The holiday shopping season may be over, but for horseplayers, the quest for a Kentucky Derby horse is just starting.
With two Graded Stakes races for three-year-olds at Gulfstream Park and another at Santa Anita on Saturday, here are four interesting three-year-old prospects for those doing a little Kentucky Derby Future Book shopping.
Grade III $150,000 Swale Stakes: Designed for sophomores not quite ready to stretch out around two turns, this seven-furlong sprint looks like the perfect stepping stone for Untitled. The colt by Khozan caught the eye beating Florida-bred Maidens by 11 lengths in his Gulfstream Park debut December 14, stopping the clock in 1:10.17 and earning a lofty 98 Beyer Speed Figure.
Untitled was purchased privately after his debut will make his first start for trainer Mark Casse in the Swale. He has trained well since, and he is bred to stretch out successfully.
Grade III $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes: There are two horses to watch in the Holy Bull, a two-turn 1-1/16 miles event also at Gulfstream Park Saturday. Tiz the Law, by the red hot sire Constitution, could have been an Eclipse Award finalist for champion two-year-old with a win in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in late November. He finished a disappointing third at odds-on in his first try around two turns, however. Players will learn whether it was two turns or possibly the slop that compromised him last time. Maybe he is just not that good.
Caracaro (by Uncle Mo) stretched out to a one-turn mile in his second career start and powered home to defeat Maidens by six lengths at Gulfstream Jan 11. He earned a solid 92 Beyer Speed Figure in that win, and being out of a War Front mare should have no problem with longer distances..
Grade III $100,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes: A horse already receiving much attention is Thousand Words. The Bob Baffert trainee won the Grade II Los Alamitos Futurity in December to remain unbeaten after two lifetime starts, so he is proven around two turns and against Graded Stakes company. He is obviously no secret.
If there is no wagering value, then why watch? The Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita is just a starting point for Thousand Words, and it is doubtful he is fully cranked for his very best. He was outworked in a January 13 team drill with stablemate Paint Me Lucky (work can be seen on www.xbtv.com), and while he did prove best in subsequent team drills with stablemate Dessman on January 20 and January 27, he had to be asked to get by his workmate.
The point is simple. If Thousand Words fails to fire his best shot on Saturday and finds a way to get beat, he could go from popular to forgotten. A loss could end up providing wagering value in upcoming Derby Future Book pools, and since he has already shown the ability and hails from the Baffert stable, that would be the time to jump on board.
Pegasus handle up
Horseplayers did not let the medication-free conditions of the Pegasus World Cup Turf and the Pegasus World Cup stop them from heading to the windows.
After a rainy day saw the Pegasus Day handle drop to $37,786,967 in 2019, perfect conditions last Saturday led to a total handle increase of 10.9 percent to $41,896,435, just under the one day all-time record handle for Gulfstream Park of $41,983,882 set in 2018.
Oaklawn’s fast start
In these days when players no longer have to go to the track to make their wagers, it warms the heart to see 20,000 on track for Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort’s opening day last Friday.
On Saturday, another 30,000 showed up and took advantage full advantage of the traditional $.50 corned beef sandwich day to consume 11,000 sandwiches. It may be the best track promo we see this year.
Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Santa Anita Friday, Race 6 — Carpe Vinum (No. 2). Recent Maiden winner improved nicely in first try around two turns and appeared to have plenty left in the tank galloping out. She can win right back on the raise with hot jockey Abel Cedillo calling the shots.