The Rebel is the only Kentucky Derby prep of the weekend but it's a full field which results in a good betting opportunity, and it has maybe the most intriguing Derby contender out there: The Factor.
If The Factor can't carry his electrifying speed around two turns Bob Baffert will drop him back to sprinting. But if he is successful, he will move onto the Arkansas Derby, and potentially the Kentucky Derby. If that latter happens, it could change the whole complexion of the race on May 7.
The Factor is a runaway train, Baffert admitted so himself. There is no rating this colt, so they will send him and see what happens. As fast as he is and off of what we saw in the San Vicente, I have to believe that he will have some say in the outcome of this race. Even if he doesn't win, I think he will place somewhere in the money. There is not much true speed in here and if he gets away with an easy lead it could be see-you-later-time.
As it is, I'm going with J P's Gusto for the win. I firmly believe that J P's Gusto will be in over his head the longer he goes, but 1 1/16 miles should be right up his alley. It can be argued that J P's Gusto was the best horse in the Feb. 21 Southwest. He was full of run heading into the stretch but was caught in back of a wall of horses and wasn't able to get out until Archarcharch had already gotten the jump on him. He still closed well to be beaten only a length.
Since that race the Successful Appeal colt has had two sharp works. He gets Dominguez back and should sit a nice stalking trip behind The Factor. J P's Gusto is a tactical horse with enough speed to put himself in position for his stretch run. Some of the others in here without as much speed may be at the mercy of their trip in a large field. J P's Gusto was a three-time graded stakes winner as a juvenile and ran a good second to Jaycito in the grade I Norfolk in his only try around two turns. He has a lot of class to fall back on. And unlike the Southwest when he was 6-5, he should be a nice square price in a large field that will see The Factor favored.
I also like Alternation to run well from off the pace and will use him to fill out my exotics. Donnie Von Hemel is an excellent local trainer and did a good job of decision making with this colt. He could have thrown him into the Southwest but opted for a two-turn allowance race on Feb. 21, a race that Alternation won by 3 1/4 lengths. He's had two strong works since then and if he gets a good trip and a fast pace could be flying at the end.
Sway Away, a strong closing second to The Factor in the San Vicente intrigues me, as does Elite Alex, who had every chance to win his last two starts but seemed to hang in both. I will take a wait-and-see approach with both colts.
Archarcharch may be better than people give him credit for. We all seemed to want to make excuses for many other horses in the Southwest, but Archarcharch was very impressive in his own right. With his tactical speed, there is no reason to think he shouldn't be right in the thick of things and if he is disrespected at the windows again, I will certainly use him in trifectas.
Glint would be the most logical of the big longshots to hit the board. He might show more speed in his second start back, as he did when breaking his maiden last year at Hoosier Park.
Good luck this weekend. Let me know who you like.