The D. Wayne Lukas trained Sporting Chance gets one more shot to make his way into the Run for the Roses when he takes on a full field in the $1 million Toyota Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland on Saturday.
The race is one of three key Road to the Kentucky Derby point races to be decided on Saturday, with 100-40-20-10 points up for grabs toward entry into the Kentucky Derby.
Sporting Chance won the Hopeful (G1) last September at Saratoga but has come up short in two tries this year. He was third in the Southwest (G3) and fifth in the Rebel (G2), leaving him with just two Derby points, currently good for 45th place in the Road to the Kentucky Derby point standings.
With Gronkowski coming over as the winner of the European Road to the Derby, that leaves 19 spots open. Currently in 19th is Firenze Fire with 29 points, but it will probably take at least 40 points to get in this year.
After this Saturday’s action, there still is the Arkansas Derby (G1) next Saturday worth 100-40-20-10 and the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland which is worth 20-8-4-2 points.
The other Derby point races today are the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct and the $1 million Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita.
The morning line favorite for the Blue Grass is Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champ Good Magic, who is looking to move forward off his disappointing third in the Fountain of Youth (G2) in his three-year-old debut. The Chad Brown trainee is sitting in 15th place in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points race with 34 and needs points to assure making it to Louisville.
The Wood drew a weak field of nine with Gotham (G3) winner Enticed the 6-5 morning line favorite.
The most anticipated prep is the Santa Anita Derby where Bolt d’Oro will square off with Justify. Bolt d’Oro was beaten a head by McKinzie in the San Felipe (G2) in his last start but was placed first thanks to a controversial disqualification. The Mick Ruis trainee is safely in the big dance with 64 points and is the early betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby at USRacing at 3-1.
Justify is the 4-5 morning line favorite for the Santa Anita Derby which will be his stakes debut. He needs a top two finish to move on to Louisville where he is the co-third choice at 8-1 in early Kentucky Derby betting at USRacing.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will have all of the major stakes action from around the U.S.
Let’s head out to Keeneland for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Keeneland Race 10 The Toyota Blue Grass G1 (Post time 6:23 ET)
#2 Sporting Chance 10-1
#11 Good Magic 2-1
#6 Marconi 15-1
#12 Flameaway 6-1
Analysis: Sporting Chance was my top pick in the Southwest (G3) where he ran third and my second choice in the Rebel (G2) last out where he checked in fifth, but we will give him one more shot today. He had some trouble in the stretch in the muddy Rebel where he got bumped around and lost his momentum and last out he raced a bit wide and had no punch left in the stretch.
With the break from the two post he figures to be sent early for a good spot and there is not a ton of speed in here. A wet track would be a plus as he is bred for it and won the Hopeful (G1) last year over a wet track. After going off at 9-2 in his last two starts it looks as if he is going to offer more value in this spot. The $575,000 purchase is by Tiznow out of the stakes winner Wynning Ride ($345,108).
Good Magic was a disappointing third in his comeback race in the Holy Bull (G2) as the beaten chalk and I could not find a real excuse except maybe he just was not tight enough coming back off a four-month layoff. He ran big winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last fall earning a 100 Beyer which was his maiden breaker.
The $1 million Keeneland purchase has worked sharply at Palm Meadows since his last outing and figures to move forward. He is bred to like a wet track, by Curlin out of the stakes winner Glinda the Good ($226,758). The colt does not need to win to move on to Louisville but with 34 points he needs to pick a few more up here to assure a starting spot.
Marconi ran pretty well in a third-place finish in the Withers (G3) in his stakes debut for Pletcher but did not move forward in the Fountain of Youth (G2) where he checked in fifth. This is just his fifth career start and this guy is bred to be a good one. He was a $2 million Keeneland purchase by Tapit out of the stakes winner Ponche de Leona ($260,870) who has dropped four other winners including a pair of stakes winners, top earner Mucho Macho Man ($5.6 million).
Pletcher has won this race twice in the last 10 years, most recently with Carpe Diem in 2015. The trainer already has three in the top eight in the Road to the Kentucky Derby point standings and this guy needs a big effort to join his stablemates. Does not hurt to have Ryan Moore in the irons.
WIN: #2 to win at 10-1 or better.
EX: 2,11 / 2,6,11,12
TRI: 2,11 / 2,6,11,12 / 2,6,10,11,12
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