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Feb 19, 2010

THRU THE BINOCULARS

By: John Piesen


TAKE FIVE

The Road to the Triple Crown extends from Florida to California on Saturday with five major stakes for 3-year-olds scheduled.

Actually, only four stakes were scheduled, but the Southwest, which was to be run last Monday at Oaklawn Park, was postponed to Saturday due to unsafe track conditions, which prompted the jockeys to take off after race four.

Needless to say, my selections for all five races will be up and running here on-line, and on the world-famous, red hot John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-612-2283).

So let's take a look, going east to west (all times Eastern):

HUTCHESON  (Gulfstream Park, Race 8, 4:37 p.m.)

The two favorites -- D'Funnybone and A Little Warm -- drew outside in the field of eight, and that clearly is the place to be going seven furlongs at The Gulf.

D' Funnybone, a Florida-bred from Big Brown's connections (Pompa/Dutrow), looked like the good Brownie winning the Saratoga Special and Belmont Futurity by a combined 15 lengths, but stopped on a dime as the 6-1 third choice in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Maybe it was the plastic. Maybe the two-turns. Maybe it was burnout. Your guess is as good as mine.

But Funny has been training lights-out at Gulfstream, Prado sticks, he's got that ideal outside post, and no doubt will go favored in the Hutch.

A Little Warm wore down Wildcat Frankie in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes over the track, and the extra furlong should help ALW. Then again, Frankie will benefit from slower-paced fractions.

Radiohead was tipped big-time from across the pond for the BC Juvenile, and didn't run all that bad. He was checked going into the first turn, and finished mid-pack, beaten only four lengths for all the money.

Radiohead was purchased by the IEAH boys after the BC, and will cap an uncoupled entry from Dutrow. The switch to Leparoux is a good thing; the one-hole is not.

The New York-bred Ibboyee flopped with no excuse at 2-5 in the Count Fleet, but you can never overlook Pletcher/Johnny V, especially at this track. 

 

FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH  (Gulfstream Park, Race 10, 5:40 p.m.)

Buddy's Saint and Jackson Bend, ranked near the top in most Derby Top Tens (including mine), square off in this major nine-furlong Florida Derby prep.

Jackson Bend, as first-time Zito, saw his five-race winning streak snapped when he settled for second at 8-5 to the since-sidelined Winslow Homer in the Holy Bull Stakes, beating the third finisher by three-plus lengths.

That race over the track would -- at least on paper -- give Jackson Bend the edge over Buddy's Saint, who hasn't raced for trainer Levine since winning the Remsen in late November at this distance at Aqueduct.

Expect Lezcano to gun Buddy right to the lead from the two-hole, with Rose settling JB right off his flank.

The two favorites are a combined 7-3-0 from 10 starts, but, that said, the FOY is far from  a two-horse race.

Ice Box, an allowance winner over the track, completes an uncoupled entry from Saint Nick. Pletcher runs the uncoupled entry of Aikenite and Eskendereya.

Look for Aikenite (back to Garcia) and Pulsion to come running late. Smith makes the 6,000-mile trip from the left coast to ride Pulsion for Biancone, and
Prado pilots Positive Split, who needed his last, for McPeek.    

                                                      
RISEN STAR
(Fair Grounds, Race 10, 5:43 p.m.)

You would think the racing establishment would find a way to avoid the Fountain of Youth and Risen Star going head-to-head. But that would be asking too much.

Ron the Greek looked like Pyro circling the field from last to win the mile/40 LeComte over the track, his third win for trainer Amoss in four
career starts.

The Greek was 8-1 that day as a Hot Line special; he'll be shorter this time from the 11-hole in a field of 12 going a mile/16 under same jock Graham.

Letsgetitonmon, an Asmussen gray, closed sneaky-fast for third in the same race, and might reverse.

But it's the shippers who catch the eye -- notably Discreetly Mine (Pletcher), Drosselmeyer (Mott), Northern Giant (Lukas) and Tempted to Tapit
(Klesaris). The latter two come into the Risen Star off identical 11-length victories

There are no Grade One winners in the race, and Discreetly Mine (second in the Champagne) is the only one of the dozen who has actually competed in a
Grade One.

On paper, the Risen Star is wide-open, but check out the Hot Line for the horse I think is a standout.

                                                  
SOUTHWEST
  (Oaklawn Park, Race 10, 6:29 p.m.)

When the Southwest was originally drawn for last Monday, Dublin was assigned the outside post in the field of 10. Winners come out of post 10 going two-turns at Oaklawn about as frequently as Halley's Comet, so trainer Lukas understandably was upset, so much so that he expressed his displeasure in print in the hometown newspaper.

