These are the top six that I have under consideration for the big race on Saturday:
1) Closing Argument - The best horse in the Derby is working out better than he did before that race and could score here at 8-1 or more.
2) Afleet Alex - Tim Ritchey is so happy with the way Alex has responded to his twice daily appearances on the track that he turns it up a notch. Tomorrow, Alex is scheduled to gallop two miles, go for a swim, jog another two miles, lift weights, work 7 furlongs, take a steps aerobics class, and drag a 50 lb weight and Ashton Kutchner up the side of a steep hill.
3) Giacomo - The Derby winner continues to get no respect, and some fed-up fans at Hollywood Park set fires to trash cans and overturn cars in response to a report in the Daily Racing Form that Andy Beyer flushed a copy of the Derby chart down the toilet.
4) High Fly - When Zito had five in the Derby you thought ‘how can he lose?’ Now you have to pick out which one might bounce back from being badly beaten in that race. High Fly has the most obvious excuse, having stalked the hot pace in his first race in 5 weeks after having compiled a nearly perfect record.
5) Wilko - After the Derby, the Toronto Star reported this:
Trainer Craig Dollase said the son of 1997 Queen's Plate champion Awesome Again bled badly from his lungs.But today’s Daily Racing Form reports this:
"He had a legitimate excuse and he still ran considerably well," Dollase said
Dollase said he doesn't "want to make a big deal about" the trace amount of blood found in Wilko's throat passage after the Derby.It’s good to see that trainers are learning to be honest with the public. Nonetheless, this horse, who has been held in much lower regard at this site, now moves into consideration based on his prospective price, his gameness, and because he raced on that tough Southern California circuit.
"We scoped him and saw just a small amount, but that's normal for the majority of racehorses," he said.
6. Scrappy T - I’ve been reading people who state with absolute assuredness that history tells us that the Preakness winner will not come from the group who didn’t run in the Derby. Not only does he have that going against him, but check out what trainer Robbie Bailes has to say:
"He likes to look around a bit. It's nice to give him a couple days to do that. Hopefully by Friday or Saturday, he'll be settled in." [Bloodhorse]As you may know, no horse that likes to look around a bit has ever won the Preakness.
- Todd Pletcher said that the champion filly Ashado would likely race here on Friday in the Grade 3, $150,000 Pimlico Distaff rather than the Grade 2, $200,000 Shuvee Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park. [DRF]
- UAE Derby winner Blues and Royals is at Belmont but don’t expect to see him until "later in the summer." [DRF]