A pretty rough 0-2 this weekend as far as picks are concerned. Palace Malice got nipped in the shadow of the wire by Java’s War to win the Toyota Blue Grass, while War Academy was pulled up in the Arkansas Derby, a race in which Overanalyze won.
Thoughts on the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes:
- No excuse this time – Palace Malice was beaten fair and square. Java’s War put in a long, sustained run and eventually wore down Palace Malice in deep stretch.
- As many people have indicated, Java’s War has developed a pretty significant issue with regards to his gate breaking. He hasn’t broken sharply since his two-year old campaign, and a bad break in Louisville all but dooms a racehorse. He has some ability, but he’s definitely going to have to do some maturing here in the next three weeks.
- Mike Smith will have the mount on Palace Malice in the Kentucky Derby…I wish I could say something more positive about PM two days removed from the race, but he simply wasn’t good enough to win on Saturday.
- Uncaptured was a VERY dull Saturday, ensuring he won’t be one of the twenty runners in Louisville
- The winning Beyer Speed Figure came back a supremely soft 89…I’m not sure I want anyone from this race
- If you follow my logic there, I think it to be another knock against Verrazano – I know the runner-up in the Tampa Bay Derby came back to win this race, but I would have liked to seen the figure come back much stronger than this.
Thoughts on the Arkansas Derby:
- Overanalyze rebounded from his lackluster effort in the Gotham by roughly four lengths, but by no means was this an impressive effort
- The winning Beyer Speed Figure came back an even softer 88 – leading me to believe this could be another complete throw out race
- I’ve been suspect of every race run at Oaklawn Park this spring, and I feel like this race confirmed my feelings
- War Academy was pulled up on the backstretch, which was no doubt disappointing for me – I thought for sure he was primed for a huge effort. It wouldn’t shock me to see him in the Belmont Stakes.
- It may be possible that the large quantity of races Oxbow has run consecutively may have finally caught up to him. I’m not sure how confident I am about him going forward.
We’re down to the final two “minor” Derby preps in the Lexington at Keeneland and the Derby Trial at Churchill, although I’d be shocked if either actually effected the starting lineup for the Kentucky Derby. Less than three weeks until the First Saturday in May!