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The second jewel of the Triple Crown may feel like a horse turd when the Kentucky Derby winner doesn’t show up, but with the biggest upset in 108 years, I am thankful the connections of Rich Strike didn’t push their horse to run after only two weeks. Rich Strike wouldn’t have been the favorite here. He also wouldn’t have won the Preakness. Trying for the Triple Crown would have broken this future stud. This leaves only nine runners. The favorite is going to be tough to beat, but each runner has a reason for you to believe in them. The real winners will be playing with TVG. They have a promo for new players, and on Friday and Saturday, they have a ton of Money Back Specials at Pimlico just in case your horse runs second or third in select races.
Here is the field, followed by my plays:
- Simplification (6-1)- They took fourth in the Kentucky Derby after starting fifteenth and finishing less than 4 lengths behind the eventual winner. Prior to that they won the Fountain of Youth stakes and then fell short in the Kentucky Derby. John Velasquez is jumping aboard for the first time and is looking to avenge a recent Preakness loss where he was the favorite. It seems Simplification always tries hard and seems to be able to handle the distance.
- Creative Minister (10/1)- This horse ran on the undercard on Derby Day at Churchill and won a very nice optional claiming race by over two lengths. They could improve in only their fourth start. With so much speed in this race, his running style may suit. The two week turnaround could be a concern however.
- Fenwick (50/1)- This horse lost by 36 lengths the last time they ran. They’ve only won 1 race in their whole career and it was at Tampa Bay Downs which is a less than ideal destination for someone looking to win a Grade 1. 50/1 odds should be 99/1 come post time.
- Secret Oath (9/2)- This is the only filly, girl, in the field and she won in impressive fashion in the Kentucky Oaks. D. Wayne Lukas is probably one of the best trainers to ever walk the earth, and at 89 years old, he’s still got it. Luis Saez will be staying onboard and he masterfully planned their trip around Churchill. She has taken on the boys before however, and only took third against some not so great horses. The trip that day from her novice jockey wasn’t great though.
- Early Voting (7/2)- This horse passed on entering the Kentucky Derby to get prepared for this race. They took second in the Wood Memorial by only a neck and won the Withers Stakes in impressive fashion before that tough loss. They’re early speed may help them be the pace setter. The only question is can they handle this distance.
- Happy Jack (30/1)- I don’t see why these connections are running here. They took fourteenth in the derby and have not been within 10 lengths of a winner in their last four races. Tyler Gaffalione jumping aboard is the only positive.
- Armagnac (12/1)- A former Baffert trainee who did nothing in the Santa Anita Derby followed up that disappointment with a nice win in an optional claiming the day after the Kentucky Derby in Southern California. Irad Ortiz jumps aboard, but can they really compete on this level on this short of rest?
- Epicenter (6/5)- He won the Louisiana Derby in such impressive fashion that he was installed as the post time favorite in the Kentucky Derby. He took an honorable second that day to a big longshot who was rolling from the back of the field. The horse did nothing wrong to lose, he just never saw Rich Strike coming up the fence. Joel Rosario will plan out the same trip he did in the Derby, hoping no others come closing from the clouds.
- Skippylongstocking (20/)- They took third in the Wood Memorial and has put in no shows in all the other stakes they’ve raced in. The added distance may actually help them and they’ve been working out well since racing in early April. I also like the fact that they’ve been patient and have pointed towards this race. Can they win? Probably not. But can they finish in the money at a price? I think so.
Epicenter is going to win and provides little value as a win contender, so here’s the best way to make money come race day.
(8) Epicenter on top of trifectas with (2) Creative Minister, (4) Secret Oath, (5) Early Voting, and (9) Skippylongstocking underneath
Exacta Box with (2,5,8)