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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Blue Grass Musings

- John Ward talked to Bill Finley in the NY Times about Strong Contender:

"It's amazing how experienced he was when he won his second race.....You'd be amazed at how good and how professional he was. Other horses challenged from the inside, from the outside. He had a lot of horses come at him.”
,,,,,,
“He is a late foal. He was born May 15, which makes you a little bit cautious about maturity. But he has done some exceptional things. He has done things that good, older handicap horses do."
It would be pretty exceptional indeed if he passes this test, and I think there has to be some value in order to bet on him. So, this will probably be a post time decision; I think you gotta demand at least 7-2. But you never know what's going to happen on the tote board; I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s second choice, and I could go to Bluegrass Cat if that’s the case.

But how about someone else - anyone have any bright ideas? Some people like Little Cliff, and Zito has been on fire at Keeneland. Haskin claims that the horse didn’t like the track at Tampa Bay, but it doesn’t really make sense to me that Zito would run him there twice if that was the case. His Beyers have shown improvement, but he really hasn't shown that much this year. I get the feeling that some people are just trying to will Zito into the Derby this year, but I think that he just doesn't have the goods.

There’s Sinister Minister, who showed good speed in his first try around two turns, but he wasn’t flattered by Cause to Believe in the Illinois Derby. I’m not buying Seaside Retreat. Court Folly broke slow and rallied for third behind Sharp Humor and he’s won over this track; but his one two-turn race was poor.

So, I’ll probably stick to the top choices unless someone convinces me otherwise. I’ll try to create some more value by hooking my choice up in the late double with Rush Bay in the 10th. He’s making his first start since last July, when he was far back on a yielding course in the Virginia Derby. But you may recall how this one took to the turf after a brief excursion on the Derby trail. In his two grass tries prior to his last, he displayed exhilarating late closes that got him a win in the G3 Jefferson Cup, and an excruciating nose loss in his grass debut, the G3 American Turf. Trainer Tom Amoss has been sharp lately with returnees. On March 22, his Monkey Hill won an allowance at Oaklawn in his first start since July 23 as the 2-1 favorite. There’s some sharp-looking horses for Rush Bay to contend with – Remarkable News, Harbor Master, and Pulpit Talk, but if Amoss has him cranked, I think he’s better than those, and perhaps he’ll be a decent price too.

4 Comments:

Walter said...

...i like Strong Contender today...i think he's probably the best horse in the race...i know it's his first start around two turns, and that's obviously a big problem in the Blue Grass, but Ward has had a helluva lot of time to prepare him for it...i also think that the race sets up well for him, with Sinister Minister and First Samurai potentially knocking each other out up front...i feel that Strong Contender can sit a nice stalking trip today and kick past those two in the lane...Bluegrass Cat figures for a good trip as well, but i just think he'll be overmatched by Strong Contender...i would agree with Alan's assertion that you need value here, though i'd probably take him as low as 3/1...i'd also be looking at an exacta involving Sinister Minister, because i think it's roughly 50/50 he outlasts First Samurai up front, and if Bluegrass Cat fails to fire again, i think Sinister Minister can possibly hold second...should be a very good price if it comes in taht way...as for me, i'm getting ready to head out and look for some matchups...i'd love to get Strong Contender matched vs. First Samurai or Bluegrass Cat at a nice dog price...or maybe Sinister Minister vs. one of the other longshots...btw, i disagree with Nick's assertion (welcome aboard, Nick) that Sinister Minister was "stopping like a $20 Times Squre Rolex" in his previous route attempt...i didn't get that impression at all...sure, Cause to Believe was gonna run past him even if he DIDN'T swerve in and hit the rail, but Cause to Believe is a very good horse (at least in California), and Sinister Minister had set some very hot fractions that day...i'm not touting him to win the race, and i don't expect him to win the race...but i do expect him to run well, and give a good account of himself...

Ruben Bailey said...

Don't you think there is value with Storm Treasure at 59-1 and Strong Contender at 5-2. Looks to me they had similar races two back at GP.

Walter said...

...wow...i didn't expect Sinister Minister to be given an uncontested lead...i certainly would've given him a bigger look, had i anticipated that...he DID set some blazing fractions, so it's not like he had it easy up front or anything...i can't imagine this scene will repeat itself in the Derby, though i suppose it's possible (War Emblem comes to mind)...unfortunately, it looks like Strong Contender is out now...i can't see him coming back a week later in the Lexington, but again, i suppose it's possible...as for Discreet Cat, i'm watching the ABC covergae of the races now (i taped it), and Randy Moss mentioned that Discreet Cat is booked on an April 23 flight to Kentucky...still no announcement from Godolphin, however...as soon as i see one, i'll post it...

...ps...was the Oakjlawn track running slow again today?...the early fractions of the Ark Derby appeared normal, but they sure did finish slow (1:51 1/5)...might be another low-figure win for Lawyer Ron...

Walter said...

...following up on those Derby props...the "under" on the 2:02.20 running time has been bet to -160 (from -140)...the "over" on the $17.70 mutuel price has been bet to -200 (from -160)...i guess someone thought there was value on what amounts to a 16 or 17 horse entry...i can't really argue with that, though most of those horses seem to have little or no chance...i'd rather take my chance with the "under", especially if the price rises to +200 (it's currently (+170)...i feel confident you'll get Brother Derek, Lawyer Ron, and at least one of the Sweetnorthernsaint/Barbaro combo...the only way you can really go wrong @ 2/1 would be if Brother Derek scratches out for some reason...again, just my two cents...