I’m going to my make picks blog very simple this year:
Kentucky Oaks: Summer Applause
Kentucky Derby: Union Rags
I have a strong feeling on Summer Applause. Of course, I was
alive in the late pick 4 going into the final leg last year singed to Joyful
Victory and was counting my money before they got in the gate. We all know how
that turned out.
Anyway, Summer Applause has impressed me all year. And when
I went back and watched her Fair Grounds Oaks a couple times I was sold. She
was about five lengths back of Believe You Can (who she beat in her previous
start) and closed a ton of ground in deep stretch to lose by a neck. That track
was very speed-favoring and the extra distance will only help her here. I think
she will get a very favorable pace set up too, as On Fire Baby, Broadway’s
Alibi, Eden’s Moon, and Believe You Can will all be gunning it pretty good.
Garrett should save ground the whole way and make his late charge.
Summer Applause is 15-1 on the morning-line but I expect her to be more like 7-1 by post time. I
spent time with her and the assistant trainer earlier in the week. She looks
great and she is getting over the Churchill track even better than Fair
Grounds. He work on April 20 was so strong they decided she didn’t even need a
final work, so they just galloped her up to the race. I’m all in on Summer
Grace Hall will be on all my exotic tickets. She is
definitely the one to beat. You can’t argue with anything she’s done and should
be right in the mix. Ramon will give her a good stalking trip.
And Why Not, Broadway’s Alibi, and Eden’s Moon will fill out
For the record, I’m playing a late pick 4 that will look
like this: All/2 (Successful Dan)/All/3 (Summer Applause).
Union Rags will win the Kentucky Derby. I gave my reasoning
in previous blogs and on That Handicapping Show, but here is a quick recap.
Union Rags obviously did not get an ideal trip in the Florida
Derby; we all saw that. But beyond his trip, he wasn’t cranked for the race.
Look at his two works leading up to it: He went five furlongs in 1:04 on March
17—the slowest of 22 that day—and four furlongs in :49 the week prior to the race.
Do you think Matz had him primed for the Florida Derby? No way. The horse is
dead fit and has been since last year. His two works leading up to the Derby
have been sensational, and he looks like a million bucks at Churchill this
I keep hearing people questioning Leparoux’s ability to win
a big race and I’m dumbfounded by it. He’s won plenty of big races in his
career and he knows Churchill better than anyone, save Calvin Borel. If Union
Rags doesn’t win it won’t because of the trip—it will because he isn’t good
enough. But he will be.
If I told you that you were going to get 9-2 or 4-1 on Union
Rags after the Fountain of Youth you would have jumped on it. That’s what you’re
going to get on Saturday, so take advantage of the generous odds. He’s going to
run a big race. He’s the most physically impressive horse in the race, he’s as
classy as anyone, he’s ready for a peak performance, and he should sit a good
trip—somewhere mid-pack with a lot of speed in front of him.
Underneath Union Rags is where things get complicated. I’m
going to use Daddy Nose Best and Hansen for sure, and probably Alpha,
Gemologist, Dullahan, and Sabercat. I’ll Have Another and Take Charge Indy will
be the horses I’ll be most worried about leaving off. I give both of them
decent chances to hit the board.
If Union Rags doesn’t win, my backup selection is Daddy Nose
Best. I’ve explained my reasons for liking this colt several times—lots of
bottom, two straight wins at nine furlongs, Asmussen has been very confident
this week, he has worked at Churchill all month and has looked great, he drew well
and should sit a stalking trip, he is battled tested and game, and I like the switch
to Garrett. Is he fast enough? I don’t know. But he is peaking and coming into
the race as well as anyone. I’ll take 15-1 or 20-1 on a horse like that.
The horse that worries me the most? Dullahan. I’ve gone back
and forth on him over the last two weeks. I loved his run in the Blue Grass and
the quick expected pace should suit him very well. Romans said he’s is dead fit
and ready for this race. The backstretch buzz earlier in the week was that he’s
wasn’t getting over the track all that well, but I think that might be off the
mark. When I saw him he looked good. The connections are very confident. If
someone is flying from off the pace, it will be Dullahan, or Sabercat.
Good luck everyone. Let us know your picks and, as always, I
will look forward to the post race analysis on Sunday or Monday.