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Steer Clear of Chalk in Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 4/15/2011 4:49:21 PM
  • Who: Thoroughbreds – Santiva, Crimson China, The Factor, Elite Alex
  • What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Blue Grass Stakes, The Arkansas Derby
  • Where: Keeneland, Oaklawn Park
  • When: Saturday, April 16th

The Blue Grass at Keeneland and The Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park shape up as the final key stepping stones to The Kentucky Derby three weeks hence. Sure, there’s The Lexington at Keeneland next Saturday, where Jaycito will get his last-minute tune up for the Run for the Roses. He’s already got enough graded earnings to make the Derby field, however, so his placing in that race is not that critical. It is for many of the participants in this weekend’s preps, as several key players lack the necessary bankroll. Let’s take a look at those races, with an eye toward knocking off the favorites.

Santiva (3-1) is the lukewarm morning line favorite in The Blue Grass, and could very well be the winner. He’s hit the board in all five career starts, including a second in last year’s Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity over the Keeneland strip. The 77 Beyer Speed Figure he earned in that race won’t scare anyone away, though. Neither will the 91 he earned while second to Mucho Macho Man last out in The Risen Star. He enters the Blue Grass off a 2-month break, so that’s of some concern as well. I’m siding with deep closer Crimson China at a juicy price (morning line 10-1). He’s done well on artificial surfaces (3-1-2-0), and has earned the field’s top Beyer (87) on poly track with a second last out in The Rushaway at Turfway Park. His chances were compromised in that race when he broke slowly, raced six wide, and reportedly bled. Trainer H. Graham Motion likes the way Crimson China is coming up to this race, and I’m looking for the well-bred son of Giant’s Causeway to be rolling late. I’ll bet on Crimson China across the board at odds of 6-1 or better.

The Factor (7-5) has earned 100+ Beyers in his last three starts, and passed his two-turn test in The Rebel with flying colors. The Arkansas Derby figures to be a tougher test, however. He’s picking up five pounds off his Rebel win, and will be asked to carry that extra weight an additional sixteenth of a mile. It’s likely he’ll be subjected to more pressure on the front end this time, with speedy horses like Brethren, Dance City, and Saratoga Red in the lineup. I’ll take my chances with the talented underachiever Elite Alex (morning line 8-1). Much has been expected from this horse since winning his career debut at odds of 6-5. He’s beautifully bred, and in the very capable hands of trainer Tim Ritchey and jockey Calvin Borel. His Beyers have risen with every start, and he’s had excuses in all three races since breaking his maiden. He was left with too much to do when going a mile in his two starts locally, especially with the abbreviated stretch at that distance. Then he was six wide in the Louisiana Derby, in which he closed for fourth. He gets blinkers for this, and worked sharply from the gate on April 6th, earning a bullet for his six-furlong move. With a more alert beginning and a quick pace up front, I’m expecting Elite Alex to get the job done on Saturday, and stamp himself as a major player on the first Saturday in May.

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

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