Analysis & Selections By: Dean Keppler @Keppskorner
Grade 1 Kentucky Derby: 14- Angel of Empire/17-Derma Sotogake (Jpn)/3-Two Phil’s/11-Disarm
BEST BET: 1-Winter Falcon (Race 8)
Race #1: 3-Mas Rapido (GB) moves back to the main turf course off a solid second over the downhill in the John Shear Stakes and owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (82). 1-Itzel is one of three Peter Miller-trained 3-year-olds lined up in the Saturday turf sprint opener and the lone filly. She adds Lasix, has good speed from the rail and gets in light. Her stablemate 2-Castleknock returns as a first time gelding off nearly a 6-month layoff. The gelding removes the blinkers today, shortens up and has worked well enough.
Race #2: 6-Took Charge goes turf to dirt and stretches out to 7 furlongs for trainer Jorge Periban. This 6-year-old gelding has good speed from the outside with aggressive gate rider and should be well-positioned throughout. 1-Baladi draws the rail on the turnback, and class drop. This gelding’s recent bullet “best of 52’ 4-furlong drill in :46.1 on May 1 certainly catches the eye. 4-Strike That is 2 for 3 at 7 furlongs and goes first off the claim for the Papaprodromou barn. This conditioner is a strong 10 for 29 (34%) with a $2.10 ROI with new acquisitions sprinting on dirt.
Race #3: 6-Mongolian Panther goes turf to dirt on the cutback and projects to be forwardly placed in a race that appears (at least on paper) to lack any serious early zip. 5-Over Attracted returned off the freshening with a sharp runner-up finish at this level going 5 ½ furlongs earning a field’s best (86) turf Beyer. A potential move forward off that effort makes this mare the one to beat in here. 1-Ready Jet Go drew the rail today and finished 3rd behind Over Attracted in the after mentioned April 7 turf sprint.
Race #4: Trainer Peter Miller clicks close to 30% with MDSW to Maiden Claiming dropdowns and 3-Blue Cheese Olive fits that bill. The gelding didn’t show much in recent start after encouraging debut effort but adds blinkers today and switches to apprentice jockey Abdul Alsagoor who has run well for these connections. 1-Montana drops back down in for a tag and when last seen at this level he ran 2nd at Del Mar in his second career start. He ran par (68) for this class level two-back. 5-Stella Boy finished an even 4th on April 9 debut but also drops in for a tag today and can improve with class drop and racing experience.
Race #5: The Phil D’Amato-trained pair of 3-Leisurewear (Ire) and 8-Annaghlasa (Ire) both fit very well in here. Leisurewear returns off a mini freshening off a solid worktab and ran back-to-back solid route grass efforts before taking a break. She ran par or better for this level in both those efforts and will be forwardly placed with inside draw. Annaghlasa (Ire) drops out of the Grade 3 Santa Ana and makes her 3rd start off the form cycle. 1-Pop Pop’s Dream is back on his preferred surface after recent washed off grass event March 11 and makes the all-important 3rd start off the bench. This mare had some solid efforts routing on this turf course in 2022 and should come running late after a ground-saving journey. 2-Hayley Levade stretches out and steps up off sharp turf Maiden score on April 7 and her breeding suggests she should handle a route of ground.
Race #6: The son of American Pharoah 3-Tahoe Sunrise cruised to a game Maiden win for Team Baffert on March 18 and should have little difficult carrying his speed an additional furlong. His stablemate 2-Hard to Figure removes the blinkers today; goes two routes to a sprint and makes 3rd start off the layoff. This colt earned the field’s only triple digit Beyer (100) two back with near miss in the Grade 3 Robert Lewis. 4-Navy Man is also coming off a strong Maiden win and followed up that score with a bullet 5-furlong drill on April 29.
Race #7: 2-Teena Ella could not get to Fast and Shiny in most recent start over the downhill course but has improved substantially since switching to turf for trainer Richard Mandella and is likely to sit a perfect stalking trip this afternoon. 1-The Wild Grazer (Ire) removes the blinkers this afternoon after disappointing try in the China Doll back in March but was a sharp winner over the downhill course three-back. 7-Fast and Shiny has speed and outside draw while seeking third straight win for trainer Bob Baffert. The filly should face some more pace pressure this afternoon, however, and therefore make her somewhat vulnerable late.
Race #8: 1-Winter Falcon ships in from Golden Gate off the Jonathan Wong claim and was a winner in lone main track try last April. This barn has excellent stats with newly acquired purchases and are 2 for 2 when jockey Tiago Pereira takes the call. The gelding makes his 3rd start off the bench; exits a “key” race and has trained well since his last start. The day’s Best Bet. 6-Sonic Brees has been knocking on the door at this class level and ran one of his best races going this 6 ½ furlong trip. 8-Stir the Pot is 2 for 26 but is on the improve and makes third start of the form cycle for trainer Steve Knapp.
Race #9: 2-Yes This Time has enough early and late pace to topple these coming off a good 2nd at this level on April 8 and gets a much better post draw this afternoon. Not to mention the 5-year-old owns the field’s best last out turf Beyer (93). A lot to like here for trainer Mark Glatt. 4-Flashiest hasn’t had the most ideal pace set-ups in recent starts but should get a live race flow to close into today if TimeformUS pace projections are correct. 9-General Mathis was dismissed at 7/1 when April 8 event came off the turf but rallied nicely from just off the pace for convincing win. The gelding projects to get a similar stalking trip today returning to grass.
Race #10: 1-Ole Silver returned off a near 6-month hiatus to score convincingly at this level on April 2 for D’Amato with a solid figure. A move forward this afternoon makes her dangerous for the repeat. 7-Taming the Tigress drops out of 4 consecutive stake races and exits a “key’ race from March 17 where both the first and second place finishers returned to win turf stake events up at Golden Gate. This mare figures to be forwardly placed this afternoon with cozy draw. A big threat if top choice regresses. 5-Sheza Girly Girl returns to the main track where she was a solid winner two-back going 6 furlongs with a solid (77) Beyer.
Race #11: 4-Unconquerable Keen has been sidelined for the last 10 months off encouraging 3rd place finish in first start stateside last July at Del Mar. The gelding was a multiple winner over in Ireland and he’s trained extremely well for today’s return try. He should be flying late. 2-Cherubic Factor has returned from his June 2022 layoff with back-to-back sharp grass sprint efforts and moves up in class in excellent form. 7-Thorne House has been first or second in all 6 career starts (on both dirt and turf) for trainer Dean Pederson. He comes off a troubled trip return try on April 8 over the downhill course and should be a handful making his second start off the bench.