So whaddya know?

The jocks take off after the fourth race, the Southwest is re-drawn for Saturday, and Dublin winds up in the three-hole. I guess these things happen when you go through life as D. Wayne Lukas.

Of course, no matter the post, Dublin, off a three-month layup, will have to run his eyeballs out to handle the likes of -- among others -- Conveyance (Baffert), Dryfly (Whiting), and Mission Impazible (Pletcher).

While Lukas benefits from the re-draw, Baffert takes a licking. Conveyance, unbeaten in three starts on the California plastic, goes from the three to the nine, and loses jockey Gomez, who has Florida commitments. Garcia flies in from LA for the call.

And Coa flies in from Florida to replace Johnny V on the Mission, who must break from the outside in the field of 10 going a mile.

Take your pick from among the first four finishers in the Smarty Jones -- Dryfly, Pleasant Storm, Kitty's Turn, Crider -- and/or the first three in the San Rafael -- Conveyance, Cardiff Giant, Domonation.

Even from the nine-hole, Conveyance, the best bet in the DRF consensus box, figures to make an easy lead in a race pretty much devoid of early buzz.  

                                                 
EL CAMINO REAL
(Golden Gate, Race 7, 6:45 p.m.)

This time, Pletcher has the favorite.

Connemara, second at 3-5 in the California Derby, will go favored for The Toddster in this marquee event for 3-year-olds at the northern California track. Russell Baze, the all-time leader in races won, has the return call from the eight-hole in a field of 10 going nine furlongs.

Ranger Heartley, who led every jump in the California Derby, and held off Connemara by three-quarters of a length, will try the same tactics again.

And, just for kicks, Pletcher has the favorite -- Life At Ten -- in the Aqueduct feature, the $65,000 Rare Treat Stakes for fillies and mares, 3 and up, at nine furlongs.

This is one busy man.

Thanks for tuning in. Don't forget the JPHL, and catch you back here Tuesday for a look back at the weekend action.


THERE ARE 5 KENTUCKY DERBY PREP RACES SATURDAY
LET JOHN PIESEN GET YOU TO THE WINNER'S CIRCLE

When it comes to winning the Derby, the most important time is not the first Saturday in May...but key Saturdays on the Derby Trail. These are not just the days of the most important Derby prep races... but also the days of the BIGGEST PAYOFFS!

JOHN LOVES SATURDAY'S DERBY PREP LINEUP...
THERE'S REAL MONEY TO BE MADE ON THESE 5 RACES!!

Gulfstream Park

The Hutcheson Stakes

 

The Fountain Of Youth

Fair Grounds

The Risen Star Stakes

Oaklawn Park

The Southwest Stakes

Golden Gate Fields

The El Camino Real Derby

John knows which 3-year-olds are out running their older stable mates during morning works. He knows which colts are coming back from stiff exercise still kicking and squealing and playfully nipping their hot walkers and which one are dragging their tails and tired after morning exercise.

More than that, John gets the inside word on which horses want the lead and who wants to sit right off the pace. He knows which horses are too timid to go for a hole on the rail and therefor will lose ground (and maybe the race) by having to go wide.

THAT'S WHY YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT JOHN PIESEN WINS
MORE DERBY PREPS THAN ANY OTHER HANDICAPPER, BAR NONE...

THE DERBY PREP SEASON IS ON AND YOU'LL GET EVERY WIN, EXACTA, TRIFECTA AND SUPERFECTA SELECTION
FOR THIS POWERFUL SERIES OF RACES...

February 27th

John Battaglia
Sham Stakes

Turfway Park
Santa Anita

March 6th

Gotham Stakes

Aqueduct

March 13th

Rebel Stakes
Tampa Bay Derby
San Felipe Stakes

Oaklawn
Tampa Bay Downs
Santa Anita

March 20th 

Florida Derby
Swale Stakes

Gulfstream Park
Gulfstream Park

March 27th  

Louisiana Derby
Rushaway Stakes
Lane's End Stakes

Fairgrounds
Turfway Park
Turfway Park

April 3rd

Wood Memorial Illinois Derby
Santa Anita Derby

Aqueduct
Hawthorne
Santa Anita

April 10th 

Blue Grass Stakes
Arkansas Derby

Keeneland
Oaklawn Park

April 17th 

Lexington

Keeneland

April 24th

Withers
Derby Trial

Aqueduct
Churchill Downs



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