Friday, March 25, 2016

Handicapper's Corner: Louisiana Derby (GI)

Louisiana Derby (GI) Gets Florida Invader

By: Michael Amo-ThoroFan

With 100 Derby points going to the winner and a good chance to claim the mantle of the leader in the Derby field, the Louisiana Derby will be an exciting race. For some they will need to run the race of their young lives to find their way into the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. 

The course over the last week has been fair with most success found by horses running from the inside of the seventh post position. The three morning line favorites are positioned there ---  Gun Runner, Greenpointcrusader and Mo Tom. 

The field is loaded with stalking-style-runners with only a couple who have shown a proclivity to take the lead. Pace may be a problem for the closers. Only one horse, Battery, has run the distance of today’s race. Although it was in allowance company, he won it. Coming in from Gulfstream Park for Todd Pletcher at 10-1 suggests some opportunity. Here is a look at the field:

1. Gun Runner (Candy Ride) from the rail will be in the race and get a number of calls. He is working nicely and keeps his Risen Star jockey. If he had not been bumped at the 7/8 pole, maybe he would have won by more in the last race. Dangerous, but may get caught in a speed duel.

2.  Greenpointcrusader (Bernardini) returns after an eight week rest from a battle with the current Derby point leader, Mohaymen in the Holy Bull. His fractions were honest with a strong finish losing by 3 ½ lengths. He, too, was bumped, but kept his mind in the game. Velasquez returns to ride him.

3.  Battery (Bernardini) has shown his ability to get the mile and an eighth. He is coming up in company and may need this one. But the Pletcher/Castellano combination can be dangerous in any race.

4. Conquest Windycity (Tiznow) working exceptionally well with two bullets for trainer Mark Casse. May have trouble getting this distance, although his sire suggests not a problem.

5. Candy My Boy (Candy Ride) is the frontrunner that they will be chasing. He should have some trouble staying on the front for the nine furlongs, but may stay for some exotics.

6. Mo Tom (Uncle Mo) has had his picture taken in half the races he has run with other 50% holding for 3rd. Gets the services of a hot jockey, Corey Lanerie (27%). Should run back to his last with the rest. As a serious closer, he may not get the pace to run into. If he is to win, he has to get in the race early.

7. Toms Ready (More Than Ready) may not be ready for this level and distance. He has not shown great improvement from his 2-year-old year. Running against some of the same ones that beat him in the Risen Star suggests not much of different outcome.

8. Uncle Walter (Uncle Mo) had serious trouble in the Risen Star finishing last by 41 lengths. Trainer Maker tries blinkers to see if they will help. Needs more than blinkers to take this one.

9. Dazzling Gem (Misremembered) has a hot trainer, Brad Cox (35%). He ran a terrific last race in which two of the runners came back to win. Keeps jockey Bridgeman who works miracles with the trainer. Working nice. Big step up, but could surprise for a piece.

10. Zapperini (Ghostzapper) is another closer that will have trouble making up ground in the stretch. No excuse in the Risen Star and shouldn’t do much better here.

11.Forevamo (Uncle Mo) has two seconds over the Fair Grounds track. Showing nice improvement from last year. In the Risen Star he saved ground and moved fast in the last 2.5 furlongs. His problem is post position. If he can overcome that he will be dangerous in the stretch. With a 10-1 morning line odds there may be value in the play.

With inside post positions more favorable, horses 1-5 should be driving into the first turn. Gun Runner and Candy My Boy should vie for the lead. Greenpointcrusader should be breathing down their necks. As they settle into the backstretch expect Mo Tom and Forevamo to seek strategic positions in the field. As they turn into the stretch Gun Runner will have disposed of Candy My Boy and will be bracing for the challenge from Greenpointcrusader. Mo Tom and Forevamo will try to make a race of it. Greenpointcrusader will prevail with Gun Runner, Mo Tom and Forevamo fighting for second.

My picks:
1.  Greenpointcrusader (2)
2.  Forevamo (11)
3.  Mo Tom (6)
4.  Gun Runner (1)
5.  Dazzling Gem (9)

Bets: ($99)
$25 place: 11  ($25)
$5 Exacta Box: 2,6,11 ($30)
$5 exacta part wheel: 2/6,11 ($10)
$5 exacta part wheel: 6,11/2 ($10)
 $1.00 Trifecta key: (2,11) (1,2,6,9,11) (1,2,6,9,11) ($24)
[$1 tip for the bathroom attendant]

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