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Triple Crown hopefuls back in action Saturday

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 4/26/2012 10:27:52 AM
Kentucky Derby Prep RaceA common dilemma when handicapping horses on the Triple Crown trail involves projecting how they’ll handle each new hurdle placed before them. They face progressively tougher competition, travel to unfamiliar surroundings, stretch out from one turn to two turns…the list goes on and on. In analyzing a particular Kentucky Derby prep race, sometimes it’s helpful to identify horses that have already accomplished many of the things they’re being asked to do that day.

Kentucky Derby prep race: what to look for

  • WHO: This Ones for Phil, The Pamplemousse
  • WHAT: The Fountain of Youth, The Sham
  • WHERE: Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita
  • WHEN: Saturday, February 28

That usually narrows the field of contenders and also helps establish the proper odds for each horse. Let’s see how this analysis works for Saturday’s 3YO stakes races at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita.

The Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park will be run at a distance of one mile for the first time in the 63-year history of the race. A dozen are entered, but I’m assuming that #4-Take the Points caught a plane for The Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, and will be scratched. There are only two horses in the field that have satisfied all three of the following conditions: 1) a win over Gulfstream’s main track, 2) a stakes win at one mile or longer on dirt, and 3) a Beyer Speed Figure of 100+ on dirt.

They are #9-Capt. Candyman Can (Morning Line 5-1) and #12-This Ones for Phil (Morning Line 3-1). Rick Dutrow, trainer of This Ones for Phil, loves the way his horse is training and is ecstatic about the outside post position. I share his sentiments and believe that This Ones for Phil will get the perfect outside-stalking trip in a field loaded with speed. I’ll bet This Ones for Phil at odds of 5-2 or better, and will use Capt. Candyman Can underneath in the exacta.

In The Sham Stakes, there’s only one horse that has satisfied all three of the following conditions: 1) a win over Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface, 2) a stakes win at one mile or longer, and 3) a Beyer Speed Figure of 95+ (I used 95+ because it better reflects the relative strength of this field). That horse is likely favorite #5-The Pamplemousse, and he’s my pick to win at odds of even money or better. Top horseman Julio Canani is gushing about this colt’s talent, and the huge gray appears to be getting better with each passing day. He’ll be tough to handle on or near the lead.

Best of luck with this weekend’s horse racing handicapping. Here’s hoping you pick lots of winners, and bet on them as well.

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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