Equidaily Racing Journal



Saturday, May 7, 2011
Picks and plays for some of the day's major stakes
by Seth Merrow

Turf selections/wagers are turf only

Best Bets

Churchill: Race 3... exacta box, Golden Triumph/CJ Russell/Hot Pursuit... Ran WON-5-scr.
Churchill: Race 11... WPS on Nehro... Collected xxx, 8.80, 6.40.
Churchill: Race 13... WPS on Brock... Ran 7th at 14-1.
Churchill: Race 13... $1 exacta Brock over ALL... Key ran 7th at 14-1
Hollywood: Race 4... exacta box, Hard Sun/Capital Plan/Nereid... WON-7-8.
Hollywood: Race 10... exacta box, Cambina/Star Billing/Wave of Applause... Won-3-4

A = top selection
B = second selection
C = third selection
D = fourth selection
Ab [or Bc, etc]... Move-up top pick [or second pick, etc] after scratches
x = not among our selections

Churchill: G1 $2mil Kentucky Derby

If the 4th race at Belmont on a Thursday afternoon had a field that was this difficult to decipher I would take a pass - but the field size combined with the crazy-huge pools make the Kentucky Derby a once-a-year experience where your opinion -- no matter how weak it might be -- can be greatly rewarded. So we'll jump in with some gusto, gusto at least in regard to hoping for that big payday, not so much for the actual selections.

Nehro...Had this guy on top in the Louisiana Derby only to have him come up just short at 36-1. He was also in our mix in the Arkansas Derby - but again just missed, this time at 9-1. So we've been chasing him this spring and certainly don't want to jump off the bandwagon and then have him win without us. But it's more than that - the horses we're using are tending to look like they're moving forward and might be primed to hit a triple digit Beyer figure. That's clearly the case with this guy. Those two stakes efforts were very good and improving. If Nakatani can get some decent position early that late kick might get the job done today.

Midnight Interlude...Another that seems to be getting better and look to be on the verge of breaking the 100 Beyer mark. Looked a little green in the stretch of the Santa Anita Derby but was gutsy running down Comma to the Top once he got rolling. With only four starts - the first being this year - he's bucking some Derby trends, but this might be the field where that can happen.

Archarcharch...The knock here is clearly the one-hole -- but it looks like this one can stalk or come-from-behind so if Churchill-experienced jock Jon Court can at least get some half-decent position in the first furlong a strong finish won't be a surprise.

Mucho Macho Man...Only off the board finish was a troubled trip in the one-turn Holy Bull. He should benefit from his Fair Grounds efforts and is another that could be set to move forward.

Master of Hounds...Normally wouldn't give a recently off-the-plane Euro import a shot in the Derby - but there's been plenty of talk this week about how slow this bunch is so perhaps this is the spot for a Euro second-stringer to run as well on dirt as they often do when they ship over to run on grass.

RESULTS: x"F" [add-in] -A-D-x-E [xxx, 8.80,6.40] ex $329.80/$2, longshot add-in Animal Kingdom [43.80, 19.60, 13.00]

Wager: $5 WPS on Nehro.
...$2 WPS on Master of Hounds/Animal Kingdom.
...$2 exacta box top three.
...$1 exacta box top five, plus Animal Kingdom.
...$1 tri box top five.
...$.10 superfecta box top five.

The rest [commented on in post position order]:

Brilliant Speed certainly has looked good on grass - and won the G1 Blue Grass on synthetic last time. But he flopped in two dirt tries - however, it's possible he's just better now.
Twice the Appeal...Certainly seems appealing to early-bird bettors who have made him the shocking second-choice. Have to believe it's the Borel-factor. Yeah, it's possible he's just getting good, and we suppose this winner of the G3 Sunland Derby was flattered somewhat by Friday's Oaks victory by the Sunland Oaks winner - but this guy did break his maiden four starts back for $30K. Of course, that angle worked for Charismatic back in '99.
Stay Thirsty...Repole and Pletcher have another bullet in the holster after Uncle Mo's defection. Gotta believe he's better than the Florida Derby flop and maybe the blinkers were the problem. Loses them today - but still probably has to step it up a little more than he seems ready for - although, he wouldn't be a shock.
Decisive Moment...Second-place finishes in the G3 Delta Jackpot and G3 Spiral gave him the dough to get into this starting gate. But he hasn't won a graded stake - or even run in a G1.
Comma to the Top...Will take them as far as he can go - and gutsy effort in the G1 Santa Anita Derby says that might be farther than some think.
Pants on Fire...Doh! Beat us in the Louisiana Derby. That was a nice, improved effort - but we're old-school and the layoff since Mar 26 is a concern.
Dialed In...Likely fave has the record to demonstrate his talent. He's one that could throw a monkey-wrench into our plays - but we'll take a stand against and hope he's at his best at Gulfstream and perhaps a little less so here.
Derby Kitten...Became eligible with a win two weeks ago in the G3 Lexington and some defections further up on the graded earnings list. Owner is a perennial leader at Churchill and would certainly like a Derby trophy but this guy looks more turf meant.
Twinspired...Another with talent that needs to prove himself on dirt.
Santiva...Seasonal debut seemed to indicate some nice 2YO to 3YO maturity and then followed with a race that might just have been a reaction to the synthetic. Improvement off of that 3YO debut with the return to dirt might make this one dangerous at a price.
Shackleford...Was getting some buzz this week and was gutsy in G1 Florida Derby - his third 9F race of the year. Just not totally convinced on him - but he's another that has shown enough that he wouldn't be a shock.
Animal Kingdom...Like some others he's talented but hasn't shown it on dirt yet - however, workout reports for him on the Churchill strip have been good. He could prove dangerous.
Soldat...Beaten favorite in the G1 Florida Derby might, by Saturday evening, be another of those horses who overcomes the bettors what-have-you-done-for-me-lately mentality. Look no further than Archarcharch to see what losing faith over one race can cost.
Watch Me Go...Looked pretty solid in the Tampa Bay shocker - then flopped in illinois. Hmmm.

