Fifty TwinSpires.com players remain alive for $1-million in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Showdown, and those who survive this weekend’s races—the Spiral Stakes on Saturday at Turfway Park and the Sunland Derby on Sunday at Sunland Park—will be closer to the $1-million prize than the start of the contest, as it would be 11 down, 9 to go following the action at Sunland.
Of course, everyone is alive for the $10,000 prize pool available to those with at least one SHOWdown share who also successfully wager $20 to show on the Kentucky Derby. I have seven such shares following the Rebel, which makes me one of 254 players tied for 250th (there are 199 players with 8 shares).
I see the Sunland Derby as the bigger hurdle this weekend for two reasons: 1) there are three logical horses, and any of Chitu, Commissioner, or Midnight Hawk could run OK and still be fourth by a head a la Conquest Titan in the Tampa Bay Derby, and 2) The race is on Sunday, which probably won’t trip anyone up who’s live for the $1-million but could hurt participation overall (so remember to play on Saturday AND Sunday!).
The Spiral’s two “big horses” (for lack of a better term) are Solitary Ranger and Tamarando, and I prefer the former in here as my SHOWdown pick, as I expect him to be a slightly longer price but get a better trip and is just as good as the latter.
In the win column, though, I’ll be taking a long look at the odds on Asserting Bear, and definitely using that one in the multis. He returns to synth and has nice breeding to go long, which some might overlook because of the obscure homebred sire.
Another price on the card I like is Zensational Bunny in the Bourbonette. I’m not thrilled with the outside post, but as speed of the speed, the 10-to-1 morning line price entices. If she clears and is left alone she could take them all the way. If she’s pressed up front, though, then Shanon Nicole and Swiss Lake Yodeler will be the ones running late, and I’ll use all three in the multis.
Back to the Sunland Derby, I have a similar view of that race in that my most likely show horse (Chitu) isn’t necessarily the horse I’m most interested in betting (Rebranded).
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert does well shipping to Sunland, and he’s poised for another big day on Sunday with the aforementioned Chitu and Midnight Hawk shipping in to face the likes of East Coast invader Commissioner from Todd Pletcher’s barn and local horse Rebranded.
Chitu already has gotten the best of Midnight Hawk, and what both horses have in common besides their trainer is they’re the only horses in the field who are consistently in the mid 90s on the Brisnet.com Speed Rating scale. I’ll take Chitu as the show pick and like the 4-to-1 odds as well.
Rebranded is a price play because he’ll get ignored with two big trainers sending in three big horses, but his runner-up finish in the local prep easily factors here. He’s an across the board play at the price.
Baffert and Pletcher also loom large in the Sunland Oaks, which kicks off the TwinSpires.com 1-million points hit-it-and-split all-stakes Pick 4, with Awesome Baby and Lucky For You, respectively.
Awesome Baby is 6-to-5 on the morning line and Lucky For You is 5-to-2, but 3-to-5 and 2-to-1, respectively, seems more likely, as there’s not a lot else in here to challenge them.
Awesome Baby is dangerous as lone speed, but there’s enough to like about Lucky For You, who finally put it together when stretching out to two turns, to take a shot at what will be at least three times the price. I’m nervous that it took the shallower waters of a mid February maiden race to get the job done after two losses as the favorite, but the price compensates at maybe a stretchout.
Good luck in whatever games you play and bets you make.
Ed DeRosa is director of marketing for Brisnet.com