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3YO Lesser Lights Looking to Become Derby Contenders

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 2/27/2010 11:53:50 AM
  • Who: Thoroughbreds – Radiohead, Thomas Got Even, Kettle River, Nextdoorneighbor
  • What: Bet on Horse Racing – Gulfstream Park - Race #3, Santa Anita - The Sham
  • Where: Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita
  • When: Saturday, February 27th

Sometimes when you’re following horses on the Kentucky Derby trail you need to keep an eye out for late developers that are still competing in the allowance ranks. Race #3 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday is a perfect example, as it’s loaded with relatively unknown Derby hopefuls. The Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday also features several competitors that are currently under the Derby radar, but may not be at day’s end. Let’s look at these races, and see if we can uncover a juicy futures bet or two.

In Saturday’s 3rd Race at Gulfstream, the speedy and undefeated General Maximus (2-for-2 sprinting) will likely be favored in this one-turn mile event. He owns the field’s top Beyer Speed Figures (93, 91) and should fire to the lead from his rail post. Homeboykris also is quick, but will probably assume the role of stalker. Radiohead is an interesting newcomer. He’s a Group 2 winner at Ascot, and also hit the board in a pair of Group 1 events in Great Britain before a troubled 7th-place finish in The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile closed out his 2YO campaign. He’s been training swiftly for his 3YO debut under the care of Rick Dutrow, but has yet to race on dirt. His pedigree suggests he’ll handle the new surface.

Most interesting to me is Thomas Got Even, who makes his first start of the year for trainer Nick Zito. Thomas Got Even demolished a very tough group of maidens last September at Belmont Park. Runner-up Drover won his next start and 3rd-place finisher Doubles Partner won a turf allowance event at Gulfstream on Thursday, beating the highly-regarded Lentenor in the process. You’ll get a nice price on Thomas Got Even, because his Beyer Figure was a modest 67. I’ll bet Thomas Got Even to win at odds of 5-1 or better, and will be looking for a Kentucky Derby futures price on him in the vicinity of 100-1. He’s bred to go long.

In The Sham, The Program (morning line 7-2), Setsuko (3-1) and Nextdoorneighbor (5-2) will vie for favoritism. The Program is tractable, and his jockey Martin Garcia is very confident in his mount’s chances. Setsuko has never been off the board in five 2-turn starts. However, I’m leaning toward Nextdoorneighbor, who powered home to break his maiden by four last out. He obviously relished the stretchout. That bullet 6-furlong work in 1:10 3/5 on February 15th signals another move forward. I’ll bet Nextdoorneighbor to win at odds of 2-1 or better, and will look for a futures price of 75-1 or better.

When you bet on horse racing, in this case Kentucky Derby futures, you’re projecting how a horse will handle 1 ¼ miles for the first time. Both of the horses I’ve identified above appear capable of negotiating that distance. Make sure, however, that you get good value on your futures wagers, because any number of factors can derail your horse’s chances, or even him knock him out of the race. Best of luck with this weekend’s horse racing action, and happy gambling!

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