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Derby Picture Coming Into Focus

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 4/8/2013 7:04:49 PM

With the Santa Anita Derby and the Wood Memorial in the books, the Kentucky Derby picture is much less fuzzy and online sports betting site players can bank on the winners of those races being factors at Churchill.

Last year was resurgence for the Santa Anita Derby so don’t discount this prep. Stars like Affirmed, Majestic Prince, Winning Colors, Silver Charm and Sunday Silence came out of the SA Derby to win the Kentucky Derby.

In 2012, I’ll Have Another prepped in California and his only poor race ever came at Saratoga on a sloppy surface.

He parlayed a win in the Santa Anita Derby to a 15-1 victory in the Kentucky Derby but that was an unusual parlay of late.

On a day when part owner of Goldencents Rick Pitino coached his Louisville basketball team to the Final Four, his runner was on the motor from the sound of the bell and came away late to win the Santa Anita Derby.

Ironically, the Louisville players had honored the injured player Kevin Ware by wearing his Number 5 in the warm-ups last weekend and Goldencents carried that same number to victory as he broke from post 5.

Favored Flashback had every chance to win but he just could not out game Goldencents, who is trained by Doug O’Neill, the winning trainer of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner.

Tracking splits of :46 2/5 and 1:10 2/5, Goldencents got the 9 furlongs of the SA Derby in 1:48 3/5 when recording a 105 Beyer.

Last year, I’ll Have Another went in 1:47 4/5 and earned a 95 Beyer.

Goldencents has been a true betting sites bargain. He cost $62,000, now has earned over $1.2 million, and his tactical speed will be big at Churchill.

Next stop Kentucky.

The Wood Memorial was a great race to watch last Saturday, as Todd Pletcher’s trainee Verrazano remained unbeaten.

Verrazano has now made no mistakes in 4 starts and he really dug in during the drive in the Wood showing some serious grit to hold off a closing Normandy Invasion and spoil Vyjack’s unbeaten record as that runner settled for third.

The son of More Than Ready sat off moderate splits of :49 3/5 and 1:13 3/5 before finishing up in 1:50 1/5 for the 9 furlongs earning a 95 Beyer. One of the important things he did was he proved he could stand up to a challenge once hooked.

Last year Gemologist won the Wood in 1:50 4/5 earning a 98 Beyer but was only a brief factor in the Kentucky Derby.

The Wood has been an important Derby prep for decades. In 1973, Secretariat was third in the Wood before going on to win the Triple Crown.

From 1975 to 1977 every winner of the Wood cashed in the Derby. Foolish Pleasure started the streak, Bold Forbes continued it, and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew completed the 70s Show.

In 1980 the filly Genuine Risk followed in the horse betting footsteps of Secretariat running third in the Wood but winning the Kentucky Derby.

The next year, the long-fused Pleasant Colony parlayed the Wood to success in the Derby.

Go for Gin, Funny Cide and Monarchos were 2nd in the Wood before winning in Kentucky and the last Wood winner to cash in the Run for the Roses was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.

Verrazano’s rider, Johnny Velazquez, has a decision to make, as he is also the regular rider for Florida Derby winner Orb.

Pletcher saw the Wood as an educational tool, Pletcher: “I think he’s still learning, he’s had a tendency to kind of idle a little bit and wait on company down the lane, I thought he did that a little bit. It’s the first time he really had horses real close to him at the finish of a race. Hopefully, every step we make is a learning experience for him and he learns to polish these races off a little better.”

With just weeks remaining to the Kentucky Derby, Verrazano and Goldencents have proven to be true contenders, but there are a number of great story lines waiting all of us in the days to come.

The Arkansas Derby and the Blue Grass will help to put things in focus next, but players should pay attention to other horses in the Run for the Roses too.
Those not mentioned in this article include Revolutionary, Uncaptured, War Academy, Lines of Battle and Will Take Charge.

Good luck the first Saturday in May.

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