Yesterday in the Spiral, Went the Day Well (I apologize for botching his name yesterday) got the perfect set up when Heavy Breathing and Ill Conceived took off and set a quick pace. Velasquez put him just off that pace, and made a nice move and dug in tough. Those are the races that are truly exciting to watch. My choice, Handsome Mike, had a rough go of it. I said the 12 hole would be tough. It wasn't only tough but it looked like in the beginning he was a pin ball. Regardless, he showed his grit by rallying for fourth.
Today we go to the next big Derby hopeful race, the 10th running of the Sunland Derby(G3) at Sunland Park. The race is for $800,000 going a mile and an eighth for 3YO, and a field of 8 is entered. There were no scratches at this writing.
#1 Castaway ML 2/1
He is the obvious choice here and has every right to claim it. Won his last trip in the Southwest (G3) easily posting a 92 Beyer. Each race he is improving and looks to be getting better, and Baffert has got him tuned up and ready. Is he unbeatable? No. No 3YO is unbeatable but it will take a big effort from the next two to get it done.
#6 Daddy Nose Best ML 3/1
He is the other G3 winner, winning the El Camino at Golden Gate. He matched Castaway's recent Beyer, the big difference he made a big jump. The question is was that a fluke or has he really improved? I like to think with the stretch out and off turf he improved. He has had three nice workouts indicating the last one didn't blow him out. Lastly, Asmussen is dangerous in these situations, and his racing style suits this bunch.
#4 Isn't He Clever ML 4/1
Even though he is the local hero, you can't overlook a 3YO with four wins in six starts. His only drubbing came in a G2 event at Santa Anita, and that wasn't horrible. His breeding is solid, shows he can run with the top two, and today he gets Contreras, a big plus. Henry Dominquez is a top trainer at Sunland, and wouldn't be surprised to see the #4 upset them all.
#2 Ender Knievel ML 6/1
This will be his second effort since Pletcher took over, where he won his maiden at GP easily. His breeding shows no problem going this distance, Beyer's look consistent to this group, and has been working well. JohnnyV stays on, and is looking for two in a row after the Spiral yesterday. The big question mark? Is he ready to take on a more experienced bunch?
#3 Stirred Up ML 8/1
The second entry for Bob Baffert and is coming back off his maiden win at Santa Anita. He has shown steady improvement in each race as the distances have gotten longer,winning at a mile and sixteenth. His Beyer's are super consistent and seems to run well with Garcia in the irons. This another one where we find out just how good he is. Baffert might have him in here for a prep, but with his running style, a closer, you just never know what will happen. There is enough pace in this race, for the doors to open. Now if we can 10/1 or better!
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I blog over at my site Monday through Friday with a pick of the day.