Ride On Curlin, Extrasexyhippzster the Derby Prep Tabs
Of all the horses running on Saturday in the final Kentucky Derby Championship Series races, only Tapiture (13th, 42 points) has enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands regardless of finish.
Vinceremos (18th, 20 points) and Harry’s Holiday (19th, 20 points)—both in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes—are probably safe, and Ride On Curlin (22nd, 15 points) and Strong Mandate (26th, 11 points) probably only need fourth-place finishes to get in.
Interestingly, two of the top choices in each race—Bobby’s Kitten in the Blue Grass and Bayern in the Arkansas Derby—have no points (click race name for FREE Brisnet.com Ultimate PPs). The points system is new, but this phenomenon is not. Smarty Jones put all his graded stakes earnings (the former system) eggs in the Arkansas Derby basket 10 years ago, and Big Brown’s connections took a similar approach with the 2008 Florida Derby, and both went on to win the Kentucky Derby in their respective years.
In Bayern’s case, in particular, I think this quest for points makes the Arkansas Derby easy (famous last words) to decipher because the entry-level allowance winner is going to the front under Racing Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens and will try to run into the Derby gate to wire.
Assuming Bayern isn’t a Bodemeister-level freak (and I’m wagering based on that assumption) the kamikaze-style from the outside post will most benefit Ride On Curlin and Tapiture. The former is 12-to-1 morning line and the latter is 9-to-5, so the choice on which of the two to bet is an easy one.
I’m still a big believer in the traditional Derby-winning profile: good two-year-old form and improving three-year-old form, and Ride On Curlin has that. He was by no means a top two-year-old last year, but he ran fast enough to lay a foundation for a good three-year-old season, and his Rebel when third behind eventual Santa Anita Derby runner-up Hoppertunity and Southwest Stakes winner Tapiture hinted at a future breakthrough performance.
As for the Blue Grass, the fastest horse to date in the field is Extrasexyhippzster, who showed nothing in the Gotham, but plenty of horses have reversed form coming to Polytrack that I’m more than happy to draw a line through that race at his expected price.