Derby Dollars Contest Analysis: Who To Pick In Saturday’s Three Derby Preps?

With Kentucky Derby points races on tap in New York, Florida and California Saturday, it’s obviously an important weekend in terms of qualifying for the first Saturday in May. That means it’s also a big weekend for your contention in the Derby Dollars Contest, sponsored by and the Paulick Report.

For each of this week’s 50-point Road to the Kentucky Derby races, contestants will make mythical $2 win, place and show wagers. It’s not to late to sign up and join in on the fun. It’s free and quick to enter at

Here are my selections for Saturday’s Derby preps.

Gotham Stakes contenders and analysis:
Dial Operator dominated by 4 1/2 lengths in his last start and has the potential to run as well or better today, having earned a field high 99 Equibase figure in that race, his second start off a layoff. That effort and figure are likely to be improved upon in his third start off the layoff and as both the third and sixth finishers behind him won their next starts. Firenze Fire won the Jerome Stakes over the track at this one-turn mile trip in January before a runner-up effort behind Avery Island around two turns last month in the Withers Stakes and cutting back to one turn may be the key to a return to his Jerome form.

Free Drop Billy scratched out of last week’s Fountain of Youth Stakes for this race after being no match for Audible last month when that one won by 5 1/2 lengths in the Holy Bull, and he has room to improve in his second start following three months off. Whereshetoldmetogo may go to post at high odds so must be noted. He is the most heavily raced horse in the field with eight starts under his belt and has run the two best races of his career at about this trip, first when beaten a neck at a mile in the Smooth Air Stakes in December with a 102 figure that stacks up well with the top contenders in this race, then in his most recent race when adding blinkers for a 6-length win. I am taking a stand against Enticed as his fourth place Holy Bull effort when beaten 14 lengths isn’t one I think he can rebound from to be competitive in this race.

My Derby Dollars contest play in the Gotham Stakes will be Dial Operator

Tampa Bay Derby contenders and analysis:
World of Trouble has dominated in two of his three career starts, winning by margins of 14 lengths in those two winning races and missing by a half-length in the other. In winning the Pasco Stakes by nearly 14 lengths in his most recent race, World of Trouble earned a field high 109 Equibase Speed Figure that makes him hard to beat in the Tampa Bay Derby particularly as he is the fastest horse in the early stages and should be able to control the tempo on the front end from the start.

Flameaway ran nearly as fast as World of Trouble when victorious in the Sam F. Davis Stakes last month, earning a career best 106 figure. Likely to run even better in his third start following a layoff, Flameaway appears very capable of winning for the sixth time in his eighth career start. Vino Rosso can be expected to improve significantly off his recent third place effort behind Flameaway in the Sam F. Davis Stakes, not only because he is making his second start off a layoff but also because he is adding blinkers.

My Derby Dollars contest play in the Tampa Bay Derby will be World of Trouble

San Felipe Stakes contenders and analysis:
Kanthaka has run the fastest of any of the eight San Felipe entrants to date and although all three of his races (including two wins) came around one turn I don’t see that changing when all is said and done at the end of this two-turn race. With Lombo, Calexman and possibly Aquila likely to contest the pace on faster than average early fractions, Flavien Prat can guide Kanthaka to the inside before the turn and save ground, then come out for the stretch run and power past the field as he did last month winning the San Vicente Stakes easily by three lengths. Prat also rode Lombo to victory in last month’s Robert B. Lewis Stakes and chooses to ride Kanthaka once again, which appears to be the right choice as Kanthaka’s last race 114 Equibase figure is better than Lombo’s 107 figure, not to mention Kanthaka is not a need-the-lead type and is making his second start as a three year old so has more improving to do than Lombo, who is running for the fourth time this year..

McKinzie is also very logical but could go to post as the favorite. McKinzie has improved in each start including a 110 figure winning the Sham Stakes two months ago before being flattered when Sham third place finisher My Boy Jack won the Southwest Stakes in his next start with an eight point improvement in his figure. If McKinzie improves similarly to the 118 range and Kanthaka takes the logical step forward, we may be in for a real treat.  

Ayacara may not win the San Felipe but we must remember this colt for next month’s Santa Anita Derby because of his connections. The combination of trainer Keith Desormeaux and his brother Kent as jockey have been formidable for years on the Derby trail, proven once again with My Boy Jack posting the upset win in the Southwest Stakes last month. Ayacara won on dirt and around two turns as a 2-year-old last year then in his third start as a 3-year-old last month in the Lewis.  Following races on all-weather and turf, he ran big to close from eighth of nine to get second behind Lombo, who was allowed an easy lead on the front end. If the pace in the San Felipe is exceptionally hot, Ayacara could get up in time to post the upset just as My Boy Jack did recently.

One possible longshot to consider is Aquila, who has also improved in each start (67, 89 and 105 figures) but who is going from the maiden ranks to the graded stakes ranks against horses already proven at the level. As a son of Union Rags out of a Mr. Greeley mare, I think Aquila will be a factor on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and he has shown the ability to come from off the pace, as when second one race before last. Aquila may be a horse to consider particularly for exacta and trifecta bets we make in this race. Peace is another with a shot as we can draw a line through his poor effort in the Robert B. Lewis as the race served as an experiment in blinkers that failed and is now over. Before that Peace earned a 104 figure around two turns and the horse that finished third in that race improved markedly to win next out (97 to 108). With Hall-of-Fame trainer Dick Mandella calling the shots, we might be regretting any decision to discount Peace as a contender.

Regarding Bolt d’Oro¸ I have the words “Next Time” in bold letters on my past performances because I think although he’s very talented and is still a Kentucky Derby contender (until proven otherwise), he is going to be well short of ready to win a race like the San Felipe. He earned a strong 109 figure when winning the Front Runner Stakes over the track last September before being wide throughout in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but still ending up third with a 101 figure. Coming back from four months off against horses who have run this year and horses who have performed well in stakes, Bolt d’Oro will benefit greatly on a physical and mental level and certainly has a chance to be part of the exacta or trifecta but I am not considering him a win contender. 

My Derby Dollars contest play in the San Felipe Stakes will be Kanthaka.

The Derby Dollars Contest is free to play and offers $2,500 in cash prizes. Sign up now!

The post Derby Dollars Contest Analysis: Who To Pick In Saturday’s Three Derby Preps? appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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