Trainer Michael Machowsky already has a nice Kentucky Derby prospect in undefeated Caracortado and he’s hoping to add another one to his Derby roster when he sends the 5-2 morning line favorite Nextdoorneighbor to the starting gate of the $150,000 Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.
After two previous attempts, Nextdoorneighbor broke his maiden last month and he will be making his stakes debut in the Sham. Nextdoorneighbor has been working out good with stablemate Caracortado and a bullet work February 15 suggests that he could be ready to run a good race. But, I’m not so sure he is as good as Caracortado, who I like a lot, and I believe there are others in here that could pull off the upset.
Lightly-raced Kettle River (6-1) looks like he could be ready to run a real good race. In his maiden debut last August, Kettle River finished a poor sixth, beaten by 9 ½ - lengths in a 6-furlong sprint at Saratoga. Trainer Eoin Harty gave Kettle River a three month break and brought him back in 8.5-furlong race on the turf which he won by 1 ¼ - lengths.
Last month, Kettle River won another 8.5-furlong race at Santa Anita and earned a 92 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort. His speed figures have improved with every race and I believe that he will be very competitive in this race.
At 10-1 morning line odds, Outlaw Man looks like an interesting long shot. His last three races were on the turf and trainer Ken McPeak drops him back in distance for today’s race. Outlaw Man broke his maiden last time out and he has finished in the money in his last two races. I look for him to be competitive.
In his maiden debut last September, Setsuko (3-1) finished fourth in a 5 ½ - furlong sprint at Del Mar. Since then, Setsuko has run in five route races, finishing in the money in every outing. His speed figures are consistently in the 80’s and on par with the other runners in this race. I look for him to be competitive and would not be surprised if he won.
The $100,000 Borderland Derby at Sunland Park is not a graded-stakes race and does not count in earnings for the Kentucky Derby. However, it is a scoring race in the Road ToThe Roses contest.
Tango Tango, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, is the 9-5 morning line favorite. But, I like the second-choice Storming Saint (5-2) the best.
Storming Saint, powering home in a 13-length romp, broke his maiden last November running in a mile route race at Zia Park. He came back in December and finished third in a 6-furlong stakes race at Sunland Park. Since then, he has been working out good and his bullet work February 20 indicates he could be ready for another good race.
Guiltbyassociation (10-1) and Raise The Bridle (25-1) look like a couple of interesting long shot possibilities.
Guiltbyassociation, like last year’s Borderland Derby runnerup Mine That Bird, was sired by Birdstone. Guiltbyassociation had previously raced on the turf in California. But, earlier this month, it looks like Guiltbyassociation found the Sunland Park dirt surface more appealing as he finally broke his maiden by a nose in a 6-furlong sprint. Guiltbyassociation earned and 84 speed figure for that effort and he may be ready to run another good race.
Raise The Bridle has only one race to his credit and he lost that by a nose to Guiltbyassociation. It looks like Raise The Bridle could, perhaps, be in over his head, but I like his odds and he has a nice pedigree. His sire, Spanish Steps, is a full-brother to Unbridled’s Song. On the female line, Raise The Bridle gets stamina influence from Gulch, Wavering Monarch and Ribot.
At 25-1 odds, I believe he is worth a small wager.