Derby Prop Time

It is the time of year the focus starts to shift to the three-year olds and the Kentucky Derby trail. The prep races are underway, and we’ll see a few potential ones this weekend. Over the years some preps have obviously become a lot more productive than others. That said an old racing saying still holds true: a good horse can come from anywhere.

The Derby winner probably is not running this weekend. They may be but the odds are against it. That said of the four Kentucky Derby preps this weekend, the Smarty Jones which drew a full field of 14, the Jerome which drew 8, the Sham which drew 5, and the Mucho Macho Man which drew 6 we’ll look at the Mucho Macho Man. Why you ask, we like Gulfstream in the winter. The Sham did not look like much of a betting race. The Jerome lacked the quality we like in a “Derby prep.” The Smarty Jones is a nice betting affair and is by far the most interesting race of these early potential Derby preps, but with 14 at a mile at Oaklawn the trip likely decides the winner and we went for lower hanging fruit.

The Gulfstream race is a one turn mile out of the chute.

Sport Pepper breaks from the rail with Corey Lanerie. He has some speed and is going turf to dirt and has a win on the dirt at Keeneland. His trainer has won with this move before, and the works are good. I think he has a chance at a big price, but from the rail with other speed in the race he has his work cut out for him. He will need a very crafty ride by Lanerie to win this.

Strike Hard is coming off his career best race. He is the morning line favorite at 2-1. I am not a believer. I’ll need to see him string two together before thinking he can handle these.

Simplification ran huge in his second start and then regressed in the next one. He has speed and stretches out and is bred to run this far and longer. He will likely set the pace and the friendlier the track is to speed the better his chances become. He has back-to-back six furlong works and that is a move you don’t see often but a move I personally like a lot. I think he’s the horse to beat.

Mr. Rum Runner has yet to run a bad one and has speed. He should be in this early, I doubt he is in it late.

Skippylongstocking adds blinkers and has a perfect style for the way this race shapes up. He should be stalking the speed while not too far out of it and get the jump on any closers. He has some bottom to him and also has Tyler Gaffalione up. I will land here based on how I think the race unfolds and the slight edge I give him over the Mott horse we’ll look at next.

Graphic Deal might turn out to be the best horse in here and I like Mott moving him from a maiden win to a stake. He also gets a nice pace set up with speed and stalkers lined up in here. He is working well and Saez should have him rolling at the right time. He can win, and I would not discourage anyone who likes him, but I will lean to the more experienced runner to his inside for this race anyway.

I’ll say one thing about the Smarty Jones, and one thing only. I wish Ben Diesel has a better draw. The 14 post is a tough draw going a mile at Oaklawn.

In the Sham Newgrange might be tough to catch but Oviatt Class has legit trouble in the Breeders’ Cup and can run some.

At aqueduct in the Jerome Ohtwoohthreefive, a name I am glad I do not have to pronounce goes turf to dirt for a very sharp barn and catches the eye.

For all the details on our free Pegasus World Cup seminar take a look HERE. You won’t want to miss it. We hope to see you there! Have a Happy, Healthy, and Safe New Year and enjoy the races!

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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