Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

26 April 2012

All roads lead to Louisville

The prep season for the Derby is just about complete barring a monstrous effort by anything coming out of the Derby Trial.  Before going into full immersion on the major three year old stakes; the Derby Trial is more or less an early season long sprint/middle distance race for sophomore runners rather than a major stepping stone towards Triple Crown glory, it’s probably time to rename that race. 

The first of six big three-year-old races was the Florida Derby, featuring the Uncle Mo like flop of Union Rags.  Read what you will into his race-day performances of 2012, but on the surface he has yet to step up in a major way on paper with middling pace and speed figures.  If you are firmly entrenched in his camp all is not lost though, Matz is an all-pro conditioner and he is trying to get his runner to peak on the third start.  As for the winner Take Charge Indy, he was on the best part of the track on that day and capitalized.  Reveron, the runner-up was a rank outsider that chased throughout and held off a hard charging Union Rags, there evidence of a speed bias is apparent from this day as well.

A day later the Louisiana Derby was shook to it’s core by a 109-1 longshot that wired from post 12.  Mark Valeski was put on the bubble by not winning this race and he ran alright here.   He could be a solid value if he makes the final cut.  It should be noted that the Louisiana path to the Kentucky Derby has been a treacherous one since Grindstone won in 1996.

The Wood Memorial was a tight stretch run between Gemologist and Alpha where both accomplished what they needed to do going into the first Saturday in May.  Gemologist needed a win or a strong performance to move on and Alpha needed earnings to stay away from the brink.  Off the two Alpha looked like the the better performance.  From the DRF charts:
 “APLHA rubbed shoulders with CASUAL TRICK leaving the starting gate, took the inside route in the initial stages, was steadied off of another’s heels midway around the opening bend…”
The comments on Alpha continue on to mention that he went three wide for his stretch run over a track that favored the inside.  Gemologist faced Currency Swap in his 2012 debut, Currency Swap went on to finish in a separate zip code from the Illinois Derby winner in his next start.

 I’ll Have Another has had one of the greater form reversals seen in long time, after a distant effort in the Hopeful in the Saratoga mud he has put together two stakes wins off of said September layoff.  The field of 20 will test his mettle with a stronger early pace. Creative Cause had his form enhanced thanks to Bodemiester’s monster effort in the Arkansas Derby.

The Bluegrass came up a fast race on pace and speed figures in limited data at the distance.  From the looks of it though, there won’t be much of a change in this number for this boutique meet.  This race was the tale of two halves with Hansen winging it early in his usual fast early, slowing down late style and Dullahan making a dramatic sweeping run to the winner’s circle in the final 3/8 of a mile.  Dullahan is winless on the dirt, but he faced tough competition last fall on that surface.  He was fourth behind Hansen, Union Rags, and Creative Cause in the Juvenile.  He made a grand sweeping move in that race as well.  Workouts will tell the tale of how things will go with this one.

 Last but not least is the tour de force performance of Bodemiester, the likely Derby favorite.  So far his brief time on the track Bodemiester has showcased turbo-charged performances that bear a striking resemblance to Curlin’s early career trajectory.  All the intangibles of his recent victory have been mentioned repeatedly elsewhere and need no repeating here.  He will factor into the early pace in a big way with Hansen and the assorted hopeless speed bombers that will sign up.  He either will be Big Brown or Bellamy Road in this race; the likely low odds in a crowded field are no treat at all.

The average odds of the Derby winner from the past three years have been 28-1 with the low being 8-1 and the high being 50-1.  The prospectus of this year’s group looks less likely for tote board busting payouts in comparison to recent years.  If the history of the big race day returns have proved anything though, it is that even the likely results can produce a decent return on investment.