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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekend Handicapping: Handsome Mike in the Spiral at Turfway Today

Today we get another Derby contender race. There aren't many more opportunities for 3YO to get into the big one. I believe I read connections will need about $250,000 to make the eligible list, this race at Turfway Park will do that for the winner.  We will take a look at the Sprial (G3) going a mile and an eighth for a purse of $500,000, again for 3YO. A big field 12 are going, and as of this writing no scratches.

Contenders:

#12 Handsome Mike ML 4/1

He won't be the favorite and not even sure he will be second in line, but I like this Doug O'Neill trained colt.   It would appear that his best results have been on turf, winning his maiden and then a place finish in a G3. O'Neill took over at the end of his 2YO campaign and it looks like he is finding his footing. His Beyer's are consistent (86 - 88 - 87) and he has held his own against some tough 3YO, Secret Circle and Liaison.  You have to like that Rosario is now on board, and with O'Neill that has been a 22% win record. If he runs anywhere near those Beyer's today, he should hold off this group.  The only downside is the post, he likes to race up close, and it might be tough to get there early.

#7 Ill Conceived ML 8/1

This will our horse for course selection. I liked him in the Battaglia and he ran a strong place finish with a 83 Beyer.  I know many discount him because he races a mid level tracks, but he is a tough knocker, and in these races they can find a way to win.  The added distance will help, his running style fits the group, and Elliott now has one under his belt with him. He could make it interesting.

#3 Heavy Breathing ML 3/1

It wouldn't be a Derby hopeful race without a Pletcher entry. He is the morning line favorite and will probably go off as the favorite when the gates open.  He has has two impressive wins at GP, and is making the normal progression for a Pletcher horse.  Back to back 79's are solid and would expect an improvement today on his third start. Distance is no issue and likes to go forward. The key is how does he handle some of the more experienced 3YO's today? It will be a good test for him, and he certainly has the ability to win it.

Dark Horse:

#4 Went the Day ML 4/1

This will be his first outing since winning his maiden at GP.  This is more of a trainer angle than anything else.  When Graham Motion drops a horse in a Graded race off a maiden win, the intentions are not a prep race.  He has shown he has the speed to run this distance and they are bringing him right back of that win.  Velazquez is on board which is a plus, even though JohnnyV has been a bit off of late, maybe a change in scenery will be good.  Not calling him a dangerous one, but if he stays off the pace a bit he might get his chance.

#11 Stealcase ML 10/1

Here is the dangerous 3YO. Took him a few tries before breaking his maiden, then Mark Casse drops him in the Gotham(G3) and runs into Hansen, and didn't break cleanly.  The connections must be encouraged because he is right back running again. Blinkers on which is a fun angle, Casse has an excellent record these situations, and he changes up and puts Maragh on board.  It would not surprise me to see him in the hunt at the end.

Bombs Away:

#10 Mr. Prankster ML 12/1

I'm a big Michael Maker fan, and to get one of his entries at 12/1 makes your mouth water. Here is another horse for course opportunity, he has won two of three over the TP synthetic. Has shown flashes of speed to compete at this level, and looks like he bounces well off those off tough races. Maker hits 28% on Synthetic and the kicker is he puts on red hot Rosie Napravnik. She'll lay him in the weeds and if the big guns beat each other up, he will be there for all the marbles.

Selections:

12 - 7 - 3  

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