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Pete’s Picks: Top Billing in Fountain of Youth, Vicar’s in Trouble in Risen Star

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 2/21/2014 9:00:10 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Commissioner, Wildcat Red, General a Rod, Top Billing, Rise Up, Hoppertunity, Intense Holiday, Vicar’s in Trouble

What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Fountain of Youth, The Risen Star

Where: Gulfstream Park, Fair Grounds

When: Saturday, February 22nd

Post position is the hot topic in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby prep races. In The Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, morning-line favorite Commissioner drew the rail and second choice Top Billing drew Post 12. Likewise in The Risen Star at Fair Grounds, also on Saturday, favorite Vicar’s in Trouble drew Post 14 (although he’ll move in one spot due to the scratch of Bond Holder). Let’s take a closer look at these key stops on the Kentucky Derby trail below.

Jockey John Velazquez will be reunited with #1-Commissioner (3-1) in The Fountain of Youth. Commissioner, with Jose Lezcano aboard, outdueled the highly-regarded #12-Top Billing (7-2) at this venue back in early January, and it would come as no surprise if these two battled it out to the wire once again. Top Billing has since cleared his entry-level allowance condition in fine style, and it will be up to jockey Joel Rosario to negotiate a trip from the extreme outside with a short run to the first turn. Both colts have trained well for this, and both need to start accumulating points to ensure eligibility for the Run for the Roses. #4-Wildcat Red (6-1) and #5-General a Rod (5-1) put on a show of their own New Year’s Day, with General a Rod prevailing by a head. Both have talent and fit well here based on Beyer Speed Figures, but must prove that they can be equally effective going two turns. I’m picking Top Billing to win The Fountain of Youth. He benefits from a 4-pound weight shift vs. Commissioner, and I believe that Rosario can avoid dramatic ground loss on the clubhouse turn after the speed horses clear. I’ll bet on #12-Top Billing to win and place at odds of 5-2 or better.

If #14-Vicar’s in Trouble (5-2) loses the Risen Star, I don’t think it will be to any of the horses he vanquished in The LeComte. Several new shooters appear capable of giving the favorite trouble. #2-Rise Up (4-1) is the field’s leading earner ($810,633) by a wide margin, and is already a winner of three stakes, including the rich Grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot last out. However, he’s coming off a three-month break, and makes his Fair Grounds debut. Demand value. #8-Hoppertunity (8-1) and #9-Intense Holiday (8-1) hail from the Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher barns respectively. You know that sophomore shippers from these outfits at this time of year merit respect…these two are no exception. Hoppertunity looked good defeating maidens at Santa Anita on the stretchout and Intense Holiday may find the long Fair Grounds stretch more to his liking. These runners can be used in all spots in the exotics. Despite his wide post, I’m sticking with #14-Vicar’s in Touble (5-2) to win The Risen Star. He’s got plenty of early speed to get a good position before the first turn. This little guy’s legs are a blur when he’s motoring down the lane…with a decent trip he should get the job done. I’ll bet on #14 Vicar’s in Trouble to win and place at odds of 8-5 or better.

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


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