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Submitted by John Piesen on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 12:00 AM

THRU THE BINOCULARS
By JOHN PIESEN

TODD IS LOADED

With the Super Bowl(oops, we mean the Big Game) history, and the writer enjoying the fruits of nailing the winner on this venue (I hope you noticed), we can turn our attention to the Kentucky Derby and specifically Todd Pletcher..

Every year it seems I write a column in this space on the same topic: despite the numbers, I’m usually right -- Todd Pletcher will not (repeat NOT) win the Kentucky Derby, and he will spend most of post-Derby making excuses.

Yes, I know that 2010 was an exception (see Super Saver), but the numbers tell us that the Toddster is 1-for-43 in America’s biggest race. Hey, no knock on Todd. Most trainers never sniff 43 Derby hopefuls in a lifetime.

If there was a national racing media at this time, we would commence getting buried in Todd Pletcher stories. Exhibit A was the Sam Davis Stakes last week at Tampa Bay when Vinceremos and Harpoon ran one-two for the Toddman.

Both are being pointed for the Derby, but there’s more. Much more. Todd nominated 42 horses (count ’em: 42) to the Triple Crown (and probably run five or six, thereby knocking a half-dozen or so more deserving souls out of the race).

But I am saying now, as I do every year at about this time, Todd Pletcher will not win the Derby.

This is a good thing to know because you can eliminate the talented likes of Commissioner, Havana, Intense Holiday, Hartford and We Miss Artie from consideration -- as well as Vince and Harpoon.

Pletcher generally needs a nudge to Go West, so, sure enough, he is sitting out Sunday’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita.

Midnight Hawk, one of Bafffert’s 18 Derby nominees. will attract most of the action on the basis of his 2-for-2 resume, but personally I like Candy Ride to upset. Did you see that middle move he made when runnerup to Shared Belief in the CashCall Futurity?

Since Shared Belief is sidelined with hoof problems, and hasn’t worked yet, the California pecking order is in disarray. Candy Ride may be the answer.

Of course, we need to wait a week and check out Kobe’s Back in the San Vincente on Feb. 15.

Kobe’s Back was my pick for the CashCall, but had a disastrous trip from his outside post, and was all though by the quarter-pole. Now, thanks to agent Ron Anderson’s hard work, Joel Rosario gets the call for the San Vincente

But as for the Lewis, Midnight Hawk will have to run a lot faster final quarter than his :26 in the Sham to beat Candy Boy.

Otherwise, let’s not forget to remember (a great Sinatra ballad; see google) the 3-year-olds from last year. Those are now 4-year-olds, and, starting this
weekend, they will produce major action.

Will Take Charge, the current leader of the pack, will make his 4-year-old debut Sunday in the Donn Handicap against a salty field that incudes Revolutionary, Romansh, River Seven and Lea.

Before you go rushing to back WTC at the windows, consider that the colt has been stabled all winter at Oaklawn Park, and missed some works due to severe weather.

Listen, we all know that WTC was my Horse of the Year pick last week, but he got buried in the voting by Wise Dan, who missed every dance.

Game On Dude, on the other hand, should breeze in his return in Saturday’s San Antonio at Santa Anita, a race he won by eight lengths last year.

Will Take Charge vs. Game On Dude in the Santa Anita Handicap in April would make an early-season highlight. And Mucho Macho Man may ship from Florida for the race.

I’m anxious to see how (if) Romansh fits in this company. He looked the goods winning the Discovery by nine lengths, and moves up the class ladder to face Will Take Charge in the Donn.

Might even use Romansh in my on-line selections and/or the John Piesen Hot Line 1-888-612-2283. My online selections warmed up for the weekend by going two-for-two Thursday at Gulfstream. Click here to get my top plays daily or sign up for my Kentucky Derby Prep program and get all the preps and the Kentucky Derby on May 3rd.

Moving on, we saw further proof last week that this column produces information. Just ask Newmann. First, owner Rick Porter was less than enthusiastic in this space about His Coup de Grace in the Holy Bull, and, sure enough, the colt backed up though the field as if in dire need of a race.

And, in the same piece, Porter hyped an Old Fashioned colt named The Trunk Monkey, who happened to be entered the same day at Fair Grounds -- and wired ’em in 1:10 1/5 with no problem.Trainer Larry Jones just loves those speed horses, and he has high hopes for this colt

Oh, yes. The Cowboy also has the two of the best handicap fillies at Fair Grounds -- Divine Beauty and Cassatt (also Porter) - and is pointing both for the Fair Grounds Oaks on March 29.

Meantime, the snow, the sleet and the ice continue to plague the racing and training in New York.

Saturday’s 100K Dearly Precious Stakes is Exhibit A. Only five fillies, three of them recent maiden-winners, were entered, prompting NYRA to run the race as the fourth.

Gracer, a multiple stakes-winner out of town, looks like a lock as a 2-5 favorite, with Bridget Maloney a clear second choice.

Thanks for tuning in. You’re welcome on the Seahawks, and see you here next week as the 3-year-old action heats up.

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