Thursday’s P-Town Preview

27 Jun

After going a paltry 1 for 7 during last Thursday’s seminar with the only win coming in the mule race, I’ll be looking to rebound this Thursday, when I again take the stage with Dennis Miller and track announcer Chris Griffin for the pre-race handicapping seminar.
I did have a couple second choices run first at decent prices, so there’s that. Notably, Have Some Pride ($10.00) in the third, and Bombay All Day ($11.60) in the fifth. Although they were my second choices, and thus don’t really count as winners, they had the distinction of being the only double-digit prices on the entire card.
Let’s see if we can get some top choices home this week.

Race 1 – Mules, 300 Yards
Without the star Read My Lips in this heat, Thursday’s lid-lifter might be more wide open than usual.

3 –CHASE THE MONEY (2/1) is probably the quickest from the gate here and I’ll bank that this 10-year-old is ready off the layoff.

4 – IMAGE OF TOMAHAWK (6/1) has been chasing Read My Lips so far this meet and figures to make an impression without his nemesis in here.

5 – BAR JF EASY MONEY (5/2) encountered big trouble while making his late run in his first start of the year on opening day. I’ll hope his rally is late again at a short price.

Race 2 – Thoroughbreds, $2.5k Claiming, 1 mile and 70 yards

4 – WARRENS GOLDNUGGET (8/5) has a pace advantage in this heat being one of the few who wants to race on or near the lead, over a surface that has been playing well for speed types at the mile and 70 distance. 8-year-old mare takes the biggest class drop in the field, and McLean hits at 24% on the double-drop.

6 – KATIE LEE (4/1) sinks to bottom level claimers and makes her dirt debut. Speed figures suggest she’ll be competitive in here. If this four-year-old filly has something left, she needs to show it here.

3 – ESPERANZA’S MOBILE (5/2) arrives 3rd off a layoff, also dropping from 3,200 to 2,500. Ran second over this track and at this level last year.

Race 3 – Thoroughbreds, Claiming $6,250, 5 furlongs

3 – MANY LIGHTS (2/1) owns a win over this oval and is five for 10 at the five-furlong distance. Orozco up.

5 – XERNEAS (4/1) steps up off the claim by Marcia Stortz and figures to challenge my top choice for the lead. J.J. Hernandez in the saddle.

1 – POWER OF NINE (9/5) is hard to ignore based on speed figures alone, but has unenviable task of having to carve out a trip from the rail and potentially circle the field. Granted, the field is short, but I’ll take my chances standing against her.

Race 4 – Thoroughbreds, $10K Claiming, 1 mile and 70 yards

3 – CHAPTER TEN (2/1) just seems to have too many positives to ignore, starting with the drop in class from the $25K ranks, which nets trainer William Delia a 24% strike rate. Figures to sit just off the pace and pounce, and has won using that style before.

4 – TOP TIZZY (7/2) could be the speed of the field here, but should get heat from his immediate outside. Ran a strong race over this track against better last year.

5 – MISSIONELLE (3/1) also figures to be prominently placed early. Owns a win and third place finish over this oval. Trainer hits at 29% with all-weather to dirt runners.

Race 5 – Thoroughbreds, $5K Claiming, 5 ½ furlongs

6 – HONEYMOON’S OVER (7/2) gets the outside post and class drop, has enough early speed to be a factor. Josephson gets horses home at 20% in their first starts with him. New face is a big threat if he likes the track. Solid workout at GGF.

3 – HARPER’S GEM (6/1) has cleared the field at this level in his last two at Golden Gate. Owns a win, 2nd and 3rd over dirt in five tries. Might be able to take them all the way if my top choice fails to fire. Low profile connections ensure a decent price.

2 – OMACHE KID (9/5) is consistently in the money, but seldom get the top prize, which is why I’ll take a stand against him for the win.

Race 6 – Thoroughbreds, $10K Claiming, 1 mile and 70 yards

2 – ONE EYED ROBIN (4/1) switches to the Steiner barn which is striking at 34% after a claim. There is absolutely no speed in here, so this one could get a ground saving trip and have enough left to out finish the field. Top jock Hernandez is up.

