Friday, April 24, 2009

Derby Trial S. (G3)

Churchill Downs
Derby Trial S. (G3)
7-1/2 Three-Year-Olds $100,000

The story of the Derby Trial S. (G3) is speed, speed and more speed. Usually such a race sets up perfectly for a late closer. In this race only Rendezvous fits that description. However, there are two considerations that need be addressed before handing him the race. First, even if the race is wickedly fast is he actually good enough to win against this very talented field of sprinters? Second, a race with so much speed rarely goes as fast as it appears it will. Will that be the case here? And if so who does that benefit?

I don’t like Rendezvous to win here. It’s been 70 days since he raced. His last cycle consisted of two races at a mile before attempting the 1- 1/8 El Camino real Derby (G3) on 2/14. He finished 3rd by five lengths to stable mate Chocolate Candy, in a mediocre race. A son of Victory Gallop it appears that Hollendorfer had him figured for a route horse and had him training appropriately. Generally speaking I don’t like horses going from a route to sprint first time back. Although 7 -1/2 isn’t your average sprint I think it’s really hard to train that kind of fitness into a horse, especially when facing the quality of sprinters he will be facing in this race. He does show a very nice work on 4/21 but, I don’t think his progression of works point to him being able to put forth the type of effort he would need to win. I can see him getting a small piece but that’s about all.

I don’t expect the race to go in suicidal fractions. Often a race that boasts a lot of speed horses is run in reasonable fractions, especially the first quarter; fast but not blazing. At 7 -1/2 no one wants to encourage an outright speed duel that would undoubtedly invite disaster. To my thinking that makes the second quarter the most important of this race. For that reason I like Santana Six. He is lightly raced and in his last two races, both at a mile, his second fraction was run faster than his first yet he still managed to finish professionally. In this race I think you want to be in front, but not too soon. He has the ability to take the heart away from other horses at just the right spot in a race. It’s been 28 days since his last race so he’s had plenty of time for recovery but not so much that he’s lost his edge. He had a nice tightener on 4/16 over the track at Churchill and Johnny V. stays on, forsaking the Pletcher entry of Checklist .

The horse I was leaning toward for 2nd was Silver City. He has run some really nice races. He has tactical speed and the rail. But I think his races are catching up with him. For that reason I also would have liked to see fewer works for him leading up to this race. Perhaps, then I may have stayed with him. Also, as much as I am a fan of Julien Leparoux’s talents I don’t think he fits this horse well. So I’m passing on him.

Hull, at 3-1 on the ML - second choice- was a surprise to me. Yes, he’s unbeaten but I’m not sure he’s really beaten anybody yet and this is a tough crew. I would have had him at about 5-1. He’s going to have to beat me. I don’t have the faith in him that other’s seem to.

The horse I ended up on is the Mott trained Tintim Por Tintim. His first race wasn’t great but it was a key race. And he was one of the reasons it became a key race. He returned to win next time out going a mile at Gulfstream in 1:36.66. In that race he also ran his second quarter faster than his first and finished well. This is only his 3rd race so he’s fresh and improving. He shows a nice line of works in preparation and Allan Garcia has taken the mount. Also Bill Mott places them where they fit. Perhaps this is a hunch more than a decision based on hard statistics, but those are always the best bets. I can see him and Santana Six keeping each other company two lengths off the pace until exiting the turn. But at the wire I think the added experience of Santana Six will win the day.

The Picks:
Win:------Santana Six. Not what Zito would have liked to win this meet but…
Place:----Tintim Por Tintim Not poor anymore.
Show:-----Rendezvous Still fits the race and he is trained by Hollendorfer.

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