Churchill: Turf Sprint G3 $100K

RESULTS: B-C-A [xxx, xxx, 2.60] ex $27.20/$2, tri $60.20/$2

Chamberlain Bridge...Won G2 BC Turf Sprint over this course in November.
Regally Ready...Solid SoCal sprinter.
Bridgetown...5-for-7 at the trip.
Custom for Carlos.

Wager: $5 WP on Chamberlain Bridge.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Churchill: Distaff G1 $300K

RESULTS: x-A-B [xxx, 2.60, 2.20]

Hilda's Passion...Her last two were eye-poppingly good - but can she do it again away from Gulfstream? We'll see...
Amen Hallelujah...Behind the top pick two back but a talented sprinter.
Evening Jewel...She can do it all. Third in the G1 BC F/M Sprint here.
Shotgun Gulch.

Wager: $5 WP on Hilda's Passion.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Churchill: Distaff Turf Mile G2 $200K

RESULTS: x-x-A [xxx, xxx, 4.60]

Fantasia...Fourth in this race last year at 5-2 so she's clearly no cinch - but could be interesting in second start of 2011.
Never Retreat...Looks like the one to beat off of her last two.
Upperline...Also coming in off of two good winning efforts.

Wager: $5 WP on Fantasia.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Churchill: CD G2 $300K

RESULTS: B-C-x "A" ran 6th at 5-2... ex $144.20/$2

Smiling Tiger...SoCal sprinter comes in off of some time spent at Oaklawn which is a plus.
Aikenite...We chased him all last year - to little benefit, but he might be getting good.
Apriority...Bona fide speedball.
Captain Cherokee.

Wager: $5 WP on Smiling Tiger.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Churchill: Turf Classic G1 $500K

RESULTS: x-C-B "A" ran 5th at 3-1

Prince Will I Am...Connections have said flat-out that the more distance the better for this guy - so he might run out of ground. But he has won at 9F in the past and he looks good in this bunch.
Doubles Partner...Undefeated on this course and has run well in two starts so far this year.
Smart Bid...He'll contend on his best effort.
Al Khali.

Wager: $5 WP on Prince Will I Am.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Belmont: Beaugay G3 $100K

RESULTS: x-Cd-Bc "A" 5th at 5-2.

Comic Marvel...Very lightly-raced 4YO from Juddmonte/Mott could prove interesting on grass.
Maram...Hard to take too short of a price on a runner that doesn't start too often and has been away since August.
Bet on the Blue..."Giant Killer" trainee just missed last time.
Gitchee Goomie.

Wager: $5 WP on Comic Marvel.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Belmont: Ft Marcy G3 $100K

RESULTS: D-x-C "A" 5th at 5-2.

Riviera Cocktail...Stepped it up first try for new barn.
Mikoshi...Behind the top pick last time but looks set for a good try.
Sal the Barber...Doesn't often string them together - and doesn't today either.
Straight Story.

Wager: $5 WP on Riviera Cocktail.
...$5 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

Hollywood: Leroy Hcp G2 $150K

RESULTS: B-A-C [xxx, 2.10, ---] ex $15.20/$2

Sidney's Candy...Showed plenty of promise last year. Making 4YO debut here.
Crown of Thorns...Stretching sprinter.

Wager: $5 W on Sidney's Candy.
...$2 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top three.

Hollywood: Senorita G3 $100K

RESULTS: B-x-A [xxx, xxx, 2.10]

Cambina...Brings in a three-race win-streak.
Star Billing...Debut win was nice.
Wave of Applause... The one to catch?
Hard to Resist.

Wager: $5 WP on Cambina.
...$4 exacta box top two.
...$1 exacta box top four.
...$1 tri box top four.

If we are interested in both halves of an entry -- in event of a scratch -- it is noted that way [in other words, both halves are named]. If only one-half of the entry is named, then we prefer that half and will move to our next pick listed [rather than the other half of the entry] in event of a scratch.

Coast-to-coast Archives...Picks, plays and results from previous weeks


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