1 – LIBERTY PARK (2/1) gets needed class relief after running on the dirt almost exclusively at Santa Anita. Could have a speed figure edge over this field, but has to overcome the rail, which has not been kind thus far. Martin getting winners home at a 32% clip at first asking.

6 – DOMENICO (3/1) won at first asking around two turns, which is impressive. Toss out the turf effort, and he just has the layoff to overcome. Antongeorgi takes the call for Sherman barn.

Race 7 – Thoroughbreds, $12.5k Maiden Claiming, 6 furlongs

9 CALIFORNIA COMET (3/1) has speed and dirt experience in SoCal. Moves to the Wong barn and gets instant class relief. Cap and gown time for this filly.

8 SURE MAGIC (6/1) enters off a 49-day break, but has decent speed figures over the Tapeta at Golden Gate. Slow breaks and lack of speed are a concern, but gets outside post from which to make her one-run. Should get some pace to chase here.

3 BOUNTY OF GOLD (6/1) has been clunking it up on the turf lately, but toss those efforts and she has shown decent early speed, which is preferable on the dirt surface. Rider upgrade give her some upside and what should be a decent price.

Pre-Seminar Handicapping for Thursday

19 Jun

By Lucky Kalanges

Tomorrow I’ll have the privilege of joining Pleasanton Racing Publicist Dennis Miller and race-caller Chris Griffin in front of the Stella Artois Grandstand to talk about Thursday’s seven-race card. As preparation for that conversation, here’s my thoughts on each race heading into tomorrow’s program.

Race 1 – Mules, 3-years-old and upward, 350 yards

Since he’s won the opening race of the Pleasanton meeting two years in a row now, I’m not going to bet against Read My Lips (7/5), who’s won four of his last six races and is unbeaten in his last five over this track. I’ll just sit back and cheer him on.

Those unwilling to sit this one out, might consider the youngest mule in the race, the seven-year-old After Midnight (7/2), who could turn the tables on the top choice with a cleaner break.

Race 2 – Thoroughbreds, $20K Maiden Claiming, 5 furlongs

#3 Cartellate (9/2) is one of four first time starters in a five-horse field, who has shown slightly faster workouts than his stablemate, #2 Deepingreen (7/2), to his immediate inside. Progeny of Goldencents are winning first out at an 18% clip. Steve Specht wins at 12% with first-timers, which is slightly better than Jonathan Wong (10%) who saddles the morning line favorite here. I’ll give him a slight nod in a race where there are more questions than answers.

#5 Kenzlee’s Gov (8/1) failed to make much of an impression against Maiden Special Weight company at Santa Anita in his debut. Now he drops into a Maiden Claiming event, often considered the biggest class drop in racing, gets Lasix and could make more of an impression than his morning line suggests. Low profile connections ensure a square price in a heat where none of his rivals have raced.

#4 Drippin Sauce (8/5) could take the most action for the red-hot Jonathan Wong barn, which won three races in five starts over opening weekend at Pleasanton. Top notch connections will make him tough to support at low odds.

Race 3 – Thoroughbreds, $8K Claiming, 6 furlongs

#3 Klay’s Turn (5/2) is very hard to see past, given his proven dirt speed and Jonathan Wong’s 28% strike rate after a claim.  Even with the step up in class, there’s very little chance you’ll get 5/2 on this guy.

#4 Have Some Pride (4/1) – Gets needed class relief off a solid effort off the bench. Sports a win and two seconds in six starts over dirt. Could make his presence felt in the lane if he can move forward off his last effort.

#1 Bold Roman (3/1) – Might need the race off a 55-day break. Makes his dirt debut here, but his consistency and 3 for 4 lifetime record are hard to ignore.

Race 4 – Thoroughbreds, $20K Maiden Claiming, 5 1/2 furlongs

#5 Roman Rush (7/2) drops back in for a tag and returns to sprinting where he’s recorded among the best Brisnet Speed Figures in the field. With early speed to his inside and outside, the Blaine Wright trainee would be wise to try a stalk and finish approach. A return to his last two efforts at this distance could put him in the winner’s circle.

