Monday Morning Message with Jason Beem April 8, 2024

April 8th, 2024

Jason looks back at the Derby preps from the weekend and a huge day for jockey Frankie Dettori. 

A good Monday morning to you all! 

Busy weekend in the books and we’re down to our final prep for the Kentucky Derby (G1) this weekend with the Lexington (G3) at Keeneland wrapping up the Road to the Derby. The Kentucky Oaks (G1) series is finished up and so we have our final points list there. We’ll certainly talk about all of that more in the coming weeks, but as I like to remind my podcast listeners, you don’t have to have wagering opinions on the race until you see the odds and the windows are open. Sure, it’s fun to banter about from now until then, but we got plenty of good every day races to tide us over for the next three plus weeks. 

All three major Derby preps I thought produced exciting prospects but certainly it seemed as though Sierra Leone stamped himself as a top-two choice going into the big race. He once again came with a big kick and it just appears that the added distance is just going to benefit him. Detractors will point out that he’s going to have to pass a lot of horses in the Derby and that’s important to note when you’re going to take, say, 3-1 or 7-2 on him at the windows. To me, right now, he’s the best horse of this group. 

When it comes to these Oaks and Derby trail races so much attention gets paid to the winner. Which makes sense: to the winner go the spoils as they say. But if Sierra Leone runs that similar deep-closing race on that speed-favoring surface at Keeneland, but comes up a half-length short, are we still talking about him as a favorite or second choice for the Kentucky Derby? In this case, I think we are. I think he had enough resume coming into this race that a big effort against a bias would have still gotten him some a lot of support at the windows. The fact that he not only won but won going away from his rival, who had a perfect trip, just cemented a little more that he’s going to be a top-two choice. 

I think you can make the case that both the top two favorites have some vulnerabilities and question marks, which to me makes the race all the more interesting. After all, it’s a horse race. There’s so many things that can happen that lead to a victory or cost a horse a shot at a win. The strangest thing that happens to me after every Derby is it usually seems so obvious after the fact. But I suppose that’s most sporting outcomes. Except Rich Strike, that one still perplexes me. But like always, the Kentucky Derby and Oaks will be very interesting and great races. 

Big tip of the cap to Frankie Dettori who pulled off the rare feat of not only winning six races on a card, but winning six in a row at Santa Anita. What might be even more incredible was that only one of them was a winning favorite and that horse was 4.40 to 1! In fact the early Pick 4 at Santa Anita, which saw Dettori win all four legs, paid $1,794 for just a 50-cent ticket. Absolutely incredible stuff. 

I really only ever heard about Frankie when he would come to the States for the Breeders’ Cup and would do his jump-off-of-the-horse thing in the winner’s circle. I’ve just never followed international racing that close, so other than knowing who he was, I hadn’t gotten to see him ride on a regular basis. The fact that he’s winning at 20% this year and is well on pace to destroy his previous career earnings high for a season in the U.S. is pretty amazing, considering his age and the fact this is supposed to be the end of his career. Just fantastic stuff that unfolded at Santa Anita on Saturday. 

Have a great week everyone!