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What does racing analyst Ed DeRosa have to say?
DeRosa’s top picks for the three graded races that form part of this weekend’s Road To The Derby $10k are:
Oaklawn Park Race 9, Grade II Azeri Stakes – MyLady Curlin
“This is a rematch of the Houston Ladies Classic and with the top 4 finishes of that race only separated by a length, why not take the bigger price about MyLadyCurlin,” said DeRosa.
Oaklawn Park Race 10, Grade II Rebel Stakes – No Parole
“He’s been untested in 3 career starts and while he certainly faces a tougher task here, I expect him to sit just off the favored Nadal and get the jump on the rest of the field,” said DeRosa.
Turfway Park Race 11, Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks – Invader
“Invader is currently 10th on my Derby Top 10 list, and because I like him to potentially wear the roses on May 2, I have to like him here too,” said DeRosa.
Racing analyst Keeler Johnson is ready to share his plays for the weekend contest action:
Road to the Derby: Rebel Stakes
$1,000 Bonus Cash
To pick the top four finishers in Saturday’s $1 million Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has won the Rebel six times since 2010, so I’ll keep the numbers on my side and favor Baffert’s undefeated colt #1 Nadal, who has trained up a storm since winning the San Vicente (G2) last month. From the rail draw, Nadal can lead all the way to win.
For the runner-up spot, #4 Silver Prospector is a logical choice off his quick victory in the Feb. 17 Southwest (G3) over this track and distance. #6 Three Technique was compromised by a speed-favoring track when finishing second in the Smarty Jones S. two months ago and can improve in his second start of the season, while longshot #7 Coach Bahe overcame a troubled trip to break his maiden at Fair Grounds and can rally to round out the superfecta at a price.
- 1st: Nadal
- 2nd: Silver Prospector
- 3rd: Three Technique
- 4th: Coach Bahe
Road to the Derby $10K
$10,000 Bonus Cash
To pick the winners of five major stakes races on Saturday, including two Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races.
The Essex H. at Oaklawn contains very little pace on paper, giving the speedy stakes winner #7 Pioneer Spirit a tactical advantage over his late-running rivals. In contrast, there are a handful of speedy types in Oaklawn’s Azeri (G2), so we’ll favor the 2019 Cotillion (G1) winner #1 Street Band, a strong stretch runner conditioned by hot trainer Larry Jones.
The two Derby preps look fairly straightforward. We’ll back #1 Nadal in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn, while in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), we’ll take a stand with #12 Field Pass. Turf horses tend to excel in the Jeff Ruby, which is held over the synthetic Polytrack course at Turfway Park, and Field Pass rallied gamely through traffic to win Dania Beach S. over the Gulfstream Park turf course last month. It’s also worth trainer Mike Maker has won the Jeff Ruby five times, including three of the last four editions.
Speaking of the Jeff Ruby, 2019 winner #10 Somelikeithotbrown looks tough to beat in the Kentucky Cup Classic at Turfway Park. Blessed with an abundance of tactical speed, Somelikeithotbrown is 3-for-3 over the Turfway Polytrack and had no difficulty winning a 1 1/16-mile allowance race on Feb. 21 with a career-best 102 Brisnet Speed rating.
- Essex H: Pioneer Spirit
- Azeri (G2): Street Band
- Kentucky Cup Classic: Somelikeithotbrown
- Rebel (G2): Nadal
- Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3): Field Pass