#6 Whatsittoya (2/1) appears to be the fastest out of the gate on paper and will try to clear this field early and draw off for the Ari Herbertson barn. Slight drop in class from $25K maiden claimers won’t hurt.

#1 Lucky B Mine (5/1) drops from Maiden Specials after flashing early speed and fading in his first two races. Jock must gun for the lead from the rail, and he’s a threat if he can shake loose. But the presence of other front-running speed horses to his outside is a cause for concern.

Race 5 – Thoroughbreds, $5K Claiming, 5 1/2 furlongs

#9 Powerful Angrified (7/2) drops to lowest level yet and is among only a few horses who have shown any early speed in this heat. Love the quick 11-day turnaround for the Ed Moger barn.

#8 Bombay All Day (9/2) lacks early speed but drops in class and has been a model of consistency with five in-the-money finishes in seven starts. Gets regular pilot.

#5 Booze Cruise (20/1) clearly didn’t enjoy his time in the desert, but is reunited with trainer Trujillo, who has coaxed some of his best efforts in the Bay Area. His two most recent workouts at Golden Gate are interesting, as is the time off in May after the blowout work on April 27. 106-day layoff is a big question mark, but there’s no world beaters in here and without a ton of pace, he might not be too far back early. Not the worst longshot stab to blow up the Trifecta.

#4 Turnaround (4/1) has posted back to back decent efforts against slightly cheaper. He’ll look to take them wire-to-wire and could get bold if left alone on the lead.

Race 6 – Thoroughbreds, $8K Claiming, 6 furlongs 

#7 Startender (8/1) has the speed to wire this field off an impressive victory in the maiden claiming ranks. Alvarado and McCanna have teamed up to win 5 of their last 12 starts together. Offers value at even half his morning line.

#4 Mr. Diplomat (5/2) drops to his lowest level yet for Blaine Wright barn, and looks like the horse to beat off his form earlier this spring at Golden Gate.

#4 Logan’s Catch (4/1) is two for four lifetime for top Bay Area connections who are clicking at 25%.

Race 7 – Thoroughbreds, Allowance N2X $40K or Less, 6 furlongs

#2 Royal Bar (6/1) has the speed to clear the field and take them the distance for Amescua, who removes the hood and strikes at 27% with that move. Sports a win on dirt and at the distance.

#6 Consensus (9/5) has been knocking at the door for the Blaine Wright barn with a win and six seconds in 13 starts. Strictly the one to beat with J.J. Hernandez up, but perennial bridesmaid won’t offer much value.

#9 That’s Bind Babe (3/1) gets a perfect outside post to make his one run from. A repeat of his last effort hits hard in here, but he’s facing winner’s now.

$0.50 Pick 5 tickets
3 with 1, 5, 6 with 4, 5, 8, 9 with 4, 7 with 2, 6, 9 for $36
3, 4 with 5, 6 with ALL with 7 with 2 for $18

$0.50 Pick 4 tickets
1, 5, 6 with ALL with 7 with 2 for $13.50
5, 6 with 4, 5, 8, 9 with 4, 7 with 2, 6, 9 for $24

Best Win Bets at a Price
Race 6 – Startender (8/1)
Race 7 – Royal Bar (6/1)

 

Most Likely Winner
Race 3 – Klay’s Turn (5/2)

 

 

35 Years and 3,000 Miles Between

19 Jun

By Lucky Kalanges

While my first experience with horse racing and working a Fair didn’t intersect exactly at the same time, it happened at virtually the same place – a strip mall anchored by a Grand Union Supermarket and the Champlain Valley Fairgrounds and Grandstand almost directly behind it.

The horse racing wasn’t live, it was a pre-recorded half-hour TV show sponsored by the Grand Union, a prevalent supermarket chain in upstate New York and New England of the 1970s and 80s. Each purchase at the store earned you a ticket with a number of a horse in six races, if I remember correctly. You got the ticket, went home, peeled off the tabs to see your numbers and watched the races to see if you won a cash prize.

