Derby winner could emerge at Wood, Blue Grass

Apr 9, 2002 10:31 AM

Saturday kicks off the big Pick 3 (Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes, Arkansas Derby). A $1 wager can bring home a bundle, if you can get lucky.

You will probably see the future Kentucky Derby winner emerge from one of the first two events. The Blue Grass, in particular, has produced 22 winners that went on to become Derby champions. So, watch this race carefully.

The Wood will kickoff the wager, so let’s take a quick glance. Saarland,  Medaglia D’Oro, Sunday Break, Blue Burner, Buddha. It looks to me like a whole lot of ifs here, but I see it like this:

If Oro can be any kind of ­­animal, he is the horse to beat.

If speed is not holding, Saarland will come and pick up the pieces with Blue Burner getting a piece of the tri.

If speed is holding, you could see Oro, Sunday Break and Buddha all there at the end with Oro getting the gold. Watch the early races before getting involved.

The Blue Grass at Keeneland will be one of the most competitive races in years, with the probable Derby winner exiting. Here you will have a rematch between Booklet and Harlan’s Holiday.

So far, Booklet is one-up on HH, but that could change. Keeneland is usually a speed-favoring track. If Booklet can grab an easy lead, he will be tough to overhaul.

Harland’s Holiday looks to be first or second no matter what. You must also add Azillion to the mix as he ran bang up in last outing and gets Corey Nakatani in the irons. The big three are pretty safe here, but you could add one more to the pick.

The Arkansas Derby is my favorite. I’m going to use a single in this race. I absolutely love Mr. Mellon. This guy, trained by the ever-capable E. Walden (remember Victory Gallop and Menifee) is improving leaps and bounds.

I look for him to run the race of his life. So, if you use four horses to four horses to Mr. Mellon, a $1 pick-3 will cost only $16. That’s very well worth the chance.

Just a few notes about Keeneland. This year, they will be offering a pick-6 with only a 12 percent takeout. This the lowest takeout on this type of wager that I have ever seen. It’s definitely worth a stab.

Also, a couple of trainers to watch at Keeneland and Churchill Downs are R. Werner (especially with 2-year-olds) and C. Simon, who will be bringing in a very powerful ­­stable.

Good luck, and may you win at least half of your photos.