With the 135th Kentucky Derby right around the corner, the 3-year-olds are starting to sort themselves out as the distances get longer.
This past week there were two big Kentucky Derby preps, the Fountain Of Youth at Gulfstream Park (a Grade 11 at a flat mile) and the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita at 1 1/8. Both winners were visually impressive posting easy wins and earning enough money to insure a spot in Louisville the first Saturday in May.
Quality Road beat a top notch field on the dirt in The Fountain Of Youth. He was jostled between rivals at the start and stalked a hot pace, then took command early in the stretch to draw away. The second place finisher Theregoesjojo actually beat Quality Road on Jan. 10 and has the look of a horse that can get that tough 1¼-mile Derby distance. Keep tabs on him as the races get longer.
In the Sham, it was all The Pamplemousse – a 3yo named for a top dining establishment in Del Mar. He just crushed this suspect field of Derby wannabees by six lengths going gate to wire. Though impressive, there are questions regarding his ability to transfer his synthetic form to dirt as well as handling pressure on the front end with lots of top class speed horses like Quality Road and Old Fashioned.
This year’s Derby is really shaping up as a very contentious race. We will continue to follow all the big races and update them.
In response to a letter from a long time reader, the Detroit Tigers are poised for this year to have a big say. Injuries, positions shifts and down production years all led to a dismal time in Motown.
This year the Tigers need recoveries from Joel Sumaya and Fernando Rodney in the bullpen. Jeremy Bonderman needs to return from his injury to lead the starting rotation plus Dontrelle Willis has to find his delivery point and mechanics.
Miguel Cabrera started slow at third base last year then switched to first and had a good second half of the season. Brandon Inge returns to third base, which is his best position. The Tigers will need Curtis Granderson, Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez to have big years.
New additions like closer Brandon Lyon and starter Edwin Jackson need to fill in. This may not be the best division in baseball, but it will be very competitive with the Indians, Royals, White Sox and Twins all looking for a championship. Any one could finish first or last in this division, but the Tigers are worth following early on.
In an exhibition baseball update for Week 1: Home teams went 19-13 in the Cactus League and 23-16 in the Grapefruit League. The best offensive team has been the Mariners scoring 44 runs in five games, while the Nationals scored a dismal 14 runs in their five.
This Saturday is the Santa Anita Handicap and Palace Station will have another big giveaway. After every race at SA, Palace will draw winners from a drum. You get a ticket for every $20 bet to win restaurant and show comps, free rooms and more surprises.
The free Saturday giveaways are great and this weekend Vic Vivio and your’s truly will be giving out our top pick in the Santa Anita Handicap. Stop by, make a few bets and say hi.
You can get my daily selections at Golden Gate and Santa Anita here on our website.