Fair to Fair

Of course, the races were old and pre-recorded, and very few people I knew ever won anything more than a couple bucks. But it was fun just thinking you had a chance.

Every now and then my horse would open up a huge lead for a big prize like $100, and for a minute I’d think I was going to win big. Then it would spit the bit and lose by 20 lengths, but the damage was done. The money was almost in my hands, and surely my steed would hold on, or the rider wouldn’t fall off, next time.

I was hooked, so it was back to the GU for more Bubblicious or Big League Chew.

I wanted those tickets because with every horse, I had a chance to win. They got so used to seeing me at the Grand Union buying bubble gum and candy bars that the store manager once handed me a fat stack of tickets.

Here kid, knock yourself out.

Eventually, the promotion grew stale and faded into oblivion, but the Champlain Valley Fair, held from late August through Labor Day in Essex Junction, Vermont, always marked the end of summer, with school beginning the Tuesday after closing day.

The Fair days were summer decadence in its final throes. The Fair nights, like clockwork, brought with them an ominous chill accompanied by the dreaded ‘back to school’ signs in the town store fronts. The grown ups were rubbing it in, at least that’s how it felt to my teenage self.

As I grew older, the Fair meant different things to me, and during my high school years, it was an opportunity to make some quick cash heading into the school year. I sold Cokes and Lemonade in the Grandstand for minimum wage ($3.15 an hour at the time), plus a nickel commission and a quarter case bonus.

The concerts, like Jerry Reed and Crystal Gayle, were fun because you also got to watch the show, but the big money maker was always the tractor pull on Labor Day. And if it was a hot day, you could empty your case before even getting two rows up the Grandstand.

Just like the Grand Union races, I was hooked.

I’d run back downstairs for refills and run right back up as quickly as I could. On a good day with tips, I could clear three figures, which felt like a small fortune to a teenager with no expenses in the mid-80s.

Now, 35 years and 3,022 miles later, I’m back at it, running up and down the Grandstand at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, CA. This time, there’s no commission to be earned, but the hustle is just as real.

You might see me in the winner’s circle calling out the winners of our Win, Place and Show contest, on the track dropping the starter’s flag for a Hippity Hop race, or in the infield, announcing the contestants for our $10,000 putting challenge.

You might see me in the Sky Lounge or Trackside Terrace talking to guests. You might spot me mopping up a spill near the paddock bar, emptying a garbage can or changing a TV channel. Almost every minute or so, something needs to be done.

And once again, with the urgency and energy only a Fair can bring, I’m hooked.

So if you see this half-centenarian kid in the Grandstand, stop and say hello.

Fair to Fair 2 Photo

Know When to Fold ‘Em

8 Jun

By Lucky Kalanges

A few factors have led me to decide to pass on this year’s Belmont Stakes card, despite the fact it resembles a Spring Breeders’ Cup.

  1. My results over the Triple Crown season are a clear indication I cannot pick my nose right now.
  2. The three-week break between the Preakness and Belmont means that it doesn’t fall a day after payday.
  3. With the Pleasanton Racing meeting right around the corner, I need to keep some of my power dry to get through the summer.

Every horse player needs to make a periodic self-assessment, and adjust his or her play based what the data says. And right now it’s saying read it and weep.

For me, this means drastically reducing my play until I can prove to myself that I can have a profitable day or two. Resisting the urge to bet just because it’s a big day is not easy. These days are among the best to play if you are seeing things clearly. There’s more tourist money in the pools and the computer bettors are often less efficient on days when there’s a big collection of stakes races with a large fields of real contenders, like the Breeders’ Cup.

If I was going to play the Belmont Stakes, I’d take a close look at Tax (15/1). I think his clunker over the slop in the Kentucky Derby might be an aberration for a horse who’s finished no worse than third over a fast track. He should lay close to the pace and I think this son of Awesome Again has as good as shot as any to carry his speed the distance. I think he should be the third betting choice in the race, and his 15/1 morning-line might be an indication that he’ll be overlooked.


