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Derby Trail Winds Through Tampa, Santa Anita and Golden Gate

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 2/11/2011 4:33:28 PM
  • Who: Thoroughbreds – Beamer, Tapizar, Comma to the Top
  • What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Sam F. Davis, The Robert B. Lewis, The El Camino Real Derby
  • Where: Tampa Bay Downs, Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields
  • When: Saturday, February 12th

Three major Kentucky Derby preps take place on Saturday. The West Coast contests don’t appear to offer much drama, as prohibitive favorites Tapizar (The Robert B. Lewis) and Comma to the Top (The El Camino Real Derby) will take some beating. Let’s focus instead on The Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs, where the chalk looks vulnerable.

Morning line favorite Brethren (5-2) will be trainer Todd Pletcher’s latest Derby hopeful to seek glory in this race. Pletcher horses have won three of the last five editions of the Sam F. Davis, and like Brethren, all were owned by WinStar Farm. Despite a history of dominance by the connections, I’m passing on Brethren. He’s running off a 2 ½-month layoff, tries two turns for the first time, and is making his local debut. The Tampa Bay Downs surface takes some getting used to…many top runners have failed to fire their best shot shipping in. Post 10 is no bargain, and neither is 5-2. Pass.

Second choice Monzon (3-1) turned in a lifetime-best performance last out, capturing The Count Fleet on Aqueduct’s inner dirt, and earning a field-best Beyer Speed Figure (90) in the process. Edgar Prado retains the mount, so you know the connections are serious. Like Brethren, Monzon makes his local bow, so the surface is a question mark. Also, that big figure jump makes me wonder if regression is in order.

Washington’s Rules (9-2), trained by Ken McPeek, is very highly regarded. He looked good breaking his maiden at Gulfstream Park last out off more than a 5-month layoff, and has trained superbly in the interim. However, he too will be trying two turns for the first time, and he has no experience over the local strip.

That brings us to my pick…Beamer (5-1). Beamer is trained by Hall of Famer Carl Nafzger, who won the Kentucky Derby twice, with Unbridled in 1990 and Street Sense in 2007. Beamer, a grandson of Unbridled, broke his maiden going two turns at Tampa Bay Downs in December, and ran third last out in the slop at Gulfstream Park, behind the highly-regarded Soldat. Beamer has trained sharply since that effort, and will be reunited with top young local rider Leandro Goncalves. Beamer’s Beyers are steadily rising (63, 77, 82)…another forward move could propel him into the winner’s circle.

Those are my horse racing betting tips for the weekend. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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