James Scully’s Kentucky Derby Dream Bet selection

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March 5th, 2016

The Editorial staff is playing along for fun in the $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet at and Saturday’s $400,000 Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct serves as the lone qualifier this weekend. Players need to cash a $15 win bet on one of the nine qualifying races to advance to the final round and I met the criteria by selecting Gun Runner two weeks ago in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds.

However, it still stung whiffing on the Fountain of Youth (G2) – Mohaymen towered over the field on paper and made short work of foes on track – and I’m glad to have a more contentious affair to handicap in the Gotham.

The 1 1/16-mile race marks the stakes debut for Shagaf and Rally Cry, a pair of lightly-raced colts who squared off previously in a January 29 allowance at Gulfstream Park. I’m not keen on Sunny Ridge’s Withers (G3) win – a slow race in which one could throw a blanket around the top four finishers at the finish line – and view Shagaf and Rally Cry as leading contenders.

Despite plenty of hype surrounding Shagaf’s debut maiden win, Rally Cry was bet down to the same 9-5 odds in the aforementioned Gulfstream allowance. The son of Uncle Mo was exiting an impressive tally in a December 26 maiden race at Gulfstream Park, registering a commendable 96 BRIS Speed rating for the three-length decision.

But nothing went right for Rally Cry in his first start versus winners. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt recovered from a rough start, advancing to a menacing position before being absolutely stymied by another rival rounding the far turn, forcing the jockey to slam on the breaks as Rally Cry steadied dramatically. The interference cost him any chance but I liked how Rally Cry regained his momentum in the final furlongs, passing rivals to get up for third.

He’s got an opportunity to make amends on Saturday and I’ll tab Rally Cry for the win. Outside posts have performed well in dirt routes on the inner track, according to the Track Bias Stats in the Ultimate Past Performances, and Rally Cry drew well in the outermost spot among seven rivals (Mo Power will scratch for a Sunday allowance). He can sit a good stalking trip before offering his best with jockey Junior Alvarado.

Here are free past performances for the Gotham, courtesy of

And check out the Kentucky Derby Dream Bet contest, where you can play to win a trip to this year’s Kentucky Derby and Oaks and a $25,000 win bet on the Kentucky Derby.