December 13, 2018

San Felipe Stakes Shapes Up as Kentucky Derby Top Two Showdown

From a hype perspective, Good Magic‘s loss in the Fountain of Youth Stakes was the San Felipe Stakes‘ gain, as Saturday’s Kentucky Derby points race at Santa Anita Park now features the top two horses on the Triple Crown trail as per me and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll.

Good Magic entered his three-year-old debut as the top-ranked three-year-old in the NTRA poll, but the champion Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner exits his third-place finish ranked fourth with only my esteemed colleague Joe Kristufek keeping him on top.

As for me, I dropped Good Magic from second to fifth. I was prepared to forgive a loss, but finding an excuse as to why he couldn’t at least be second in the race is tougher to find. As a Kentucky Derby prospect, I still like him better than either winner Promises Fulfilled (now 10th on my list) or runner-up Strike Power (a horse I give very little chance to)–especially considering Good Magic lost his career debut at odds on before progressing to Breeders’ Cup glory. A similar form cycle as a three-year-old would time up well for Kentucky Derby glory.

As for Promises Fulfilled’s performance: from a “numbers” perspective, it stacks up very well, but I have concerns about his wanting to go 1 1/4 miles on or near the lead. He also has the dreaded “Storm Cat curse” hanging over his sire line. Still, as one of only a few of his generation to run a 104-105 Speed Rating and already with enough points to make the field, the Shackleford colt belongs in the top 10.

Which brings us back to this upcoming weekend’s action headlined by the aforementioned San Felipe Stakes and supported by the one-turn-mile Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs. Each race is worth 85 Kentucky Derby points (with 50 to the winner), and when all is said and done on Saturday, bettors will have all day Sunday to put their opinions into action in pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager (which opens Thursday). For Kentucky Derby past performances in points order from Brisnet Ultimate PPs, CLICK HERE.

The San Felipe is likely to feature the top two horses on mine and the NTRA’s polls: Grade 1 winners Bolt d’Oro–the beaten favorite in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile–and the undefeated (by virtue of Solomini’s DQ in the Los Alamitos Futurity) McKinzie.

It’s a matchup befitting the race’s history, which has had three winners gone on to capture the Derby the past 29 years (Sunday Silence, Fusaichi Pegasus, and California Chrome) as well as also rans Cavonnier, Silver Charm, and Real Quiet, and one that will likely cement the winner’s (assuming it’s either Bolt d’Oro or McKinzie) as the #1 three-year-old with 8 weeks until the Kentucky Derby.

Also this week is the one Kentucky Oaks Future Wager, which also includes the first-ever Oaks-Derby double Future Wager.

I’m extremely bullish on my top 3 horses and would definitely look to bet any of them at 10-to-1 or better. I slid Best Performance in at #8, as she’s nominated to the race and has some dirt form as a two-year-old, and a length off Rushing Fall (albeit on turf) definitely fits with this group from a class perspective. I’d play her at 20-to-1.