Opening Day at Assiniboia Downs and a Kentucky Derby to boot! Picks and Analysis

May 4, 2013 | Handicapping, Live Horse Racing


Breaking from the gate at Assiniboia Downs

And they're off!

Best Bet, Longshot, for opening day at the Downs, horse-by-horse analysis of the 139th Kentucky Derby

by Rob

It’s opening day at Assiniboia Downs on Sunday, May 5 and what better way to precede it than with a Kentucky Derby the day before that features a horse out of a Manitoba-Bred mare, Goldencents!

Northern Dancer, Majesty’s Prince, Sunny’s Halo and I’ll Have Another are on the list of Derby winners with Canadian connections, and Diablo, Lexico and Silver Charm are the horses that have had a Derby experience and/or success with Manitoba connections.

Goldencents looks to join both of the above lists on Saturday afternoon. And while I may not see Goldencents as my pick, I’m starting to view him as a serious threat. Here’s my rundown of the 20 horses in the field, along with a quick preview of Sunday’s live opening day card.

Kentucky Derby, Saturday, May 4, 2013 – Horse by Horse Analysis

  1. Black Onyx [LATE SCRATCH] drew the dreaded rail and will have to drop back and find a dream trip. He has never performed as well on dirt as turf and synthetic and this distance is probably a bit of a question mark for a horse that nonetheless has the right style for the Derby.
  2. Oxbow is my tepid pick to win the Derby. He should relish the classic distance with a pedigree cross of Northern Dancer and Seattle Slew on the bottom and Northern Dancer again on the top. He has tactical speed and looked like he bounced last time in a race he had a difficult trip in. Gary Stevens and D. Wayne Lukas also are in his corner and that should help a ton.
  3. Revolutionary is a horse I really like but would love to be able to get a price on him and I do not think that will happen with Calvin Borel riding. In his two starts in 2013 he has shown all sorts of talent and grit with two determined victories. It’s nice to have a horse who knows where the winner’s circle is and that is this guy’s best trait.
  4. Golden Soul is an outsider who had traffic issues in the Louisiana Derby. He picks up Robby Albarado and he does have a good closing kick that could make him a board contender.
  5. Normandy Invasion is very much one of the wise guy horses with his late run in the Wood Memorial. I am trying to beat him and am hoping that he’s going to struggle with the distance.
  6. Mylute is my second choice in the race and he was wide in the Louisiana Derby. He took the blinkers off and now makes his second start without them. He’s a versatile horse with Rosie Napravnik looking to become the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby.
  7. Giant Finish was the late entrant and he should add to the pace presence. He ran really well in the Spiral, but I would have liked to have seen more from him in some of his races.
  8. Goldencents is the likely pacesetter and he did run well in the Santa Anita Derby, but I think that was an easy trip and there is no such thing as an easy trip in the Kentucky Derby. Kevin Krigger fits this horse well but he is a question mark as well. There are maybe too many unknowns here for a short priced horse.
  9. Overanalyze won the Arkansas Derby quite impressively and if he rounds into his Remsen form he could be very tough, worth an extra look for sure, especially to get up for a piece.
  10. Palace Malice is a horse I definitely am intrigued by as a contender. He adds blinkers for this race and he had an excuse in the Louisiana Derby. The Blue Grass made him look good and with two nine furlong races into him I think he should be fit. One of the horses that should for sure stay the route of ground.
  11. Lines of Battle is an interesting longshot, but only at a gigantic price. He’s got early speed and should love the distance and he has won at 9.5 furlongs, but the talent level is questionable along with the fact that no UAE Derby horse has ever had a finish in the Derby better than 5th.
  12. Itsmyluckyday is the most seasoned horse in the field, and he won the Holy Bull in super impressive fashion two starts ago. Last time he just couldn’t stay with Orb and I have a hard time seeing him closing that gap with more distance to run.
  13. Falling Sky should show speed. He won a roughly run Sam F. Davis and the traffic should not bother this colt.
  14. Verrazano is the undefeated colt of Todd Pletcher’s. I think Verrazano is worth a play against though due to the fact he hasn’t trained super sharp and his Beyers have been declining as the races have gotten longer, another horse with too many question marks at a short price.
  15. Charming Kitten should be a longshot. He has never started on a dirt track, and his pedigree is mostly turf. This poses a problem for the late running Pletcher-trained colt. He has shown some ability but the surface is a huge barrier to cross.
  16. Orb is the probable favorite for the race and he deserves to be. He is the best looking horse and the hot horse in terms of clocker views at Churchill Downs. He has won four in a row now and has looked incredible doing it. The distance will not be an issue, he just has to find a good trip.
  17. Will Take Charge has taken some time off since winning the Rebel Stakes in March. D. Wayne Lukas trains this potential upsetter who knows how to win and he seems to be quite good at overcoming trouble. Definitely an outsiders shot for him.
  18. Frac Daddy hurt himself in the Holy Bull and didn’t show much in the Florida Derby, but woke up in the Arkansas Derby to punch his ticket to Louisville. He does need to move forward again though.
  19. Java’s War won the Blue Grass and chased Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby, but again the surface is an issue and he will have to negotiate his way from last to first from the outside of the gate.
  20. Vyjack has been nagged by physical issues since the Wood Memorial, but his first four performances were all scintillating and improvement is definitely possible. Despite his wide post his past performances make him worth a second look.

My Picks for the 139th Kentucky Derby

  1. Oxbow
  2. Mylute
  3. Orb
  4. Revolutionary
  5. Palace Malice

I made my top selections with horses that were versatile and that I thought had reasons to improve. I was also looking for longshots. It’s way more fun to cheer home that huge price in the Derby, especially one that could result in a life changing score!

Assiniboia Downs opens its live race meet on Sunday and quickly scanning through the card it should be dominated by favorites and fit horses.

I’m going to take a shot against a couple of the obvious horses such as Unbridled Thoughts and City Slewtions. I think their trips could compromise their chances and they will be big favorites. Beat them and the wagers will pay for sure. The race of the day is a filly and mare allowance that features City Slewtions along with a collection of new horses from Woodbine and Penn National, as well as local horses Mega Precious, Tactical Girl and the Champion 3-year-old Filly of Manitoba, She’s Regal.

I will restart my best bet of the day and longshot of the day column, which did show a profit last year.

Opening Day Picks for Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sunday Best Bet: Race 1 – Mixed Intent

Sunday Longshot: (Greater than 5-1) Race 6 – A Girl’s Gotta Do

Good Luck! And make sure to have fun on opening day at the Downs!

Next Post Time for Live Racing: 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 5, 2013