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Pete’s Picks: Winning Cause in Lexington, Departing in Illinois Derby

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 4/19/2013 4:40:05 PM

Who: Thoroughbreds – Winning Cause, Sunbean, Pure Fun, Ground Transport, Abraham, Departing
What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Lexington, The Illinois Derby
Where: Keeneland, Hawthorne
When: Saturday, April 20th

If you’re a proponent of the “horse for the course” angle, Winning Cause (2-for-2 on the Keeneland Main Track) is the way to go in Saturday’s 32nd Running of The Lexington Stakes. Later in the afternoon, the once-beaten Departing heads a field of 14 in the 56th Running of The Illinois Derby at Hawthorne. Let’s take a closer look at these important fixtures for three-year-olds below.

Of the 11 horses entered in The Lexington, only #1-Winning Cause (5-1) has raced over the Keeneland main oval. In fact, eight of the other ten competitors have never raced on polytrack. The two that have are #10-General Election (15-1) and #11-Pure Fun (7-2), the only filly in the race, and the only Grade 1 winner to boot. General Election won The John Battaglia at Turfway Park, but flopped in The Spiral three weeks later. Pure Fun captured the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet at Hollywood Park to close out her 2YO season. However, the Cushion Track at Hollywood Park plays more like dirt than polytrack, so that race may not project success at Keeneland. She needed her last, a decent third at Turfway in her 3YO bow, and should move forward on Saturday. However, taking a filly at 7-2 vs. males on an unfamiliar surface doesn’t exactly get my pulse racing. I’ll take a shot with #1-Winning Cause, who loves the Keeneland main track. Jockey Julien Leparoux got familiar with this well-bred colt last out with a fast-closing victory over entry-level allowance types. By Giant’s Causeway out of a Kingmambo mare, Winning Cause should handle the stretchout, and extend his Keeneland main-track mark to three-for-three. I’ll bet on Winning Cause to win and place at odds of 4-1 or better.

I’ve been a big fan of #13-Departing (7-2) since his stretchout win vs. entry-level allowance company at Fair Grounds on February 1st. I thought he was a legitimate threat to win The Risen Star at a price, but trainer Al Stall scratched him due his his wide post. He won The Texas Heritage at Sam Houston a week later as the odds-on choice. He finished a respectable third in The Louisiana Derby, and afterwards it was found that he had bled slightly in that race. Departing will be getting Lasix for the first time in The Illinois Derby, with regular rider Brian Hernandez retaining the mount. Departing blew out sharply on Sunday at Churchill Downs, earning the bullet (fastest of 43 at the distance) for his efforts. #5-Ground Transport (8-1) was beaten nearly two lengths by Departing in The Louisiana Derby, but with continued improvement, could find his way into the exotics. #8-Abraham (8-1) is another in a seemingly endless string of talented three-year-olds hailing from the Todd Pletcher barn. He’ll be a pace factor at the very least, and could take some catching. I’ll bet on Departing to win at odds of 2-1 or better.

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

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