Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Final Round of Derby Preps
We interrupt our scintillating fantasy baseball coverage to bring you, as expected, coverage and thoughts of this week's round of Derby Preps. Last week brought us the Florida Derby, where Scat Daddy replicated his Fountain of Youth win, and will now try to emulate the late Barbaro by winning the Derby off a 5-week layoff. Following him home was Notional, who ran a solid if unspectacular 2nd, and Chelokee, trained by Mike Matz (of Barbaro fame), who may not get into the Derby, as only the 20 horses with the most graded earnings make the cut, and he's only got $100k. Too bad, because some thought he was the best in the FD. Then again, some of us said the same thing about Sunday Break after the 2002 Wood, and he ran like dogshit in the Belmont that year. Anyway, enough about that, let's get to the three major Derby preps this weekend.
Wood Memorial: The best prep of the weekend, pairing Barclay Tagg (of Funny Cide fame) against the Todd Pletcher Juggernaut. Pletcher's loaded enough that he's sending Circular Quay into the Derby off a 8-week hiatus (dumb idea) and instead subbing in Any Given Saturday in this race. Good idea, because while Tagg's Nobiz Like Shobiz is the threat a lot of people think he might be, he's still behind Street Sense, and AGS needs the graded earnings as well. Other horses running range from the intriguing (Summer Doldrums) to the trifecta fodder (Sightseeing) to the hopeless (Flashstorm). As someone who thinks Any Given Saturday is going to get Pletcher off the Triple Crown schneid, I'll go with him in a close victory over NBB.
Illinois Derby: This was never on the "A" list of Derby preps, partially because it used to be held later in the year, and kinda still isn't, but War Emblem's 2002 Illinois-Kentucky Derby Double has made this into something of a real prep. Sweetnorthernsaint emerged from this race last year to be a surprising Derby favorite. Barring another performance like that, we're not gonna see anyone here that you'll be salivating about come May 5th.
Santa Anita Derby: Naysayers can claim Giacomo Forever all they want, but the California horses simply suck this year, especially once Ravel got hurt. So what have we got this year? One would normally look for a Jeff Mullins horse, as he's won this race repeatedly with bombs like Castledale and Buzzard's Bay, but he's sitting it out this year to work on his juice. Well, there's Tiago, who's a half to Giacomo, who's only the worst Derby winner of my lifetime. Sam P. and King of the Roxy both have the Pletcher factor going for them, but the former is unimpressive and the latter is bred to win sprints, so I'll have to pass. hasn't proven himself worthy of competing against the best. Liquidity isn't a Grade I horse. Neither are Level Red and Black Seventeen. I'll take a stab with Bwana Bull, who reminds me fleetingly of Event of the Year, as a NoCal stud who's been beating lesser.