Favorite looks too tough in Gotham, beatable in Fountain of Youth
El Areeb is likely to be odds-on, while Irish War Cry at least has some rivals who, on paper, have a chance to spring a very minor upset. A reminder to those participating in the contest to play both races and pad your total for an opportunity to win Qualifying Round Prizes. More information on the contest and prizes can be found here.
Off his wins in the Jerome and Withers, El Areeb again looks like a standout in the Gotham, so I won't be picking against him on Saturday. Irish War Cry, on the other hand, is arguably more beatable, though the logical alternatives are slim in number.
Irish War Cry got away with setting a moderate pace in the Holy Bull and kicked clear while his main foe, Classic Empire, toiled in third and came away with various physical ailments he's still battling. Irish War Cry is certainly a good horse and a legit Derby threat, but he might not get so favorable a trip in the Fountain of Youth.
Practical Joke (#6, 3-1) is in a tough spot making his return from a four-month break, but proved his worth last season as one of the best juveniles in the country. Battle-tested in both the Hopeful (G1) and Champagne (G1), the Chad Brown trainee was a credible third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita despite an uninspiring trip from a wide draw.
A mile and a quarter might not end up being Practical Joke's thing, but 1 1/16 miles is definitely within his scope. His work pattern has been strong, and jockey Jose Ortiz, with whom he is reunited on Saturday, was able to get the best out of him in the Hopeful despite an unfavorable pace scenario.