Monday, January 18, 2010

Derby Trail Stakes Racing Roundup

On today’s racecard of stakes prep races for 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby Trail is the third edition of the $100,000 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the $65,000 Jimmy Winkfield Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack. Both races are ungraded and do not count in earnings for the Kentucky Derby.

The Smarty Jones Stakes drew a full field of 12 horses and five have been entered in the Jimmy Winkfield, but, in my opinion, neither field appears to be that strong.

Dryfly, the 5-2 morning line favorite in the Smarty Jones Stakes, steps up in class and comes into race with two wins in three starts. With Calvin Borel in the saddle, Dryfly posted a 1 ½ -length win last November in a 7-furlong sprint at Churchill Downs and earned a 102 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort. Since then, Dryfly has been working out good posting three bullet works. Borel retains the mount for today’s race and Dryfly should be competitive in this spot.

At 8-1 morning line odds, Pleasant Storm looks like an interesting prospect. Undefeated in two starts, Pleasant Storm ships to Oaklawn from Remington Park off a 2-length win in the Oklahoma Classics Juvenile Stakes last November.

Both of Pleasant Storm’s wins have been at 6-furlongs but I believe he will have no problem going farther. His sire is the versatile, multiple graded-stakes champion Pleasant Tap who, just to name a few, won the 7-furlong Malibu Stakes (G2) and the 10-furlong Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). Pleasant Storm also gets stamina influence from the dam’s pedigree as well.

Pleasant Storm’s speed figures have improved with each race and a recent bullet work January 6 indicates that he could be ready to move forward with another good effort.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has Crider (8-1) and Prince Rooney (6-1) entered in the Smarty Jones. Crider also ships in from Remington Park where he posted two wins in three starts. Crider has never run in a route race and this is his first effort in stakes competition. However, Crider won his last two races and his speed figures have improved with every race.

Prince Rooney comes into the race off a four-month layoff after being pulled up in the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga last September. Prior to that race, Prince Rooney appeared to be on the fast track last July when he broke his maiden by three-lengths and earned a 95 Brisnet Speed in a 4 ½ -furlong sprint at Arlington Park. In August, Prince Rooney earned a 98 speed figure enroute to a 15-length romp of the 6-furlong Mountaineer Juvenile Stakes at Mountaineer Park.

Since the layoff, Prince Rooney’s works have not been that good but Asmussen must think that he is ready. If Prince Rooney returns to his previous form he could be competitive.

Jimmy Winkfield Stakes

Todd Pletcher sends even-money favorite Citizen’s Arrest to the starting gate of the Jimmy Winkfield, but, in my opinion, the race looks wide open and there others in here that I like better than Pletcher’s entry.

Red Bengal (3-1) comes into the race with two wins and two seconds in five starts for trainer Steve Klesaris. In his last race, Red Bengal won an allowance race in a 9 ¾ -length romp in the slop at Penn National December 26. Red Bengal’s speed figures have improved with each race and a sharp work out January 15 suggest that he will be competitive.

Love Who (5-1) has steadily improved with each race and comes into the Jimmy Winkfield with a 10 ¾ - length romp in the New Jersey Juvenile at the Meadowlands.

Deputy Daney (4-1) is undefeated in two starts for trainer Cathal Lynch. Deputy Daney has not raced in more than two months and comes into the race with a win by a head in an allowance race at Philadelphia Park October 24.

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