Submitted by John Conte on Thursday, January 31, 2019 at 6:57 PM
23 Derby Hopefuls Toss Bridles In The Ring In 3 Preps Saturday
Conte Derby Watch
There have already been a handful of what are listed as Kentucky Derby Preps, largely because these already run races have afforded Qualifying Points to the first 4 finishers of each race.
These “recognized” qualifying preps date back to the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs on September 15 of last year. While the 2-year old races and the four that have kicked off 2019 Jerome (1/1 Aqueduct), Sham (1/5 Santa Anita), Lecomte (1/19 Fair Grounds) and the Smarty Jones (1/25 Oaklawn) have begun the glimpse of potential on the Road to the Triple Crown, the attention to the contenders and pretenders has traditionally begun with the 3 QUALIFYING DERBY PREPS TO BE RUN ON SATURDAY.
Each of these 3 races offers 10-4-2-1 qualifying points respectively to the first 4 finishers.
Withers Stakes – Aqueduct – 1 1/8 Miles
Holy Bull Stakes – Gulfstream Park – 1 1/16 Miles
Robert B. Lewis Stakes – Santa Anita – 1 1/16 Miles
For me, this is the true start on the Road to the Triple Crown. Last year I began this quest along with my clients at the betting windows as the connections began their quest with their three-year olds. And I got off to a great start, which I intend to do again in 2019.
All you need do is revisit what I did last year as I opened February with the same 3 Preps (Holy Bull, Robert B. Lewis and Withers) which I SWEPT.
Withers Stakes – Only 5 Horses went to the post so I took what profit there was with a Cold 1-2-3 Exacta-Trifecta:
Avery Island – W $4.30…Firenze Fire – 2nd Exacta $11.20…Marconi – 3rd $24.00
Then things got to our liking in the Holy Bull and Robert B. Lewis.
Audible – W $8.40…Tiz Mischief – 3rd Trifecta $128.40…Pony Up – Out…Free Drop Billy – 2nd Exacta $37.80
Robert B. Lewis:
Atacara – 2nd Exacta $91.00…Peace – Out…Lombo – W $19.40…Dark Vader – 3rd Trifecta $1,066.40
This year, it will be the Robert B. Lewis that will feature the shorter field. But as you will see below, both the Withers Stakes and the Holy Bull Stakes have come up solid…with plenty of High Return On Investment Probability.
(NINE RIVALS LOOK TO END UNBEATEN STREAK OF MAXIMUS MISCHIEF IN HOLY BULL)
There is no question that based on his juvenile campaign, Maximus Mischief has earned top billing in Saturday’s Grade III Holy Bull Stakes, to be run at 1 1/16 miles over the Gulfstream Park main oval. Not only has the son of Into Mischief won all 3 career starts, at 3 different distances, including at a mile and an eighth in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on December 1, his average margin of victory is close to 6 lengths.
The Robert Reid, Jr. trainee has worked spectacularly since returning to the clocker in early January, so he is the horse to beat.
At this point you might wonder, if I write so glowingly of his credentials, why am I suggesting the Holy Bull could prove to be more than a one horse race?
For me there are a number of subtle angles which could make this by far his toughest race. Let me discuss just one of those angles and then move on to the others,
In his three career races Maximus Mischief has been able to set the pace on the lead with little contention through moderate to good fractions. Things shape up much differently on Saturday. The colt leaves from post 8 of 10. Directly to his inside is front running Come On Jerry an Elusive Quality colt who just broke his maiden over the track at the 8 ½ furlong distance. Directly to his outside is Gladiator King, whose 8 race 3 win career indicates he is likely the fastest half mile runner in the race, and will prevent Maximus Mischief from having the lead at first call for the first time in his career.
Add in a pair of solid colts, Mihos, a winner of 2 of 3 lifetime, including the one mile Mucho Macho Man Stakes here four Saturday’s ago and the undefeated Federal Case, a winner of a mile allowance race here at the end of December, each of whom has shown a strong pressing style in their racing career and you have the makings of as honest and contentious a pace as you would want.
As I put together the prospects for how this race unfolds I believe this projected pace battle will go a long way towards creating some genuine surprises, on the track and on the tote board.
In addition to the aforementioned three-year olds, the Holy Bull will introduce a number of longshots looking to move up in the rankings.
Garter And Tie finished a rallying third in the Mucho Macho man Stakes despite hitting the gate at the start. Epic Dreamer is an interesting Orb longshot who started his career with two solid races at Belmont and then was 4 wide and bumped badly when beaten as the 6-5 favorite in the Springboard Mile Stakes at Remington Park.
Last out maiden winner Harvey Wallbanger has improved with racing while the remaining two runners, Everfast and Going For Gold are the ones that need to show much more than they have to date.
(WITHERS STAKES AT AQUEDUCT LOOKS TO BE MOST EQUALLY MATCHED)
I’d be willing to bet that if you asked 50 horse p[layers who they favored in the mile and an eighth Grade III Withers Stakes at the “BIG A” on Saturday there would be a camp in favor of any of the seven entrants.
Five of the seven exit a last out win. Collectively the field has 11 wins and 5 seconds from 22 career starts. Three of the four that have raced over the surface have won over it. And on speed ratings, the top 5 numbers are within 2 ½ lengths of each other.
In recent years, the New York path to the Kentucky derby has not been that productive, but the Withers field this year is stocked with a number of solid, if under the radar runners, and the way I see this race there are so many potential combinations that my ticket could easily produce a double digit winner and upper three level exotics despite the moderate 5 colt, 2 gelding lineup.
I am convinced that my selections for these two races will carry myself and those who choose to join me are going to get us off to a great start in a GUARANTEED FEBRUARY 7 DERBY PREP RACE PROGRAM.
As part of the program I will release all seven February Derby Prep Races (click here to see lineup and offer) and you will show a Guaranteed Profit OR my 10 Prep races in March are Free.
GUNMETAL GRAY AND MUCHO GUSTO FIGURE PROMINANTLY IN WHAT FIGURES AS OFF-TRACK ROBERT LEWIS STAKES.
The biggest factor concerning this year’s running of the Lewis figures to be the off-track. It is projected that there will be that the rain which began Thursday will continue through Saturday. While neither Jerry Hollendorfer, the trainer of recent Sham Stakes winner Gunmetal Gray, or Bob Baffert, conditioner of Mucho Gusto, who will be making his 2019 debit, seem overly concerned with the projected off going.
For me, it is a matter of maximizing the returns from a race which will only send 6 three-year olds postward in the mile and a sixteenth test.
Each colt figures to battle for favoritism and each, as their ML suggests, will go off at less than 2-1. More to the point, however, is running style and pace.
In the Sham, Gunmetal Gray came from well off the pace over a fast track at 1 mile. For his part, Mucho Gusto was last seen battling early and finishing second in late December in the Grade I Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity to Improbable, who along with BC Juvenile Champ, Game Winner, is currently one of the Top 1-3 on everyone’s Derby prospect list.
Baffert is unconcerned with the wet surface for Mucho Gusto because when he worked on a sloppy track during the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic 2-year-olds in Training Sale, current owner Petersen had no trouble writing a check for $625,000 for the colt shortly after. Hollendorfer simply said, Gunmetal Gray is "bred for it."
My main concern with this race will be figuring how to include the remaining four contenders into the Exotics with the two favorites as each, Kid Cantina, Magnificent McCool, Easy Shot, and Nolo Contesto exit Maiden Wins in their last and are definitely in prove it mode.
In conclusion, these three races will produce generous profit for my followers. I GUARANTEE IT!
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