By Gene Kershner
Say it ain’t so. The 2012 Derby trail is about to get started with the $1 million Grade 3 Delta Jackpot in Louisiana this weekend. Getting into the gate in the Kentucky Derby is all about graded stakes earnings and the first big race subsequent to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile is in the South at the bullring known as Delta Downs on Saturday.
Of course, it’s so early in the season that only one horse of any winner since its inception in 2002 has actually made the gate in the Derby, that the chances are slim that the 2012 winner will actually show up in Louisville on the First Saturday in May. The 2008 winner ended up the Eclipse Award winner in the Sprint category in Big Drama, who challenged Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, so it’s possible that a star could be born in this year’s edition.
One thing to consider when looking at Derby preps is that the favorite rarely wins, and these are the types of races to look elsewhere for value and a horse ready to move forward in his training pattern and win a big race of this nature.
Let’s take a look at this year’s Jackpot’s talented field …
1 – Longview Drive (Hollendorfer, Rosario, 10-1) – An intriguing horse that’s won at the distance and has a three-race winning streak going. Recent Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer changes jockeys and goes with the talented Joel Rosario to try and make his mark in south Louisiana. I’m kind of digging this horse with an excellent pedigree (see A.P. Indy as grand sire). He’s in my mix for sure.
2- Seven Lively Sins (Stall, Leparoux, 9-2) – Looks like a sharp horse, but I’m staying away based on the Average Winning Distances (AWD) of his sire and dam sire. Looks to be more of a sprinter to me and will take a lot of money at the windows based on the connections and morning line odds. No thanks.
3- Tiz Moe (Calhoun, Theriot, 15-1) – I’m a big Tiznow fan, and the price may be right to throw a deuce on this horse, only because he can get the 9-furlongs without a problem. Got whacked pretty good by 5-My Adonis in the stretch last out, but these are young horses and we can see progression from poor performances. He shows an awesome workout on November 12, so don’t discount based on his last effort.
4 – Basmati (O’Neill, Nakatani, 8-1) – Finally broke his maiden in his sixth race, but his speed figures match up with the top contenders in here and top trainer Doug O’Neill not afraid to head east of the Mississippi to grab some graded earnings. Cautiously optimistic about this guy, but will probably lay off and play wait and see before investing any hard earned cash on this one.
5 – My Adonis (Breen, Trujillo, 4-1) – Hasn’t missed the exacta in five races and has a win over the bullring. That alone has this one in my mix. His bloodlines say that he can handle the route distance and winning over the track puts him in the forefront for his handicapper.
6 – Drill (Baffert, Garcia, 2-1) – He’s the odds-on favorite for the race. Running back in two weeks after a dismal tenth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. This is the one to try and beat if you’re looking to make a few bucks. Not sure he’s the bullring type, so I’m laying off him. Good chance he disappears with a poor performance here.
7 – Laurie’s Rocket (Stewart, Hernandez, 10-1) – I loved Bluegrass Cat in his day, but this colt looks more like a sprinter to me based on his previous races. His best speed figure that would even challenge his foes in this race was in his last race at 6 1/2-furlongs. We’ll be taking a pass on this one.
8 – Sabercat (Asmussen, Melancon, 8-1) – Tough not to like a Sabercat in Buffalo, and this one actually has a decent chance off his last two efforts. Asmussen is dangerous in these scenarios and he wouldn’t have this colt in here if he didn’t think he had a legitimate chance at bringing this one home. Considering.
9 – Dougs Buddy (Petrowski, Stokes, 20-1) - So he’s undefeated in four starts at Northlands Park in Edmonton. He sports a solid workout at Delta, but coming from Canada, he’s a complete unknown. Hard to wager any hard earned cash based on that alone. Not that I won’t be eating my tuque if he comes through.
10 – Jake Mo (Milligan, Simmigton, 15-1) – That’s one jockey/trainer combo I’ve never seen, so I’m skeptical and tossing even though he’s run well in sprints at Prairie Meadows. I’ve got certain angles I like to play, and this isn’t one of them.
Post Time Outlook: 1 – My Adonis; 2 – Sabercat; 3 – Longview Drive
Long shot possibility: Tiz Moe