Live Racing Returns to Pleasanton with Great Deals on Opening Weekend

There’s plenty of reasons to be excited about the return of live racing to the historic one-mile oval at Pleasanton next Friday, June 14.

For one, admission to the Alameda County Fair will be FREE from 11am to 3pm on Opening Day. If you have family in tow, this is one of the best days to check out the Fair and catch the opening day card free-of-charge.

Next is the popular Brew Fest which takes place Saturday, June 15 in the Stella Artois Grandstand. You can bet the horses while sampling all the craft beer you can take for just $40, which includes Fair Admission if you purchase tickets in advance.

Click here to purchase tickets to the Beer Fest or the Beer Fest, Cocktail Fest and Wine Fest trio for just $75 total.

Finally, if you’re a Dad and missed out on opening day, or want to take in two days of live racing free-of-charge, come on down on Sunday, June 16, when all Dads get into the Fair FREE on Father’s Day until 5pm.

Keep in mind, the betting action at Pleasanton can be as profitable as anywhere. Last year’s Pick 5 averaged a robust payout of $3,925, and the Late Pick 4 returned an average of $720. Both can be played for a 50-cent minimum.

There’s money to be made at the home track if you can find the right horses.

Preakness Postmortem

21 May

By Lucky Kalanges

While my wallet didn’t appreciate War of Will’s rail-skimming ride to Preakness glory, it was a more than satisfying outcome given what had unfolded two weeks ago in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

This time, given a fair chance to fire his best shot, War of Will came through with a winning performance under a patient ride from Tyler Gaffalione. And it was great to see a guy as classy and well-spoken as trainer Mark Casse accept the Woodlawn Vase in the post-race ceremony. It’s probably too much to ask for all three horses to come back in three weeks, but a Belmont with War of Will and either Maximum Security or Country House should command at least a little of the sporting public’s attention on June 8.

It seems unlikely Maximum Security will show up, given his connections have already indicated they are pointing to the nine-furlong Haskell Invitational at Monmouth. But what’s not to like about a rubber-match between the official Derby and Preakness winner in the Belmont?

Nada.

War of Will’s Preakness victory also validates the decision to disqualify Maximum Security in the Kentucky Derby.  War of Will was clearly loaded and ready to launch a bid for the lead when he was fouled, and denied any chance to pass when Maximum Security drifted out. If he had actually passed Maximum Security, could he have finished the drive for the win? We will never know, but he clearly could have cashed a check for his owners with a fifth place finish or better.

Looking back my Preakness betting, I can’t complain at all about the effort I got from my win bet and exotics key, Owendale, who was forced seven-wide into the stretch still came running to miss second by a nose to Everfast. Speaking of Everfast, if we were in court, an opposing counselor who had done his homework might ask for the record to be read back to me. In this case, what I had written about Everfast two days before the Preakness:

10 EVERFAST (50/1) – Seldom fast is more like it, but ever ambitiously placed. Connections have bitten off more than this guy can chew again. Toss.

My apologies to trainer Dale Romans, as he clearly knows more than I do about placing horses. Had I not foolishly left War of Will off all of my tickets, Everfast would have taken this billboard material and pinned it to my forehead.

The only thing I was right about was dismissing post-time favorite Improbable, and only using him in defensive positions in second and third. He reared in the gate before the start, settled in sixth early and never came running late. He might be a miler.

Unfortunately, in this game, there’s no glory in tossing out the favorite if you can’t find the winner. Just more tuition due to OTBU.

On to the Belmont!

 

It’s Preakness Picks Time!

18 May

By Lucky Kalanges

Without the Kentucky Derby winner or any of its top four finishers, for that matter, this year’s edition of the Preakness Stakes seems to be a more challenging handicapping puzzle than usual. That might make it a good betting race if you happen to land on the right horse or combination of horses.

