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Pete’s Picks: Tamarando in Spiral, Chitu in Sunland Derby

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 3/21/2014 11:46:58 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Tamarando, Solitary Ranger, We Miss Artie, Commissioner, Midnight Hawk, Chitu

What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Spiral, The Sunland Derby

Where: Turfway Park, Sunland Park

When: Saturday and Sunday, March 22nd and 23rd

A pair of Grade 3 events for 3YO’s going a mile-and-one-eighth are on the menu this weekend, as the road to the Kentucky Derby winds through Florence, Kentucky on Saturday and Sunland Park, New Mexico on Sunday. The Spiral at Turfway Park features the hard-hitting Tamarando, making his first trip east for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. In The Sunland Derby, we’ll enjoy a rematch between Bob Baffert runners Midnight Hawk and Chitu, with Todd Pletcher hoping to spoil the party with Commissioner. Let’s take a closer look at these Kentucky Derby preps below.

It’s true that closers can be compromised by traffic, especially in big fields like the 12-horse Spiral. Still, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t find a viable alternative to the late-running #4-Tamarando (3-1). John Battaglia Memorial winner #8-Solitary Ranger (6-1) will have other speed to contend with in The Spiral, plus he’ll have to up his game to another level to be competitive in here. #11-We Miss Artie (4-1) is a Grade 1 winner on Keeneland’s polytrack, but his Beyer Speed Figure (70) in that race was way below par. He didn’t show much last out in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park either. Tamarando owns three Beyers going two turns on artificial surfaces (93, 91, 88) that top any figure posted by any other runner in the field. There should be an honest pace, which will flatter Tamarando’s late-running style. Jockey Russell Baze got familiar with Tamarando when they teamed up to win The El Camino Real Derby last out…he’ll work out a trip and make it 2-for-2. I’ll bet on #4-Tamarando to win at odds of 3-2 or better.

Of the Baffert runners in The Sunland Derby, I prefer #9-Chitu (4-1) over #7-Midnight Hawk (5-2). Chitu got the better of his stablemate in the Robert B. Lewis, despite the fact that he was making his 2-turn debut, while Midnight Hawk had already won the Grade 3 Sham going a mile. Also, Midnight Hawk is coming back on short rest, while Chitu is fresh off a 6-week break. With A.P. Indy blood on the dam’s side, Chitu also possesses the right pedigree for this mile-and-one-eighth test. #3-Commissioner (7-2) lost a bit of respect when he checked in 6 th in The Fountain of Youth, but he’s got the quality to rebound with a better effort here. Perhaps the addition of blinkers will make a difference. Plus, it’s always risky to sell any horse short that has the combo of John Velazquez and Todd Pletcher in its corner. I’ll bet on #9-Chitu to win and place at odds of 5-2 or better, and key him over #3-Commissioner and #7-Midnight Hawk in exactas.

Those are my horse racing betting tips for this weekend. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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