Verrazano likely fave, one to beat at Kentucky Derby

Apr 23, 2013 3:01 AM

The Kentucky Derby prep races have all been run with the exception of the Derby Trial, which is Saturday at Churchill Downs with the winner getting 20 points.

For the most part, it would be very doubtful the Derby Trial winner, even if he did have enough points to get in, would run in Louisville the first Saturday in May. So basically, the stage is just about set with the top 20 as we wait for a defection or two.

The jockeys have made their choices (or their agents did). Either way we are just about set for the little bettors’ to make a big score.

Three time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel got on the Todd Pletcher trained Revolutionary for the first time last week. Pletcher deemed it a good work with jockey and horse a good fit.

Pletcher also worked the undefeated, and most likely Kentucky Derby favorite, Verrazano out for the first time and loved the way this one went over the Churchill strip. It was a real nice 5 furlong breeze in company and he loved the easy gallop out in 1:13.1.

This past week in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland another Pletcher colt, Winning Cause, won. If this colt runs, Todd Pletcher could have 6 of the 20 runners in the race along with Verrazano, Revolutionary, Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Charming Kitten.

The Chad Brown trained Normandy Invasion, who finished a fast closing second to Verrazano in the Wood, also worked out at Churchill last week. Brown liked the way he went. Remember that jockey J. Castellano opted to ride this colt and could be the wise guy bet on Derby day. With the right post position this one should hit the board.

Vyjack who had a little lung infection has arrived at Churchill and is going great per trainer Rudy Rodriquez. We will see how this one works out this week. He will be ridden by Garrett Gomez.

Mike Smith looks to be a very good fit on Palace Malice and we will be waiting to see how he works this week.

Last year Rosie Napravnik was the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks when she guided long shot Believe You Can to victory paying $29.60. We believe she can do it this year in the Derby and become the first female jockey to win. She will ride Mylute who could be the price play for trainer Tom Amoss. Can lightning strike two years in a row? Believe it can.

There really isn’t a ton of early speed in this year’s race and that could give the Doug O’Neill runner Goldencents a big shot if he gets a good post, is able to clear and can relax in the early going. Post position and track condition will play a big part. That’s why we will be having our big Kentucky Derby seminar the Thursday evening before the Kentucky Oaks.

This past weekend was the 56th running of the $750k Illinois Derby with the winner getting no points. You say how is this possible? It seems no matter what, politics get involved!

Churchill Downs, which is in charge of drawing up the point system, was blinded by money. The organization runs Arlington Park and fights over racing dates with Hawthorne where they run the Illinois Derby. As “Dino,” my dog, always looks at me and says, “That is just crap!”

Hopefully with the outcry, this race will get at least 20 points. We’ll wait and see. The winner of the race, Departing, won with ease at 9/5. Although no points were recorded, owners got a cool $450k for the win, which would have, in the past, put this gelding in the Derby starting gate.

Speaking of “crappy decisions,” the Santa Anita stewards made a horrible call when playing politics in taking down Viva Carina in the Santa Barbara Handicap this past Saturday when going wire to wire beating the odds on 30-cents-on-the-dollar Lady of Shamrock by 1 1/2 lengths. Very sad.

It is almost here – our big, huge Kentucky Derby Seminar Thursday, May 2 in the Palace Station race book. The first annual Vic Vivio tribute is free, with free cocktail service, free food and a real good time with plenty of solid handicapping information that could help you hit the big one.

Yours truly will be there with my thoughts on how the race will run. The all-knowing, very informative Ralph Siraco from the popular Race Day Las Vegas radio show will host, with incites from Paul Truitt, who was the agent for Mark Guidry when he won the Santa Anita Derby and finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby. The Palace Station race book will be rockin’ so get there early for a good seat.

Next week: A horse by horse short capsule on how I believe they will fair, with my pre-Derby selection before the post positions are drawn.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper.  Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].

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