VSiN.com senior reporter
Two weeks ago (following our score in Fountain of Youth Stakes the prior week), we debuted this column with suggested bets on the Tampa Bay Derby, Gotham Stakes and San Felipe Stakes as well as the Santa Anita Handicap that same day. Our top value bet in the Gotham, Old Time Revival, nearly stole the race at 35-1 and still paid a whopping $25.80 to place. We also hit a very chalky exacta and trifecta that we put together with Ron Flatter on his VSiN podcast. Personally, I ended up with just a small profit on the day as I was unable to connect the dots on the three Derby preps; hopefully VSiN readers did at least as well.
Now, when I agreed to do this column, I insisted that I wanted to pass when I didn’t have anything I really liked on a given weekend. I know critics say that “Tuley only bets longshots,” but while I wear that as a badge like Cris Carter did with “All he does is catch touchdown,” I know it’s important to be selective. You can’t bet every longshot and expect to be profitable; you have to stick to when you truly believe you have an overlay.
Last week, I passed on the weekend’s Derby preps because there weren’t any longshots that I felt were live enough to warrant a wager. When the top two choices ran 1-2 in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn and the second and third choices ran 1-2 in the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway, I felt great about my decision. Hey, money saved (and not lost) is just as important as picking winners!
That brings us to this weekend. We have the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby (the first 100-40-20-10 points race on the Kentucky Derby trail) on Saturday at Fair Grounds and the Grade 3 Sunland Derby (50-20-10-5) on Sunday at Sunland Park. The latter is wide-open (which we usually like), but there’s no dominant favorites that we can try to beat or to ensure we’re going to get inflated odds on our picks. I’m going to pass on that one, but I really like how the Louisiana Derby is setting up, so let’s take a look at that:
Louisiana Derby on Saturday, March 24
Fair Grounds Race #11, estimated post time: 6:21 p.m. ET/3:21 p.m. PT
Value win bet: The local prep for this races is the Risen Star Stakes and we have the top three finishers from that race – Bravazo, Snapper Sinclair and Noble Indy – and I expect them to be pounded at the windows. There’s a TON of speed in the race and I expect it to set up for a closer, so my value horse is #4 Givemeaminit (20-1 on the morning line after finishing 8 th of 9 in the Risen Star, but he had trouble at the start and never got into the race). If #8 Lone Sailor also goes off at 20-1 or higher, I will probably bet both horses to win (Lone Sailor is another closer who should be passing the fading speed horses in deep stretch).
Exotic box (exactas, trifectas, supers, as well as possible vertical wagers): 1-4-8-9, that’s my two longshots #4 Givemeaminit and #8 Lone Sailor, along with two lower-priced contenders -- #1 Bravazo (7-2) and #9 My Boy Jack (5-2) who should also be coming from off the torrid pace.