The Kentucky Derby Championship Series Begins This Weekend

I’m rarely a one-factor handicapper, but sometimes a particular factor is so glaring and the corresponding price so generous that analysis beyond that one variable just seems like platitude.

In the case of Rise Up in the Risen Star Stakes on Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course (click the stakes name for FREE Ultimate Past Performances with Comments), I could wax poetic about his superior pace ratings, best last out Speed Rating, and class edge (based on Class Ratings), but really, at the expected price (at least 5-to-2), all I need to know is that Rise Up has a 10-point Prime Power advantage on the field, and a gap of 10 or more points in dirt races wins 55% of the time!

When handicappers say “there is a lot of speed in the race” they usually mean “there are a lot of horses who like to run on or near the lead.” That’s certainly the case in the Risen Star with ten of the 14 expected starters (Bond Holder scratched and Teniente Coronel is on the also eligible list) having either an “E” or “E/P” running style, but only Rise Up has posted a triple digit E1 pace rating, and he won two of the three starts in which he did so gate-to-wire, including the Delta Jackpot Stakes in which he received a 98 Speed Rating, which easily tops this group.

I.e., if he runs 100 again, it doesn’t matter how many other horses want the lead because Rise Up will get it, and we already know he’s fast enough off that kind of pace. He is my pick for the win and the Road To the Kentucky Derby SHOWdown competition.

Speaking of that, there are 1,176 people still alive for the $1-million prize and 30 still alive in our last longest game on Twitter.

Before you can get to the Risen Star, though, you have to get past the Fountain of Youth, and I’m admittedly less confident in my pick there than in the Risen Star, but I landed on General a Rod, who appears to the choice of Javier Castellano and figures to sit a good stalking trip behind the likes of Almost Famous and Wildcat Red.

Speaking of those two, I’ve given up on the former but don’t think the latter is up against as some people think. Is he a Kentucky Derby/1 ¼-mile horse? Probably not, but can he do well in this race going 1 1/16 miles on the main track at Gulfstream from post four with a hot jock (Luis Saez) in the irons? Certainly.

Neither Commissioner nor Top Billing would surprise anyone, including me, but I think both will be too short in the betting. In the interest in seeing the most people advance in the SHOWdown competition, I’ll take a General a Rod, Top Billing, Commissioner trifecta as long as General a Rod wins, but from a wagering standpoint I certainly prefer Wildcat Red to the two favorites at the price.

As if either card needed anything extra to be alluring besides the first two 85-point races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, but huge carryovers in both the Rainbow^6 at Guflstream and the Black Gold 5 at Fair Grounds add intrigue, and is offering 1-million points for those who hit each wager.

In the Rainbow^6, Onlyforyou in the Davona Dale looks like one of the most likely winners, but Aurelia’s Belle and Penwith both intrigue and are two I wouldn’t mind having on most tickets. My top two picks in Canadian Turf Stakes are Salto and Bad Debt.

The Black Gold Five begins with four graded stakes before ending with Louisiana-bred maidens. Shannon Nicole could be a separator horse early in the Rachel Alexandra, and I’ll be using her on all tickets, as my other picks in the sequence—Daddy Nose Best in the Fair Grounds Handicap, Rise Up in the Risen Star, and Prayer For Relief in the Mineshaft Handicap—aren’t exactly reaches. An interesting horse in the nightcap at 15-to-1 is Everett’s Legacy, whose dam’s two foals to race are both winners and whose sire, Half Ours, sends out 15% debut winners. Robby Albarado aboard for a 20% trainer adds to the intrigue, though Frank Leggio is winless in his last 20 maiden special weight attempts. Still worth 15-to-1, though, and a must use on the multi tickets.

Not a part of the Rainbow^6 or any Pick 4 is the sixth race on Saturday at Gulfstream, and entry level allowance race featuring Triple Crown hopefuls such as Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 2 entries Matterhorn and Tonalist. Neither of those would surprise, though I think Constitution is the most likely winner. I’m selling Mexicoma, whose hype and outside post means a likely underlay on him.

Good luck this weekend!

Recent Posts

More Blogs