The Road to the Roses is back for 2017, make sure to check back each week here at NorthlandsPark.com for a preview of the upcoming weekend!
On Monday, the first Kentucky Derby points race of 2017 was contested at Oaklawn Park. UNCONTESTED was just that as he got to the front and never took a look behind winning off by5 ½ lengths as the betting choice. He picked up 10 Derby points for that effort and could turn up next in the Southwest also at Oaklawn on February 20th.
Looking ahead to Saturday, the points train heads to Fair Grounds where 10-4-2-1 will be on the line in the LeComte. There doesn’t look to be a standout in the field of 12, with the morning line favorite being 9/2, the next pair at 5-1 and two more at 6-1. There are a number of horses who have tackled the distance in the past, and some who are stretching out for the first time. This could have the making of a well-paying prep race. Let’s dive in.
UNTRAPPED is the 9/2 choice for trainer Steve Asmussen. He hasn’t been seen since he broke his maiden in impressive fashion at Churchill Downs in November. That was sprinting, but he has trained well getting ready for his first route attempt, in his three year old debut. UNTRAPPED has found some trouble in both of his starts, and it appears as though he has plenty of talent. He was 2nd in his debut behind the Smart Jones winner UNCONTESTED.
GUEST SUITE has some stakes experience, finishing 3rd in the Street Sense at Churchill behind next out Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club winner McCracken. In his subsequent start, he took home an optional claimer over the same track. GUEST SUITE sat just off the leading group before snatching the lead at the head of the lane and drawing away. He has received good setups in his two wins, and could have a tactical advantage over the late runners in this one.
SAINT’S FAN is another horse stretching out off of a pair of sprint efforts and looks very well suited for the distance. He is unbeaten after those two starts, closing from the back of the pack impressively. He defeated a trio (2nd, 3rd and 4th) of next out winners when he scored in the Louisiana Juvenile. ‘FAN still looked green while racing down the stretch on the wrong lead, but once he straightened out he easily inhaled the leader and drew off to win by two. Trainer Dallas Stewart his at 29% with horses stretching out and generally has a contender or two come Derby time.
TOTALITY is interesting having improved in each of his three trips to the post. He won in his debut, and then was a good 2nd in the $300k Springboard Mile last time out. In that race, he sat near the rear of the field, bided his time and then got through on the inside to get up for 2nd. He may not have a big closing kick, but should be around for a piece. TOTALITY is bred well, being by a $300k stallion and having a full sister (Taxable) who was a winner at a mile and a graded stakes placed horse. She competed in the 2016 Kentucky Oaks, but was a little out gunned.
MARCO MISCHIEF looks like he could be a live longshot play at the 20-1 morning line offering. He closed well in his unveiling to get up for 2nd in a race that was rained off the turf at Gulfstream Park West. He then tried the local sod and got up just in time after his strong kick in the stretch. The trainer doesn’t start many, but hits at a solid 21% and is stout with horses going from turf to dirt, winning at 27%.
SHAREHOLDER VALUE and TIP TAP TAPIZAR are both very experienced, and forays into graded stakes company. They both appear to be similar middle of the packers, with SHAREHOLDER VALUE having a little more upside with his improvement without the blinkers.
RUNNING MATE has done little wrong so far in his career, kicking it off with a pair of romping wins before a beat last time out. He is another stretching out, but will be up against it with the possible pace scenario in this one. RUNNING MATE has worked well since his latest, with three straight bullets, but will have to show me he wants to go this far. PHAT MAN, TAKEOFF and PAT ON THE BACK appear they will want to be close to the pace as well.
While no one seems to be much better than the rest, let’s give the lean to SAINT’S FAN who looks to improve on the stretch out in ground. UNTRAPPED will have to overcome a layoff but still looks like a top contender. MARCO MISCHIEF and TOTALITY could pick up the pieces late. Let’s try to get a trifecta home.
#12 SAINT’S FAN – #5 UNTRAPPED – #6 MARCO MISCHIEF
$1 Trifecta – 5 , 12 with 5 , 6 , 12 with 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 8 , 12 – Cost: $16