Scully’s Kentucky Derby Dream Bet picks for Blue Grass, Santa Anita Derby & Wood Memorial

Profile Picture: James Scully

April 8th, 2016

The final round of the $25,000 Kentucky Derby Dream Bet is underway and Saturday is a huge day with three major final preps: the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland, Santa Anita Derby (G1) and Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct.

The Santa Anita Derby and Wood don’t offer a good opportunity for value in my estimation, but the 14-horse Blue Grass is very contentious. And my top selection, Star Hill, is listed at 10-1 on the Blue Grass morning line and could drift even higher by post time.

A good third when making his career debut in a salty Saratoga maiden race, the Elusive Quality colt jumped straight to a stakes for Rusty Arnold in his second career start, the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. That was a bullish move by a usually conservative trainer, but Star Hill had a rough trip finishing sixth.

He returned this year with a rallying third in a good Gulfstream maiden and came back to earn his first win in smashing fashion, romping by 7 ¾ lengths on February 13. Star Hill returned to stakes company in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and offered a solid rally for third in a fast race, gaining valuable experience in the process.

Star Hill won’t be facing the deepest competition and the Blue Grass could set up nicely for his late kick. I’ll tab the improving 3-year-old for an upset.

Danzing Candy rolled to a two-length victory when making his stakes debut in the San Felipe (G2), registering a 104 BRIS Speed rating in one of the best prep races so far this year, and the Cliff Sise-trained colt will show speed again in the Santa Anita Derby from his inside post.

From the first crop of Twirling Candy, the dark bay is bred to relish wet conditions on both sides of his pedigree (Twirling Candy is a 35% mud sire from a small sample) and Danzing Candy can continue to show more with another wire-to-wire victory beneath Mike Smith.

In the Wood Memorial, Outwork gets top billing. The Uncle Mo colt captured his first two starts in sprints, scoring by 4 ¼ lengths when opening 2016 in a February 13 allowance at Tampa, and came back to finish a commendable second in his two-turn bow, the Tampa Bay Derby.

The Todd Pletcher trainee hails from an Empire Maker mare – the stretch out to nine furlongs should be no problem, and further improvement is expected. Outwork figures to be stalking pacesetter Matt King Coal in second before offering a serious challenge with John Velazquez.

Good luck this weekend!