Derby Prep Weekend Watch And Win Now And Later

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Ed DeRosa

March 28th, 2014

The Florida and Louisiana Derby cards (click state name for free Ultimate PPs) on Saturday stand alone as blockbuster wagering and sporting events, but it will be impossible for Thoroughbred racing fans to keep from thinking about the first Friday and Saturday in May when taking in this week’s action.

Click here for Florida Derby day handicapping reports

The $1-million Derbys at Gulfstream Park and Fair Grounds Race Course anchor big days of racing at both venues where the undercards feature Kentucky Oaks prep races as well as events for older horses that could produce starters on the Kentucky Oaks and Derby undercards.

Hopefully our Florida and Louisiana Derby day opinions will reward us on Saturday, and keen observations on the day’s events could lead to further spoils five weeks later in Louisville.

These seven-figure prep races have added significance for Steve Metzler of Louisville, who is the only player still eligible for the $1-million as part of TwinSpires’ Road to the Kentucky Derby SHOWdown. Metzler has picked 11 straight horses to show in Triple Crown prep races and has nine to go with three this weekend: the aforementioned Derbys plus the U.A.E. Derby on Saturday morning from Meydan Racecourse in Dubai.

The top two finishers of all three races are likely to have enough points for this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands with those placings worth 100 and 40 points, respectively. Twenty points for third is probably good for bubble talk at least.

The main Kentucky Derby storylines out of Gulfstream are whether Cairo Prince can affirm his place as a potential Derby favorite. He will be one of the top two choices in this week’s final Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool, and a win could see him favored in five weeks pending what California Chrome and Samraat do next week in the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial Stakes, respectively.

In the Louisiana Derby, I’m eager to see how In Trouble performs as a test against the New York form. In Trouble finished third behind Samraat and Uncle Sigh in the Gotham in a repeat of the Withers Stakes exacta.

That’s part of what I’ll be watching for. As for what I’ll be betting, the two horses who interest me the most on the day are Rise Up in the Louisiana Derby and War Dancer in the Skip Away Stakes.

Rise Up lost all chance in the Risen Star with a poor start, and while the rush up rarely works as a winning move, I like that it gave him more of a race then just hanging out in last for a circuit. If he moves forward of his two-year-old form he can beat these, and 10-to-1 is the right price to find out.

War Dancer’s best race was the Travers Stakes, and while a “6” in the finish position doesn’t set off fireworks, it was the fastest race of his career according to Speed Ratings, and is competitive with this group. The distance also fits.

Enjoy the races this weekend, and enjoy this preview of the weekend’s action from Triple Crown Insider!