Friday was a fun day! We nailed 3 winners in the 4 races covered, with all 4 false favorites losing. In the only race where the winner escaped us, the trifecta was filled by the three horses on our “Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs” list.
We’ll try to keep that batting average high on Saturday.
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RACE 3. Cutler Bay Stakes. 7.5 furlongs. Turf (Analysis for turf only).
False Favorite: #3 Harry Time (3-1).
Reason: Harry hasn’t hit the board since he broke his maiden in Ireland while running for the winner’s share of a $15,000 purse. After 3 failures in stakes races and one in a $36,000 handicap event, he was shipped to the US, where he has melted down in late stretch in both tries against allowance horses.
#6 Dunedin (5-1). In his short career he’s managed to deliver a few shockingly good performances. As a maiden he won a $250,000 allowance race on the turf at Kentucky Downs at 22 to 1. He then closed rapidly in a Grade 3 stakes at Aqueduct to just miss winning at 10-1. With long odds again, Luis Saez in the saddle and sharp workouts, he’s worth at least a small wager.
#8 King’s Fortune (4-1). His debut race features a BRIS speed figure that nearly tops this field. Irad Ortiz returns to ride this Todd Pletcher trainee. With six well-spaced works since that win, there’s no reason to think he won’t improve in his second lifetime start.
Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs
- #5 Spy Novel (4-1), 86
- #8 King’s Fortune (4-1), 84
- #6 Dunedin (5-1), 82
RACE 14. GRADE 1 FLORIDA DERBY. 1 Mile and 1/8th. Dirt
Legit Favorite: #11 Forte (4-5).
Reason: As much as we dislike his running style, we must admit (begrudgingly) that Forte stands out as the horse to beat. Not only does he face a field full of underachievers, he has earned favoritism with two laughingly easy graded stakes wins in his past two starts. His final times and speed figures in those wins are just slightly above average, but they would’ve risen to “superb” if he had been asked to go all out.
Most entrants that Forte faces here look like they were entered in the hopes they could grab fourth or fifth money in this million-dollar event if Forte scared away his top rivals. The speedsters have shown little stamina against lesser competition. The closers have struggled to pass non-stakes-winners.
Unless the lightly raced Mage (10-1) emerges as a true star or Cyclone Mischief (8-1) returns to the level of his Lasix-aided win, Forte seems to have little to worry about.
A couple of jockey notes regarding the two possible upsetters:
- Luis Saez rides Mage, passing up a return appearance on Risen Star winner Angel of Empire who will run in the Arkansas Derby.
- Cyclone Mischief loses regular rider Tyler Gaffalione, who heads to Arkansas to ride Rebel Stakes runnerup Red Route One.
RACE 2. State-Bred Optional Claimer $25,000 N1x. 6 furlongs. Dirt.
False Favorite: #5 One Way or Another (2-1).
Reason: Whether stalking or leading, one way or another, this filly figures out a way to lose. She has lost ground in late stretch in all 7 races since her maiden win, and most losses came at this distance.
#3 Gramercy Park (3-1). In her two sprints tries at this level, she finished second and third. With a top trainer and rider handling her, she should be able to make up the neck difference that kept her out of the winner’s circle last time.
#8 Pattern Bet (5-1). The top figure holder gets the services of the visiting Tyler Gaffalione. At 5-1 or higher she’ll get our slight backing that she regains form here.
Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs
- #7 Pattern Bet (5-1), 80
- #3 Gramercy Park (3-1), 78
RACE 12. GRADE 1 ARKANSAS DERBY. 1 Mile and 1/8th. Dirt.
Legit Favorite: #8 Reincarnate (5-2).
Reason: Because he seemed like the best of the Baffert brigade (with Arabian Knight AWOL) and because of his above-average early speed, he was our pick in the Rebel Stakes. After a bad step at the break in that race, his path forward was shut off. Then while rallying at the top of the stretch he got badly sandwiched. Despite the horrible trip, he rallied well for show.
That means he now has a few exceptional performances that warrant another bet on him.
As for his competition, 6 of his 10 rivals have never won beyond the maiden ranks. Two others have N1x Allowance wins as their top accomplishment. That leaves Rocket Can and Angel of Empire as the only foes with stakes wins. Neither of those rivals have enough early speed to make life difficult for Reincarnate. Angel of Empire is a late closer, and Rocket Can has never run an opening quarter mile faster than a pedestrian :24.1 seconds.
Given that any pace pressure will come from horses of limited talent, Reincarnate stands out as the controlling speed, either by taking the lead or stalking.
Rocket Can is listed as the second choice in this race. We believe he’ll get bet down to favoritism because of his game second-place finish against Forte. With 2 wins and 2 second-place finishes in 4 tries around two turns, the added distance seems to play in his favor. But for a horse that starts with slow opening quarters, he doesn’t exactly rocket through the final stages. We see him as more of a grinder. That might get the job done in this weak rendition of the Arkansas Derby, but we don’t want to wager on that sketchy prospect at low odds.