There are three Derby prep races today: the Lewis at Santa Anita, Holy Bull at Gulfstream, and Withers at Aqueduct. We’ll look at the three over our next three posts, starting in California with the Lewis.
On paper, this is probably the “weakest” of the three races, but of course, nobody will be surprised if a horse jumps up onto Derby lists at about 5:45 EST tonight. Let’s take a look at the field.
#1 Ayacara (8-1) – This Keith Desormeaux trainee last ran on dirt in the Frontrunner behind Bolt d’Oro in September, running a non-threatening fourth, though he earned a competitive speed figure that day. His last two races were on synthetic and turf and he should get some pace to attack in this race. He’s an intriguing entrant.
#2 Pepe Tono (6-1) – This deep closer has benefited from some strong paces in his two starts and might get another here, but will need to take a big step forward.
#3 Dark Vader (10-1) – He broke his maiden going two-turns at Los Al in December and has been prepared for this spot by Peter Eurton. He’ll likely track the pace, but seems a little slow.
#4 Lombo (5-1) – Michael Pender sends out this stretch-out sprinter that should help ensure a strong pace. His sibling’s three wins are all sprinting, and that one is by noted stamina-influence Street Sense, though the dam was a turf miler. There are some other pace influences though, and that adds to the distance questions.
#5 Shivermetimbers (7-2) – We tried him last time as a logical alternative to McKinzie in the Sham and he did not run well at all, pressing a moderate pace and stopping. The comment does say “steadied into lane” but he was done already. His previous races are solid enough to win this race, but it’s hard to endorse a horse as one of the favorites off a very poor race last time with no excuse.
#6 Inscom (6-1) – His one dirt race was poor on paper, though he did have trouble and that was his September 7th debut. Since then, he’s turned into a solid turf horse for Simon Callaghan. His dam did win on dirt as well as turf, but the top sibling, Lochte, was a nine-time winner and earned $750,000 on the grass. One thing to note is that Inscom was 4-5 in his dirt debut, and while maybe that wasn’t the strongest field, he wouldn’t have been bet to 4-5 on debut unless he had shown some ability working on the main track.
#7 Peace (3-1) – Richard Mandella’s charge will be up close pressing the pace today and enters off a slow maiden win last time out. He did finish a good second to Shivermetimbers two-back but both horses came out of that race to run worse/slower in their subsequent starts.
#8 Regulate (8-1) – Here’s an interesting price play for Bob Baffert. After not firing on debut, he ran a solid race behind Peace two-back and then last time moved into a fast pace before fading late. That Baffert runs him back off that race has to be construed as a confident move in a race where the favorites might be a little suspect.
#9 Blame the Rider (15-1) – He could be part of the pace based on his sprint two-back but last time they took him back and he made one late run behind a very fast pace. He’ll have to improve substantially but he’ll be a big price.
Pace Thoughts – The pace should be solid enough here with Lombo the likely pace-setter but Peace and Shivermetimbers as well as Regulate will be up close pressing.
Overall Thoughts – The horse we’re most interested in betting is Ayacara, and will use him with Regulate as another price play, as well as Peace and Shivermetimbers in exactas and trifectas.