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Potential Kentucky Derby field trail winds through Tampa Bay and Golden Gate

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 4/26/2012 10:31:08 AM

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Racebook betting: contemplating the potential Kentucky Derby field

  • WHO: Thoroughbreds Atomic Rain, Chocolate Candy
  • WHAT: The Sam F. Davis Stakes, The El Camino Real Derby
  • WHERE: Tampa Bay Downs, Golden Gate Fields
  • WHEN: Saturday, February 14

The name of the game for many of the lesser lights on the Kentucky Derby trail is “graded earnings”. With the Kentucky Derby field limited to 20 runners, graded earnings determine who gets in. Many of last year’s top two-year-olds got the “graded earnings” problem out of the way, so their connections don’t have to push them too hard early in their 3YO campaigns. They can point to the first Saturday in May with a relatively fresh horse. Most of the “second tier” 3YOs don’t have that luxury, and the Kentucky Derby field prep races become make-or-break propositions. That fact presents betting opportunities for the astute handicapper.

The connections of Atomic Rain have gone all out to get him the graded earnings he needs in The Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. The Tampa Bay Downs surface can be tough for horses to adjust to, so trainer Kelly Breen brought Atomic Rain here 10 days before the race to get him fully acclimated, and breezed him four furlongs on Feb. 8. They’re also adding blinkers to the colt’s equipment to ensure that he keeps his mind on business. Look for a big effort from #5-Atomic Rain.

He’ll face stiff opposition from #7-Free Country, who defeated Atomic Rain by a neck in an entry-level allowance event at Gulfstream last month. There’s also a pair of undefeated local stakes winners, #9-Musket Man and #11-Top Seed, to deal with. However, both are trying two-turns for the first time, and their outside posts may be a hindrance. I’ll bet on #5-Atomic Rain to win at odds of 5-2 or better.

In the El Camino Real Derby (G3) at Golden Gate Fields, it appears that multiple-stakes-winner Chocolate Candy has his field over a barrel. He has already defeated three of the top contenders in this race (#3-Axel Foley in their last two encounters, #4-Massone in a maiden event last October, and #5-Merus Miami last out), and should love the extra sixteenth of a mile he gets in this 1 1/8th-mile event.

Note his pair of stakes victories came in non-graded races, so he needs a win here to cement his Kentucky Derby field eligibility. This horse appears to thrive on work, as he hasn’t had a break in training since his career debut last May. Also note that he worked just seven days after his last outing, and had the fastest work of the day in three subsequent breezes. When you bet on horse racing, you don’t often find a much more imposing favorite than this guy. I’ll bet Chocolate Candy to win at odds of 4-5 or better.

Good luck this weekend as you follow the action on the Triple Crown trail and potential Kentucky Derby field.

Pete Mitchell has been handicapping horses since his teenage years. He has been a professional horse player for many years, and came to’s attention through multiple referrals from industry insiders/sportsbook owners. Pete is revered for his horse handicapping opinion and industry experts acknowledge his impressive career winning record. Thoughts or questions?



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