We looked at the Wood Memorial in our last post. Let’s look at the Blue Grass, which is a very interesting race where we are going to take a shot with a price horse.
The one thing that jumps out in this race is the lack of pace, so with that as a backdrop, let’s go through the field.
1 – It’s Your Nickel (20-1) – If someone goes out to try to wire the field, I guess it could be him. But that is based on his first race at three. It does seem like the only way he can win this race.
2 – McCraken (7-5) – Nothing against McCraken the horse, who hasn’t done anything wrong and is undefeated in four starts, but do you want to take 7-5 on a horse that missed his last prep race and now comes into a race that has no pace for his deep closing running style? We don’t.
3 – J Boys Echo (4-1) – He ran a huge race in the Gotham last time, earning a 102 Beyer and beating a horse in Cloud Computing that is our pick to win the Wood. However, J Boys Echo will never receive a better trip that he did in that race. He sat back as three speeds went at it through fast fractions and circled up to win easily. He’ll be overbet off his big figure earned under ideal conditions (and is another that will be hurt by the lack of pace).
4 – Tapwrit (5-2) – He was handled by McCraken in the Davis but with that one out, Tapwrit dominated the Tampa Bay Derby, earning a 96 Beyer for his 4.5 length win. Yes, he can win back, but we’ve always been a touch skeptical of him. He’s had good trips in his races – last time he got a fast pace set by a distance-challenged State of Honor. We just think 5-2 is a bit short.
5 – Wild Shot (15-1) – Here’s our pick, and yes he’s a deserving longshot. But there is no pace in here as we’ve noted and Wild Shot is best-positioned to take advantage of that. He was on the pace in fast-paced routes last year, losses to Classic Empire in the Breeders Futurity and McCraken in the Kentucky Jockey Club. His first race at Tampa this year, the Sam Davis, saw him get caught very wide on both turns in his first start in a few months. Then in the Tampa Bay Derby, he again drew poorly and was taken back, which isn’t his best running style. I think Corey Lanerie, his new rider, just guns to the lead, and he might be good enough to upset at a big price.
6 – Irap (20-1) – This Doug O’Neill maiden takes blinkers off after a fourth place finish in the Sunland Derby. His best race was a second in the Lewis to Royal Mo, but both horses in there were aided by the slower pace and Royal Mo came back to bomb last month in the Rebel Stakes.
7 – Practical Joke (7-2) – No doubt this Chad Brown trainee will be ready to go after a solid return to the races in the Fountain of Youth last time at Gulfstream. He made a quick move on the turn after the fast pace but was run down by the impressive Gunnevera. The question with him is the distance, as he stretches out to 9 furlongs today. He’s lost ground in the stretch of his first two, two-turn races despite getting some pace to attack and he might be best as a late-running sprinter/miler. Still, he’s on our tickets.
The Pace – The pace is likely to be slow and we think that benefits Wild Shot the most.
The Play – We’ll bet Wild Shot to win today and play him in the exacta with McCraken, Tapwrit, and Practical Joke, though leaning on the Wild Shot/McCraken combination. J Boys Echo will be the main contender that we will oppose.