In this year’s running, I am going to stick my neck out a bit and go with the Lexington Stakes winner, Owendale (10/1) . The last live check of the odds I saw, he was 11/1 and I think that is great value for a horse coming off a smashing win. Also, with an abundance of front-running or pressing speed in here, this race seems to set up even better for him than the Lexington did. Granted, the competition is steeper, but I am thinking if the pace is quicker he’ll be coming with a late run down the lane. The track configuration from Keeneland to Pimlico is similar, and he comes in with a bullet work.

Only reservation is he’s a deep closer and there are times they just don’t fire, whereas speed horses usually give you a run at least to the far turn.

For the minor awards, I’m looking at speed at a price who can hold for second and I think a trio of horses fit the bill here.

12 Anothertwistafate (6/1) Has drifted up to double digit odds and I like the price for a horse who looks like he could be the best stayer of the speed types. Was compromised a bit with a boxed-in trip in the Lexington, but came running after he got free to chase home Owendale. I think he stalks again here, the question is whether Jose Ortiz can tuck behind the early speed and save some ground.

3 Warriors Charge (12/1) Brad Cox’s other entry has blossomed into a back-to-back winner after employing front-running tactics, which he’ll likely try here. He’ll get tested by local hero Alwaysmining, who is taking action at 7/2 as I type this, and I’ll take the speed at a price, thank you very much.

9 Bodexpress (20/1) Maiden will be boxcars for that reason, but stayed in contention well into the far turn despite a wide trip in the Derby. Probably presses the speed here and looks to get a jump on the closers down the lane.

The closer I’m looking at to pump up the Trifecta is 11 Laughing Fox (20/1), who seems to be rounding into form after chasing Omaha Beach in his prior two starts. He’s won three of five this year and got a confidence-building win at Oaklawn.

If 3 Improbable (5/2) or 1 War of Will (4/1) win this race, I will accept defeat. With three seconds in three starts thus far this year, I see no reason not to take a stand against the likely Preakness favorite from Bob Baffert bar. If you like the latter, you’ll probably get closer to 7/1, which is a decent price. But with the rail draw, I think Tyler Gaffalione has no choice but to gun for the lead out of the gate, which I think compromises his chances off a huge effort just two weeks ago in the Derby.

Lastly, 2 Bourbon War (12/1) is getting some steam and he’ll be far shorter than his morning-line come post time. I’ll use him defensively, but will side with closers at a better price. He had no shot chasing Maximum Security in the Florida Derby and almost caught Code of Honor for third in that one. With an expected better pace setup, I get why his backers like him today. I’ll use him defensively, but will side with closers at a better price for the win.

This is how I’ll play a $100 bankroll:

$30 Win and $22 Place on 5 Owendale for $52

$2 Trifecta ($24 total): 5 Owendale with
3 Warrior’s Charge, 9 Bodexpress, 12 Anothertwistafate wtih
#2 Bourbon War, 4 Improbable, 8 Signalman, 11 Laughing Fox

$2 Trifecta: ($12 total): 5 Owendale with
2 Bourbon War, 4 Improbable, 11 Laughing Fox with
3 Warrior’s Charge, 9 Bodexpress, 12 Anothertwistafate

$2 Trifecta ($12 total): 2 Bourbon War, 12 Anothertwistafate with
5 Owendale with
3 Warrior’s Charge, 9 Bodexpress, 11 Laughing Fox, 12 Anothertwistafate

Don’t forget we’ll be giving away a FREE Preakness t-shirt at the OTB today. Be sure to stop by and say hello. I’ll be there just before the Preakness.

Best of luck everybody.

 

Preakness First Pass

16 May

By Lucky Kalanges

With the official draw completed, here’s a quick looked at the Preakness Stakes contenders from the rail out:

1 WAR OF WILL (4/1) – Draws the rail again after working out a decent trip from that notoriously tough spot in the Derby, only to be taken out on the far turn by Maximum Security. Battled honorably until the final sixteenth, but failed to finish and faded to eighth. Either a glass half-full or empty depending on how you look at his last two out-of-the-money efforts. Should be fit coming back in two weeks, and will be a threat if he can work out a trip. Must gun it from the rail to establish position early, and can’t get too excited about him from a value standpoint, as the expected second choice.

