The Road to the Kentucky Derby makes a stop in Southern California on Saturday as a field of eight including graded stakes winners Goldencents and Flashback will square off in the Grade 2 $300,000 San Felipe.
In addition, a field of nine will head to the gate in the Grade 2 $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, each of the Derby preps offering 85 points up for grabs, 50 to the winner. The Road to the Kentucky Derby series of races designed was by Churchill Downs to determine which 20 make it to the starting gate for the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday of May.
Hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert has won the San Felipe four times and will saddle the 8-5 morning line favorite Flashback, who is coming off a victory in the Grade 2 Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 2.
His main foe figures to be the Doug O’Neill trained Goldencents (2-1), who comes into the race off back-to-back wins in the Grade 3 Delta Jackpot and the Grade 3 Sham. His lone loss in four starts was a runner up finish to 2012 juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby in the Grade 1 Champagne last October at Belmont Park.
At Tampa all eyes will be on the Todd Pletcher trained Verrazano, who is the early betting favorite in future Kentucky Derby wagering despite the fact the colt has not yet made his stakes debut.
The colt broke his maiden on Jan.1 and came back to trounce first level optional claimers with a 105 Beyer Speed Figure on Feb. 2. The highest figure earned in any of the Derby preps to date was the 104 earned by Itsmyluckyday in his victory in the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 26.
The Pletcher trainee is the 4-5 morning line favorite, and a victory would earn the promising colt 50 points which is estimated to be enough to get into the starting gate in Louisville. A loss and Pletcher likely would have to bring him back in one of the later Derby preps to earn enough points to qualify for the Derby.
His main foes on Saturday figure to be the top two finishers of the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis, Falling Sky (10-1) and Dynamic Sky (4-1).
Honorable Dillon (6-1) is coming off a victory in the seven furlong Hutcheson (G2) and Java’s War (12-1), who was third in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) last fall at Keeneland will be making his three-year-old debut.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday includes 13 races from Aqueduct, Santa Anita Park, and Tampa Bay Downs.
Let’s head out to Santa Anita Park fort Saturday’s featured race of the day:
@turfnsport I like the analysis if I say so myself
— TheGoldencents (@TheGoldencents) March 8, 2013
Santa Anita Park Race 7 The San Felipe G2 (Post time 3:35 PT)
3 Goldencents 2-1
5 Hear the Ghost 6-1
2 Flashback 8-5
8 Omega Star 6-1
Analysis: Goldencents has won three of his four career starts with the lone loss a runner up finish to juvenile champion Shanghai Bobby in the Champagne (G1) last October. The colt took the field gate to wire to win the Delta Jackpot (G3) and last out won the Sham (G3) as the heavy favorite. He beat Den’s Legacy by 1 1/2 lengths, with that runner coming back to run second in the Robert B. Lewis (G2) behind Flashback on Feb. 2, beaten 6 1/4 lengths. The colt has come back with four bullet drills and should get a good tracking trip sitting just off the pace. It looks as if this guy is going to end up offering a bit more value for the top spot than Flashback.
Hear the Ghost stretches out to two turns for the first time here in his third career start and appears to have the best shot of breaking up a chalky exacta. The gelding broke his maiden in his debut and then last out in the San Pedro going six furlongs he rallied to finish in the runner up spot. The Jerry Hollendorfer barn is 22% winners moving runners form sprint to route and this guy certainly has enough pedigree to handle two turns. He is by Ghostzapper out of a Coronado’s Quest mare that has dropped four other winners led by Grade 1 winner Mani Bhavan ($267,000).
Flashback has not really been tested in his two starts, a good looking maiden win on Dec. 8 over the fake stuff at Hollywood Park and then a gate to wire score in the Robert B. Lewis (G2) last out in his first go around two turns. He only had to beat three foes that day with the third place finisher He’s had Enough coming back to finish fifth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) in his next start. The colt has worked quickly in the mornings for the Bob Baffert barn that has won this race four times, the last time with Pioneerof the Nile in 2009. The $250,000 purchase is a son of Tapit out of a Mr. Greeley mare that has dropped three other winners including stakes winner Zazu ($691,185), a full sister who won a couple of Grade 1 races over the surface here, the 2011 Las Virgenes Stakes and Lady’s Secret. He is not quick enough to wire this group as there are a couple of speedy runners in here including Salutos Amigos who is stretching out from a sprint, but he did show in his debut that he does not need the lead. With Baffert calling the shots he figures to get bet down from his 8-5 morning line.
WIN: #3 to win at 9-5 or better.
EX: 3,5 / 2,3,5,8
TRI: 3,5 / 2,3,5,8 / 2,3,5,6,8
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