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I had too much to say and not enough time to say it this week — I was going to go through the stretch run multiple times but a technical issue, my own impatience, and my desire avoid a 10-minute vidcast caused me to nix that plan. As an alternative, I’ll go more in depth in print here.
Winner ARCHARCHARCH showed that his Southwest Stakes win was no fluke and gave credence to the idea that he was bothered/hurt last time when Alternation flipped in the gate next to him last time. It’s funny to note that even in winning again at a big number and earning a good figure (98) in the process, he may be overshadowed again in the Kentucky Derby. For one thing, the closer biased track (www.racingflow.com) definitely flattered him. For another, the visually impressive late run of NEHRO (and his astonishing gallop out) might lend more steam the one who finished second. A glance at the current betting odds for the Derby in the UK shows a best price of 12-1 on Archie, that might represent a little value but is nothing to get too excited about.
The aforementioned NEHRO seemed to have a ton of energy in reserve and certainly looks like he’ll get the 10 panels. He’s priced up the same as the AAA-dawg in the UK at the moment and he does look like a more extreme version of him. What I mean by that is while his late run was more eyecatching than Archarcharch’s move, he was also probably more flattered by the track. These horses both have chances in Kentucky but I am not overly sold on either, mainly due to how that surface was playing. There’s also the issue that if a closer wins the Derby, I think it’s going to be Dialed In. All that said, if either of these is a big price and/or I get a great training report from my man on the ground in Louisville, I could see using.
In many ways, DANCE CITY ran the best race in the Arkansas Derby: on or near a contested pace the whole way on a closer biased track and still only beaten by the two flattered closers — and he was bothered in the stretch. He also presumably wasted some valuable energy acting up pre race (though you can also argue that was a small advantage as it kept some of his key rivals in the gate a long time). I know the connections like this guy and it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up. With his pedigree, I don’t see him going any farther, but it sure looks to me like he could be a beast on the cutback.
SWAY AWAY is another who ran sneakily well I thought. He was rank in the first time blinkers, wide throughout and caused some trouble late in the race when he was exhausted. As I say on the video, P Val kinda rode the race like it was a match against The Factor and he paid the price for moving too early and wide into a closer-friendly set up (though the horse may have forced his hand to a degree with his rankness). I would give him extra consideration wherever he turns up next, especially if he’s given a little time to recover from the effort. And perhaps with a change to blinkers off.
ALTERNATION pretty much rode the grain of the bias and ended up an OK, if flattered, 5th. He’s been brought along nicely and is an improver. It has to help that he presumably had an infinitely better racing experience than his last aborted start. He’s one to keep an eye on if not overspotted when he turns up next.
To recycle a line, J W BLUE outran his odds. Keep in mind his odds were 69-1. He benefitted from the set up too. That said, there is some reason for optimism.
I’ve assiduously avoided all the puns until now but THE FACTOR was barely A FACTOR. My read is that they wanted to rate and the horse just wasn’t capable of doing it, creating a breathing problem for himself in the process, as in his debut race. I think he looks like a King’s Bishop horse but Baffert loves him some Derby so don’t be surprised if he joins in the dance (Fogelberg in da house, boyee). He’s probably unbettable but if it’s a situation where he adapts well to Kentucky, looks to have a pace edge and is under the radar in the betting, I’ll take another look. I’m not holding my breath.
Memo to the owners of J P’s GUSTO, a horse I really like: stop before you ruin a good horse. Give him time, maybe put him back sprinting on wax. He ran OK considering the bias but he is just not vibing to be a happy horse in his races anymore. I’d love to see what he could do given time off doing what he does best. If they continue with the Triple Crown nonsense, I’ll continue betting against him with impunity.
I spent valuable video time excusing ELITE ALEX’s run: I really think he hated the blinks and was confused when he was allowed show real speed in his works and then asked to settle in the race. I think he could be interesting for the summer races if handled right.
I don’t have much to say about the reverse superfecta runners at this time, SARATOGA RED, BRETHREN, CALEB’S POSSE or TRUMAN’S COMMANDER. CALEB and BRETHREN had rocky starts and could be given looks if they show up in the right spots after some recuperation time.