I thought we would go in a different direction today, and not look at the Florida Derby. It's going to be an interesting race no doubt, is Union Rags on track for the Derby? and how good is El Padrino off the Risen Star? But instead of trading punches on that race, there is another race on the card that I think is loaded with contention, and will be exciting.
It's the G3, Orchid for fillies and mares, 4YO and upward. Its a mile and half over the turf course for a $150,000 purse, and a field of nine are going off. What makes this race fascinating is the mix of ladies in it. We have some proven graded winners, ladies that win at the minor stakes level and allowances, and a couple of up an comers. That means while the top ones look strong, there is always that dangerous horse in the bunch that will surprise, especially going a mile and half. So here we go ...
#8 Hit It Rich ML 3/1
It would be easy to put Keertana here and play it safe, but I do think Hit It Rich has the capability of knocking her off. Let's start that she is a graded winner at this distance two back. Her first start here at GP she finishes a close second in a G3 event and post back to back 90 Beyer's. She is a lightly raced 5YO with only 12 races to her credit and has won 5, so her upside is to be determined. McGaughey is an excellent turf trainer and has a super graded stakes record going 25% in 32 starts. Her workouts have been spaced nicely and well done. J J Castellano stays on board and he has won 28% of his turf starts and he will keep her right up there.
#9 Keertana ML5/2
What can you say? She is a dominant force at this level, 5 G3 wins lifetime, several strong efforts at the G2level and has won over a $1,000,000. She is off to a slow start in her 6YO season, looking back you can see she won her first two as a 5YO and 4YO, but she is right there in both of her 2012 races. Proctor is have a great season at GP and putting Leparoux on board doesn't hurt. Unless she is losing a step now, she should be there at the end.
#2 Aqsaam ML 4/1
This 4YO Dynaformer filly has three starts all wins, two on turf. McLaughlin is stepping her up and we would expect the continued improvement in her speed and endurance. Her workouts in March have been nicely spaced and good. She has won going forward and laying back, so versatility is there, and Maragh is on 10 day hot streak winning 11 of 33. It will be a good test, but McLaughlin is tricky in spots like this.
#5 Shimmering Moment ML 6/1
Won her first start in the US at 8/1 here at GP, posting a competitive 87 Beyer. There is a lot of unknowns here, and that is what makes this 5YO mare dangerous. I suspect we have not seen her ceiling yet, not sure if Rocco taking over for Lezcano will affect her. I do know Abbott, while runs a small barn, does a good job with turf runners. Her workouts have been consistent so she is ready. She will run up there with Hit It Rich, the question does she have it in her to beat them back?
#4 Woodford Belle ML 12/1
This 5YO mare has faced the top two recently and held her own. I watched the Very One (G3) and she got off to a bad start and in the stretch she was moving up strongly and it looked like she might have been pinched off a bit. Regardless, she showed a game effort to nail third. She will be the the second pack runner and will let the speed do it's thing. Her speed fig's have been consistent but today she'll need to take a big step forward to beat these ladies. I like Michelle Nihei horses, she runs a small outfit, but when they show up they are ready to run, and usually get a good value.
8 - 9 - 2