We stayed hot on the Thoroughbred side of the Tuley’s Takes home office last Saturday with our recommended horses filling out the exacta, trifecta and superfecta in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream.
However, I’m not going to brag too much as I did give out five of the horses in the nine-horse race and personally barely doubled my investment despite having the $25.40 exacta, $77.35 trifecta and $46.30 superfecta (five-horse box costs $12 for $.10 per combination). While we certainly don’t want to dismiss the fact that any winning day at the track is a great day (and that even a bad day at the track is better than most days anywhere else), we’re certainly looking for a bigger return on investment when jumping in on these races for our VSiN readers.
I definitely found more satisfaction that the Florida Derby – like the other Kentucky Derby preps we’ve previewed here – was run almost exactly how we handicapped: in this case, Promises Fulfilled (our 18-1 winner of the Fountain of Youth) and Strike Power set a torrid early pace (21.95 opening quarter, 46.37 opening half) and set it up for the closers. Unfortunately, 3-2 favorite Audible finished on top to kill our prices while my top value play, Hofburg (who was bet down to 8-1, so I didn’t bet him to place) finished second, seven and three-quarter lengths ahead of the Mississippi, with Catholic Boy in fourth. Again, we still cashed the tickets, but hoping to find better payoffs this Saturday.
We have the last three major Kentucky Derby preps going off between approximately 5:55 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. ET (2:55 and 3:30 p.m. PT and here in Vegas) with the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland and the Santa Anita Derby at, well, Santa Anita.
Let’s break down each race and see where I can find some betting value:
Wood Memorial, Saturday, April 7
Aqueduct Race #10, estimated post time: 5:55 p.m. ET/2:55 p.m. PT
Value win bet: Those reading this column four weeks ago will remember we had Old Time Revival as our longshot play in the Gotham and he nearly stole it at 35-1 (paying $25.49 to place!). Now, I would normally pass on a horse like this (like I did with Promises Fulfilled in the aforementioned Florida Derby), but Old Time Revival still needs points to get in the Kentucky Derby and the horse that beat him last time out (Enticed) is in this field but he already has enough points and might be out for what I call a public workout (where the main goal isn’t winning this race but instead tuning up for the Run For The Roses). He should also get some pace pressure from Restoring Hope, a California speed horse trained by Bob Baffert. I see this setting it up for a big closer like #3 Evaluator at 20-1. He closed well in his last two races in New York and is eligible to improve off a three-month layoff.
Exotic box (exactas, trifectas, supers, as well as possible vertical wagers): I would not be shocked if any horse won this race (even the #1 Heartfullofstars, coming off his maiden win, or #6 Catch Twenty Two, who did not finish his last race after clipping heels), so it’s hard to narrow down a way to play the exotics, though if you feel the speed horses will hold on, you should be using the 1-4-8-9 on your tickets while those looking for the speed to back up and make way for the closers should include 2-3-6-7 (though I wouldn’t blame anyone for including #5 Enticed to fill out either group).
Blue Grass Stakes, Saturday, April 7
Keeneland Race #10, estimated post time: 6:23 p.m. ET/3:23 p.m. PT
Value win bet: I’m not going to go too crazy in this race as I do believe it sets up for the closers: #11 Good Magic, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and 2-year-old champ, and #10 Free Drop Billy. Good Magic might have enough points already to make the Kentucky Derby, but if he finishes out of the top 4 he could end up on the bubble. So I’m passing on both of them at short prices. The only horse I give a sporting chance to pull the upset is #2 Sporting Chance. However, I’d only bother to bet him to win (or especially place) is he goes off at more than his 10-1 morning-line odds.
Exotic box (exactas, trifectas, supers, as well as possible vertical wagers): Like I said, I’m not going too crazy here as the payoffs could be similar to the Florida Derby with Good Magic and/or Free Drop Billy hitting the board. Still I’ll probably do a 10-cent super box ($12 investment) with 2-3-6-10-11 and obviously hope for one of the longer shots on top.
Santa Anita Derby, Saturday, April 7
Santa Anita Race #10, estimated post time: 5:55 p.m. ET/2:55 p.m. PT
Value win bet: This is the most intriguing Derby prep of the day as #3 Bolt d’Oro is atop many people’s 3-year-old rankings (despite having to be put up via DQ in the San Felipe over McKinzie, who was declared from this race by Baffert and is off the Derby trail) and alleged superstar #6 Justify is 2-for-2 with two romps. However, Bolt d’Oro has enough Kentucky Derby points, so we don’t know how well-intended he’ll be on Saturday while Justify, for all his talent, doesn’t have a single qualifying point and must finish first or second here (note: if you’re looking to bet the Kentucky Derby Future Wager pari-mutuel offering and considering Justify, don’t bet until after Saturday’s race to see if he’ll even be heading to Churchill Downs). So, I wouldn’t bet either with your money; instead, my best value bet is on the #7 Core Beliefs (20-1 on the morning line) to steal this on the front end. Now, if Justify is sent straight to the lead, he could run my horse into the ground, but I’m banking on Baffert having Justify lay off the pace like he did in his last race and Core Beliefs not having to set such blistering fractions and hopefully have something left for the stretch.
Exotic box (exactas, trifectas, supers, as well as possible vertical wagers): Again, I’m not going to go too crazy with the exotics here, though put me down for a trifecta wheel with 6,7/6,7/ALL in case Justify and Core Beliefs do dominate wire to wire as well as 6,7/ALL/6,7 in case they get split. I understand those that want to include #3 Bolt d’Oro in their exotics since he’s the best horse overall, though I would be more inclined to use #1 Instilled Regard, who still needs points.