Calm Before The Storm

20 Apr

By Lucky Kalanges

I like the two weeks between the last Derby preps and the Derby. It gives us a little time to watch the replays of all the prep races and gather as much information as we can about the contenders leading up to Derby week.

I haven’t delved too deeply into all of the latest prep races, but I will say this, nobody has looked as impressive as Omaha Beach has in his last two races. The early move he made to hit the front at the half mile in the Arkansas Derby reminded me a little of Secretariat’s move around the first turn of the 1973 Preakness Stakes.

I’ll leave the replay here so you can see for yourself. He launches a three-wide bid around the first turn and secures the lead by the half, has Improbable breathing down his neck around the far turn and through the stretch, but continues to hold him off without much urging at all, just a couple left-handed taps in deep stretch to prevail by a length.

Improbable did nothing wrong and can certainly move forward off the effort, but with Omaha Beach holding wins over two of Bob Baffert’s three aces (Roadster being the third), he seems like a lock to be the favorite on Derby day barring any training setbacks. And while I am almost always trying to beat the favorite on Derby day, seeing Richard Mandella in the winner’s circle with Omaha Beach wouldn’t exactly break my heart.

In the Lexington Stakes, I was hoping for a better showing from local hero Anothertwistafate, who ran second at even money to 12/1 upset winner Owendale. The eight points he earned for second leaves him with 38, and tied for 22nd overall, which is squarely on the bubble as far as making the Derby field of 20. Trainer Blane Wright said they will wait and see if he qualifies before deciding on whether to enter the Derby or wait until the Preakness, for which he earned a free entry by winning the El Camino Real at Golden Gate.

With the free entry, I’d be inclined to rest up for the Preakness. If he couldn’t win the Lexington Stakes, I think the 20-horse Derby might be a bridge too far.

Speaking of bridges, I’m kind of excited for the stakes six-pack coming up next Saturday at Golden Gate, highlighted by the $250,000 San Francisco Mile (G3-T). I have to work the night shift next Saturday, but I am going to make an effort to stop by GGF and catch as many races as I can before I have to report for duty. With the turf course now open, I stand a much better chance at cashing some tickets as opposed to when they’re running exclusively on the Tapeta.

In addition to the Mile, they’ll be running the $100,000 California Derby, $75,000 California Oaks, $75,000 Golden Poppy (Turf), $75,000 Camilla Urso (Turf), and $75,000 Lost In The Fog Stakes on Saturday, the first day Gold Rush Weekend.

For those so inclined, $25 gets you into the “Golden Gate Get Down,” a live hip-hop and reggae concert headlined by The Grouch and Eligh. The concert area also features an assortment of Cocktails, Beers, and Food Trucks. A Golden Gate hat is included with the concert admission. If I didn’t have to work later in the day, I might take a shot at it if I were fortunate enough to cash a few tickets early in the card.

A pair of ‘hundred-granders’ – the Silky Sullivan and Campanile Stakes – headline the second day of Gold Rush Weekend on Sunday, April 28.

I’ll a

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