Our first 100 point Triple Crown prep is a 9.5F classic with 6 weeks rest until the Kentucky Derby. This Fair Grounds experiment will be tried for first time as last year's attempt was under mined by the COVID-19 delay to the Derby. It is largely a rematch of the Risen Star so expect it to be formful. Pace looks legitimate but with long run into first turn with only 8 horses, I don't think it will be too fast. Horses should be able to find the position they want easily.
1. Starrinbmydreams - This horse is early speed but not quick enough to get the lead. Was off slow in Risen Star (plus rank) and ran very poorly despite taking good money at 11-1. From the rail this horse will have to go early. Horse may improve, gets Saez & rail draw is winning 20%. Still feel horse will tire late.
2. Rightandjust - Horse had lead in Risen Star & should be right there again. But even with perfect trip and moderate pace, tired badly without LASIX. Toss.
3. Run Classic - This horse is getting some buzz and will be over bet. Has just a maiden win to his credit on same card as Risen Star but finish time was acceptable. Horse is eligible for significant improvement in 3rd lifetime start and B Hernandez chooses over the #1. Drops LASIX for first time and is toss for win. Could hit board in 3rd or 4th.
4. Proxy - Another one the wise guys like off a pair of second place efforts against similar. Gets blinkers which could improve focus in stretch run but Stidham is weak with this angle. If this horse was much higher odds than Mandaloun, I would consider but that is unlikely. Very likely to hit the board.
5. Hot Rod Charlie - The public will have to decide if this horse or Proxy goes off as second choice. Ships in from Santa Anita and is the wild card in the race. Form from last two efforts have been backed up by strong finishes by running mates next race. Dirt route form is superb and is eligible to improve in 2nd 3yo race of year. Running with Mora as trainer with O'neill suspended for drug violations shouldn't affect his performance. I have this one in KY Future Wager #4 at 58-1 and am hoping for a solid effort.
6. Mandaloun - Deserving favorite with superb connections. Gets unusually high score on our sheet with K+ grade. If this horse is better than #5, he should win and can't see this one finishing any worse than 3rd. Blinkers worked in Risen Star victory.
7. Midnight Bourbon - Got perfect trip victory in Lecomte on lead with slow pace and public rightly let him go off at only 5.6-1 in rematch. He tired late in Risen Star with no excuse. Gets similar post position draw today. Pedigree says he will run all day and is eligible to improve 3rd start of the year. With that said, have tough time seeing him improve his finish position and is eligible to finish out of the superfecta.
8. O Besos - Was well back in 4th place effort in Risen Star and figures to be beaten more solidly today. Easy toss.
Bottom Line - The winners photo comes down to Mandaloun or Hot Rod Charlie. The first two Louisiana preps have not impressed me and Hot Rod Charlie could win this easily and will be the longer price. That's my win bet however he has significantly more risk to miss the exacta. Proxy should hit the board and the final spot in the super will be a race between Midnight Bourbon, Starrinmydreams or Run Classic. The value play in vertical exotics is definitely Starrinmydreams who is eligible for significant improvement if he gets the lead with Saez up on the rail.