Yesterday’s Risen Star turned out to be quite a race! Our pick Mark Valeski dueled El Padrino right down to the wire. I admit, I was wary of El Padrino’s last outing, but he showed he is going to be a tough customer on the road to the Derby. At Gulfstream Park today, we could argue this is the first big Derby hopeful test, Fountain of Youth (G2) for a purse of $400,000. Eight starters are going to go a mile and sixteenth and on paper it looks like a two horse race, Algorithms and Union Rags. They are the definite heavyweights here, but when you look a bit deeper there are one or two entrants that could upset today. Let’s take a look …
#7 Union Rags ML 2/1
For me he is still the one to beat. Yes, Hansen won the BC Juvenile, but Union Rags showed a determined effort finishing second. He ran four wide at Churchill and just missed beating Hansen, and we have seen Hansen is beatable. Three consistent Beyer numbers, Matz has him working well and look forward to him getting back on the winning track. There isn’t a lot of front end speed so the pace suits him well. Normally, it would bother me with a jockey change, but I see no drop off with Leparoux taking the irons.
#5 Discreet Dancer ML 3/1
Realistically Algorithms would be in this slot, but I’m going with handicapping instincts and I really like Discreet Dancer in this place. If the odds hold, he would be my money play. It will be his first big test, but he has shown excellent speed over his first two (98 – 96). Pletcher is bringing him along perfectly, his workouts have been outstanding and Velazquez jumps on board. Some might say he is the rabbit for Algorithms today, but if he gets loose there is no way he will give it up.
#2 Algorithms ML 8/5
He had a monster race in the Holy Bull taking down Hansen, popping a 105 Beyer. My only issue, and fell prey to it yesterday, but his biggest race was on an off track. Prior to that his speed was improving but to jump from 88 to 105 is always suspect. El Padrino showed me up yesterday, but overall, I will shy away from these youngsters with these big pops. He certainly has all the ability, training and breeding to win it. Regardless, the price will be miserly so we would layoff anyway.
No dark horse today.
#1 Neck ‘n Neck ML 15/1
It was between him and Fort Loudon and in the end will go with the #1. He has shown nice speed improvement, and ran a good race in the SF Davis at Tampa. He raced seven wide and was closing fast. Ian Wilkes puts blinkers on, and that is always an interesting to play, has shown he can handle the distance, and if Lezcano keeps him close he might have a shot to win it. It’ll take a big effort, but again I stress with young 3YO’s you never know who wakes up.
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