Lots of racing this weekend as the polar vortex tightens its grip on us middle westerners and easterners (whom am I forgetting?). The skin on my shins is as dry as a Cheerios box. But this! This is as deep as the abyss gets! St. Paddys day is less than a month away. So hang in there railbirds. And remember to keep those tongues off the rail.
Fountain of Youth
The Holy Bull was a boring race, and that's why I've been endlessly analyzing it. It's too boring, there has to be some kernel of knowledge lurking in it. So far this is what we know. Bluegrass Singer had some sort of shoe problem. Frosted doesn't like kickback. Upstart was flawless. Form cycles reveal little beyond the idea that everyone should improve off last effort. Pletcher brings in a sharp winner who might dazzle, but given Upstart's natural talent and experience, he'll need the shape of the race to play a big role -- but it could. Another X-factor is Javier Castellano jumps off Bluegrass Singer and onto the rail horse Juan and Bina. They're next to each other in the gate. Juan and Bina didnt want to rate last out and I think his tactics will change especially with the rail, and I expect him to move forward. He and Bluegrass Singer could slug it out and push those fractions harder, which could make it harder on Upstart.
$5 Trifecta Upstart-Itsaknockout,Frosted-Itsaknockout, Frosted, Juan and Bina, Bluegrass Singer
$10 Ex Itsaknockout-Upstart
$10 Ex Frosted-Upstart
The Risen Star
This looks like an exciting race. Lots of shape to it. You have some speedballs on the rail and some late acceleration sprinkled throughout the wider posts. This is the race where Pyro was full of fire, and I think we're going to see another closer rise to the occasion. Even with the possible scratch of Bach. Imperia will take a lot of money and it makes sense. This Darley horse has run over turf for most of his career and has done well over dirt. International Star is a NY bred owned by rhe Ramseys and trained by Maker. Also started as a turfer, but after winning the LeComte this son of Fusiachi has signaled he wants more. Finally there's War Story who ran a nice drill at Oaklawn last week. KD picks up the mount. I see these three battling at the wire.
$25 Exacta Imperia-War Story
$10 Trifecta Impaeria-International,War-International, War
$5 Exacta Imperia-War Story
Usually Baffert sends a speedball to Arkansas but not this year. Anerican Pharoh is likely to deign the oval with his presence in the Rebel, but today we have a slugfest with the aptly named Hillbilly Royalty and maybe Far Right is somehow semantically connected, but maybe that's a reach.
I'd love to see a surprise horse emerge. Maybe Bold Conquest, The Truth or Else or Kantune. But the three big players are the Hillbilly who's undefeated from the barn that brought us fan-favorite Caleb's Posse. I'd love for then to have another. The Truth or Else gets lasix and hasn't come within single digits in high class races. Bold Conquest is the other Asmussen horse who makes his 3YO debut and never really threatened in the Futurity at Keeneland. Kantune recently broke his maiden over this dirt defeating none other than Mr. Tickle.
And now for the big heavily-betted horses: Mr Z is a headcase, Far Right needs room for his late kick, Hillbilly Royalty will have to step up his game a little. Bayerd might like it if some rain hits the track.
$28 Exacta Far Right-Mr. Z
$10 Exacta Mr. Z-Far Right
$3 Tri Far Right-Mr. Z-Hillbilly Royalty, Bayerd ($6)
$2 Tri Mr. Z-Far Right-Bayerd, Hillbilly Royalty ($4)
$2 Exacta Far Right-Bold Conquest