RTSS False-Favorite Report, Saturday, April 6, 2024

Friday’s Racetrack Super Scout report was short and sweet. Just two races covered.

In Gulfstream’s third race we correctly identified the even-money favorite Tour the City as false. Tour the City finished fourth. Our best shot against him was third-place runner Annointed.

In the featured Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, we warned that morning-line favorite Impel (off at 2-1) was taking too large a step up in class. She validated our opinion by finishing a non-threatening third, just behind our best shot, Just F Y I, in second.

We didn’t find the winner in either event, but we expect to remedy that shortcoming in Saturday’s big races. Last week we identified the winners in both Kentucky Derby prep races. This week we have three such events to savor.

Today we cover the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby.

AQUEDUCT

RACE 10. Grade 2 Wood Memorial Stakes. 1 Mile and 1/8th. Dirt.

False Favorite: #4 Deterministic (7-5)

Reason: This $625,000 son of Liam’s Map hasn’t disappointed his owners, scoring two wins in two races. He stepped right out of a debut MSW win into the winner’s circle of the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. But Deterministic’s pedigree leans toward sprints, and both of his wins were in 1-turn events.

Deterministic owns a powerful closing kick, but sprinters with that running style often lose that late lick when asked to travel two turns. Given his pedigree and the jump in class, he seems likely to fall into that category of disappointing runners.

BETS

#9 Tuscan Sky (4-1). Our top choice holds two wins in two starts. After winning his debut at 6 furlongs, this Todd Pletcher trainee won a two-turn allowance event that became a match race when all but three horses scratched.

In that race he gave Nash, a graded-stakes-placed star, a nearly 3-length lead. He then ran two sub 24-second quarter miles, one to catch up and one to duel Nash for the lead. He essentially ran his more experienced and more accomplished rival into the ground and then drew away late. It was quite an impressive effort, especially for a horse trying two turns for the first time.

#13 Uncle Heavy (8-1). Tuscan Sky would be our solo bet if not for the generous odds likely on offer for this overachiever. He’s a modestly bred Pennsylvanian with 3 wins in 4 starts, including back-to-back stakes wins around two turns. His most recent win was the 9-furlong Withers Stakes. He has improved with every start and seems determined to run down every rival in front of him.

His post position and B-track connections are factors likely to lead bettors into ignoring him. He won the Withers at 9-1 and has a puncher’s chance to capture this event at similar odds.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #9 Tuscan Sky (4-1), 97
  • #2 El Grande O (8-1), 96
  • #13 Uncle Heavy (8-1), 94

KEENELAND

RACE 10. Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes. 1 Mile and 1/8th. Dirt.

False Favorite: #10 Sierra Leone (2-1).

Reason: These stone-cold closers usually hit their ceiling in graded stakes races, where it becomes too difficult to chase down well-bred and highly accomplished rivals. Indeed, he was unable to put away a fiesty Dornoch in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes last year and enters this contest off of a victory in the slowly run Risen Star Stakes.

Although this $2.3-million Gun Runner colt is just a nose short of a perfect career, he doesn’t own a performance that demonstrates superiority over his top rivals here. He would need to improve significantly to run past them late, and that’s not a possibility you should accept short odds on.

BETS

#4 Dornoch (3-1). The son of Good Magic has run off three consecutive two-turn wins, including two in graded stakes races. One of those wins was a game victory over morning-line favorite Sierra Leone. He’s capable of setting, stalking or dueling through a fast pace and still persevering late.

Dornoch followed his easy Fountain of Youth win off of a layoff with a bullet 4-furlong work. He’s the most accomplished runner in the field, and he seems to be in top form. Pacewise, he’s unlikely to be challenged early in a way that’ll significantly weaken him late. He stands as a solo wager for us.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #4 Dornoch (3-1), 98
  • #6 Just a Touch (7-2), 97
  • #2 Be You (8-1), 94

SANTA ANITA

RACE 10. Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. 1 Mile and 1/8th. Dirt.

False Favorite: #4 Imagination (8-5).

Reason: In 3 of 5 career starts this Baffert trainee finished second. He owns only average early speed for this level and a weak closing kick.

BETS

#3 Stronghold (5-2). Phil D’Amato’s rising star captured the Grade 3 Sunland Derby with ease last time out. Prior to that he just missed defeating Wynstock after that rival led through nontaxing early fractions. The son of Ghostzapper seems to be improving and might now be better than Wynstock, who might encounter more early pressure here. Stronghold’s works since the Sunland Derby have been steady and strong.

#5 Wynstock (8-1). The other entrant from the Bob Baffert barn looks like he’ll be asked to set or contest the early tempo. He threw in the towel early in the muddy Southwest Stakes, but he returns here with Baffert’s top rider aboard and a crazy-fast 4-furlong work in :46 flat. His victory in the Los Al Futurity over Stronghold shows he can survive a late-race challenge from a real stakes horse.

Top Relevant BRIS Speed Figs

  • #3 Stronghold (5-2), 99
  • #5 Wynstock (8-1), 99