Thursday, May 2, 2013

Derby Day and the Woodford Reserve

Make your Mint Julep, sit back and enjoy America’s most famous horse race this Saturday.

It’s Derby Day and while all eyes are on the feature 139th running of the Run for the Roses, horse racing aficionados and handicappers will be watching with great interest, the co-feature, the Grade 1 Woodford Reserve on the turf, at a mile and 1/8 for 3 year olds and up.

Now sponsored by the famous distillery in Versailles, Kentucky, some of us remember when it was called the Early Times.

No matter what brand of bourbon you want to call it, let’s just call this race EPIC!

Wise Dan, the 2012 Horse of the Year, and Point of Entry, winner of 4 Grade 1’s last year, will be running against each other for the first time, and may the best horse win. It is certainly, as some have called it, “The Clash of the Titans”.

Both horses are huge fan favorites and it will be hard to see one lose.

Let’s take a look at the field, from the rail out.

  1. Middie ~ A Grade 3 winner on poly, he is coming off nice prep at Keeneland. But he is 30/1 for a reason. Does have two wins on this turf course, but still can’t recommend.

  1. Slim Shadey ~ West coast shipper, and Grade 2 winner seems better, going further. Has never won at the distance, is turning back, would be a surprise.

  1. Optimizer ~ Lucas-trained, with the hot, Joel Rosario up on Grade 3 winner , don’t see it happening, but maybe jock factor can get him into the super?

  1. Silver Max ~ Nice colt who strung 6 wins together last year as a three year old, including a grade 2 on the Churchill course. Probably needed the race at Gulfstream and is coming in with a bullet. Possible that this colt has some upside as a newly turned 4 year old, but his game is speed, and doubt that top two will let him get too far out of their sight. Tough spot for him, but interesting…

  1. Swift Warrior ~ Consistent sort, who runs well off a freshening. Another Grade 3 winner who is in tough.

  1. Jeranimo ~ Another west coaster, the only other Grade 1 winner other than the top 2. Has an explosive kick, but came up empty when in with this kind.

  1. Bim Bam ~ Hasn’t won a race since who-knows-when. Over matched in here.

  1. Wise Dan ~ Reigning Horse of the Year, multiple graded wins on dirt, synthetic and grass. I think this horse can run over broken beer bottles. He is a winner of 14 races and nearly 4 million dollars. He is training like a monster, and his Keeneland win last month set him up perfect for this. Has never been this distance on turf (only on dirt and poly), but that is not a concern. Will be tough to beat.

  1. Point of Entry ~ Both he and Wise Dan are equal weights for a reason. Can’t fault him at all, and don’t think that the fact that he has never run over the course will make a difference to this colt. He always shows up and he is a tough and classy competitor.  As I am writing this, I am watching him school in the paddock (Thursday, HRTV) and he is on the muscle.  He looks ready to explode. He will need to deal with the added excitement of the “derby day “paddock.

The Woodford Reserve is a two horse race. If Louisville gets any rain, the course could be less than firm, but with that being said, I don’t think anyone in here would be at a disadvantage.

My choice for the win is Wise Dan. But it won’t be easy. Point of Entry will be coming after him and we could see a very thrilling finish to the Woodford Reserve. 

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