2 BOURBON WAR (12/1) – Comes in off a layoff after finishing a no-chance 4th behind Maximum Security who crawled on the lead in the Florida Derby. He’s a dead closer so a lot will depend on how fast they go up front, but the pace does figure to be a bit quicker than it was at Gulfstream. Only finished 3/4 a length behind Code of Honor in last heat. Exotics threat.

3 WARRIOR’S CHARGE (12/1) – Ships in for the Brad Cox barn off wire-to-wire maiden and optional claiming victories by six or more lengths. Figures to gun for the lead here. Pace factor and a threat if he can clear, which looks like a much tougher assignment today with ALWAYS MINING and BODEXPRESS drawn to his outside. Florent Geroux opts for stablemate Owendale.

4 IMPROBABLE (5/2) – Three wins in six starts, but is still looking for his first victory as a three-year-old. Figures to have a better shot this time with a smaller field and a fast track. However, as the lone Baffert entry and morning-line favorite, he doesn’t figure to offer much value and is clearly beatable for the win.

5 OWENDALE (10/1) – Stablemate of the #3 horse, comes in off an impressive victory over Antohertwistafate in the Lexington, a race in which he made a sweeping move around the far turn. 2nd off a layoff, figures to sit and finish. Last speed figure fits with this bunch and could get the trip. Win contender and a key exotics player at 8/1 or better.

6 MARKET KING (30/1) – Maiden winner with eight starts. Cheap speed from the Lukas barn looks overmatched here. Toss.

7 ALWAYSMINING (8/1) – Local hero has ripped off six straight wins by open lengths at Laurel and is well-deserving of this shot. Speed figures fit with this group and gets a great draw in the middle of the field. Will take them as far as he can.

8 SIGNALMAN (30/1) – Improving figures, 3rd off a layoff for the McPeek barn, this mid-pack type has had quick paces to chase in his last two and managed only to grab third in the Blue Grass last out. He’s very experienced in fields of 13 or more, and has four solid works in tow. Should offer some value in lower half of exotics if he’s forgotten at 30/1.

9 BODEXPRESS (20/1) – Still a maiden, but throw out his Derby effort from a hopeless post and he split Maximum Security and Code of Honor in the Florida Derby. All those two did was cross the wire first and third in America’s biggest race. Should be putting the heat on the pacesetters and will try to get first run on the closers turning for home. Offers value in the exotics and can’t completely eliminate him for the win. Velazquez up is a plus.

10 EVERFAST (50/1) – Seldom fast is more like it, but ever ambitiously placed. Connections have bitten off more than this guy can chew again. Toss.

11 LAUGHING FOX (20/1) – Don’t laugh, prior to his last win he finished 4th behind would-be Derby favorite Omaha Beach, today’s likely favorite, and actual Derby winner, Country House, in the Arkansas Derby. This dead-closer fits from a class standpoint if he can get a lively pace to chase and a decent trip. Must use in the bottom half of the exotics.

12 ANOTHERTWISTAFATE (6/1) – Hard not to like this hard-knocking colt from the Bay Area who has managed five exacta finishes in six lifetime starts. Got stuck in a bit of traffic stalking the pace in the Lexington Stakes, which allowed Owendale to get the jump on him. He should be involved early and with the outside draw, he should manage to stay out of trouble. Gets Jose Ortiz this time. Still needs to prove he can win outside of Golden Gate, but offers value as the third choice. Win contender and exotics key for me.

13 WIN WIN WIN (15/1) – Deep closer with local connections can pick up the pieces late with the right trip. Wide draw shouldn’t hurt him. Finished behind the local hero Alwaysmining when he was racing at Laurel. Really had no shot in the Derby with the wet track. Will consider in the lower half of the exotics, third and fourth.

That’s my first impressions of the field. I’ll be back Friday night with my picks for the 144th Preakness.