The final 9-furlong Kentucky Derby prep races wrapped up on April 8.
Lazy Bettor Guides aced the prep season once again. After selecting 8 winners in 18 stakes for 3-year-olds in the first half of 2022, we topped that stellar performance in 2023! Our 2023 Predict-o-Meter summarizes our selections (winners and losers) for each prep race. It shows 10 winners in 21 prep races this year.
We finished the Derby prep season this year with three perfect calls regarding the favorites in the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes and Santa Anita Derby. We also came up with two winners and a cold exacta. The following race previews, like most of our winning selections, appeared in the subscribers-only Racetrack Super Scout (RTSS).
DON’T MISS THE RTSS KENTUCKY DERBY PREVIEW AND OUR ANALYSIS FOR OTHER FEATURE RACES. GET A SUBSCRIPTION TODAY!
RACE 11 GRADE 2 WOOD MEMORIAL. (won by Lord Miles at 59-1; RTSS pick Dreamlike finished third)
1 Mile and 1/8th. Dirt.
False Favorite: #13 Hit Show (5-2).
Reason: Our RTSS report for the Gotham Stakes on February 11 declared any odds above even money for Hit Show were a bargain. His pedigree and performances towered over his Gotham opponents. Hit Show holds no such advantages over his rivals in the Wood.
Even though we don’t see the outside post as a hindrance for this slow-starting colt, we do question his ability to win a tough Grade 2 race. He owns wins in three different states, including a Grade 3 win at this track, but all his winning times are slow. The one time he was forced to compete in a fast race, he finished a distant fourth. It’s no surprise that the top two finishers of that allowance race went on to win graded stakes events. Equally, it’s no surprise Hit Show continues to post slow winning times!
Hit Show lands in the same bad scenario as Instant Coffee in the Louisiana Derby. He’s not fast enough to blow past top stakes horses. To win here he’ll need everyone ahead of him (most of the field) to back up badly in the stretch. We think one or two rivals will refuse to cooperate.
#1 Dreamlike (7-2). Pletcher is doing more than dreaming with this maiden runner. After flashing above-average speed in his sprint debut, Dreamlike put in a professional pressing effort when stretched to two turns. This blend of speed and stamina often signals greater accomplishments ahead. Yes, it’s a big step up in class, but he has the pedigree and performance lines to suggest he can handle it.
#10 Uncle Jake (10-1). This refugee from the Baffert barn looks to be well handled by Brittany Russell. Instead of tossing him into the deep end in graded stakes, Russell let him blow out a field of maiden horses. The bullet 5-furlong work since then, his royal lineage and the long odds add up to a sweet-looking deal.
RACE 9. GRADE 1 BLUE GRASS STAKES (won by our RTSS pick Tapit Trice)
1 Mile and 1/8th. Dirt.
LEGIT Favorite: #1 Tapit Trice (5-2).
Reason: Twice this year we declared a Kentucky Derby hopeful to be “a bargain at any odds above even money.” And both times our praise was justified. We’ll go for a three-peat here in backing Tapit Trice.
Unlike Hit Show, this late-flying colt puts up fast times, especially fast closing quarters. And unlike Hit Show in the Wood Memorial, Tapit Trice holds huge advantages over his rivals in terms of finish times and best speed figure (99). He looks to be still improving, and the added distance for this son of Tapit should help him exhibit more of his talent.
- #1 Tapit Trice at odds above even money.
RACE 6. GRADE 1 SANTA ANITA DERBY (won by RTSS pick Practical Move; RTSS single-combo $1 exacta paid $15.10; Geaux Rocket Ride scratched)
1 Mile and 1/8th. Dirt.
LEGIT Favorite: #5 Practical Move (8-5).
Reason: As we studied the past performances and race replays, we tried to conjure solid reasons to bet against him. None surfaced. With tactical speed and brilliant stretch runs in his most recent races, he looks tough to beat.
One red flag we see comes in the tendency he had to come up short in his races as a 2-year-old. But he ran against top 2-year-olds from the Baffert barn that might’ve matured a little more quickly than him. He surely looks mature now.
In the Santa Anita Derby his biggest challenges will likely come from two horses bettors don’t know a lot about:
#3 Geaux Rocket Ride (3-1) has only two lifetime starts. He followed his sprint debut win with an ultra impressive effort in a two-turn graded stakes. He also has tremendous tactical speed and lots of pedigree power. How good he is remains an open question. If he moves forward again, he could pull a mild upset.(SCRATCHED)
- #8 Mandarin Hero (8-1) ships in from Japan, where he logged 4 wins in 5 starts at top-tier tracks. Runners from Japan have pulled off a slew of upsets on the world stage in the past few years. Nobody should doubt that the quality of racing there is now world class. The odds are enticing and this son of speedster Shanghai Bobby has done nothing much wrong in his career.
Exacta Box with
#3 Geaux Rocket Ride, #5 Practical Move and #8 Mandarin Hero.
Exacta Key Box with #5 Practical Move with
#3 and #8.