By Tom Quigley
$3,000,000 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs
Race 14 (Saturday, September 5, 2020: 7:01 p.m./ET; 4:01 p.m./PT)
One mile and a quarter on the main track (three-year-olds)
The first ever September edition of the Kentucky Derby (G1) features a field of 18 three-year-olds looking to add their name to the list of 146 legends who have won the world’s most prestigious thoroughbred race. And although this year’s Derby will be void of the usual pageantry and on-track spectators, we still have a chance, thanks to technology, to put more money into our TVG accounts if our handicapping is correct. Let’s attempt to do that right now:
#1 FINNICK THE FIERCE was sent off at an astronomical price (62/1) in the Arkansas Derby (G1) and finished third behind NADAL and #6 KING GUILLERMO. Since then, he has been nowhere close to the winner in his last two starts, an allowance race on June 13 in which he finished seven lengths behind, and a 10 length loss in the Bluegrass (G2) at Keeneland. Note he beat #17 TIZ THE LAW over this track last November, but that was early in their careers. Passing.
#2 MAX PLAYER makes his first start for the Steve Asmussen barn. Son of HONOR CODE completed the trifecta in the August 8 Travers (G1) at Saratoga and, before that, finished third in the Belmont (G1), both of which were won by #17 TIZ THE LAW. He’s lightly raced with an improving Beyer Speed Figure pattern so could make some noise for an underneath placing in exotic wagers.
#3 ENFORCEABLE is a brother to graded stakes winners MOHAYMEN, NEW YEARS DAY and KINGLY. Son of TAPIT won the Lecomte (G3) on January 17 but has finished behind the winner in his last three races, including most recently in the Bluegrass (G2) at Keeneland. Would be a surprise if he were to come out on top.
#4 STORM THE COURT won the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in game style, holding off runner up finisher ANNEAU D’OR for the length of the lane. That said, he has lost five straight races since that victory and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) field he beat has proven over time to have been a subpar group. Longshot.
#5 MAJOR FED had to settle for second when no match for the winner of the Indiana Derby (G3) on July 8. He only has a maiden win to his credit and his career best Beyer Speed Figure is an 87, indicating he will need to run significantly faster to keep up with the main contenders, who sport triple digit figures on their best day. In tough.
#6 KING GUILLERMO was still in the field as of press time, but may be scratched due to missing a day of training on Thursday.
#7 MONEY MOVES is campaigned by two-time Kentucky Derby (G1) winning trainer Todd Pletcher. Last winter, this son of CANDY RIDE broke his maiden and won an allowance to kick off his career. Shortly thereafter, he was given 120 days of time away from the races after a minor setback, and returned in a mile-and-one-eighth, second level allowance race at Saratoga on July 25 against older, finishing a neck behind the winner as the favorite. He sports solid speed figure but is lightly raced and has never run in a stakes races before. It’s a big ask for a horse like him to win a race like this.
#8 SOUTH BEND is 0-for-8 this year and will need to improve significantly to hit the board. In his most recent afternoon appearance, he finished a distant fourth to #17 TIZ THE LAW in the Travers (G1).
#9 MR. BIG NEWS won the Oaklawn Stakes in April at off odds of 46/1, defeating #10 THOUSAND WORDS that day. He took three months off after the upset victory and returned at Keeneland where he was a non-threatening sixth in the Bluegrass (G1). He may run better in his second start off a layoff, but speed figures indicate he needs to improve greatly to hit the board in this race.
#10 THOUSAND WORDS comes off a career best race, defeating #16 HONOR A.P. by three parts of a length to win the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar while earning a career high, triple digit Beyer Speed Figure (101). Earlier this year, the son of PIONEEROF THE NILE finished second in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3) and won the Robert B. Lewis (G3) in February over lesser company than what he finds in this race. One of two runners for Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has won this race five times. In the hunt.
#11 NECKER ISLAND was claimed for $100,000 in June but has lost seven straight races dating back to November, 2019. He has yet to be anywhere close to the winner in all seven of his races in 2020. Will go off at a massive price.
#12 SOLE VOLANTE gave it a go in the June 20 Belmont Stakes (G1) and was a no show, well back throughout that mile-and-an-eighth contest. But his best races have resulted in solid efforts (second behind #6 KING GUILLERMO in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and a runway victory in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs). Mixed signals.
#13 ATTACHMENT RATE went off at a price (14/1) in the Ellis Park Derby and finished as the runner up to ART COLLECTOR in the field of 12. Before that effort, he had finished off the board in both the Bluegrass (G2) and Matt Winn (G3). Will be a big price if you’re a believer.
#14 WINNING IMPRESSION has finished double digit lengths behind the winner in his last three starts. But trainer Dallas Stewart conditions and he has hit the board with Kentucky Derby (G1) longshots in the past. In 2013, he campaigned GOLDEN SOUL to a second-place finish at 34/1 while 37/1 longshot COMMANDING CURVE ran second in the 2014 edition.
#15 NY TRAFFIC hit the board in three consecutive Derby points races, the Risen Star (G2), Louisiana Derby (G2) and Matt Winn (G3) before losing by a nose in his best race yet, the Haskell (G1). He was unlucky to lose to AUTHENTIC that day and arguably ran a winning race. However, the waters only get deeper and he’ll need to improve once more.
#16 HONOR A. P. stalked the pace before drawing off and defeating #18 AUTHENTIC two starts back in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). However, he disappointed in his most recent start, the Shared Belief Stakes, running second to #10 THOUSAND WORDS. But maybe that was just a prep race for this. Trainer John Sheriffs conditions, who won the 2005 Kentucky Derby (G1) with Giacomo.
#17 TIZ THE LAW is the one to beat. Son of CONSTITUTION has won six of seven lifetime starts, including last month’s Travers (G1) at Saratoga where he hit the wire five lengths in front while under a hold and earning a 109 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort. Barclay Tagg trains for Sackatoga Stable and they won this race in 2003 with FUNNY CIDE.
#18 AUTHENTIC was all out to win the Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park by a nose over the late charging #15 NY TRAFFIC, raising further questions whether he really wants to go the mile-and-a-quarter distance. But the early pace in this race could be soft and with his outside post, expect to see this guy in front heading into the first turn.
1. #16 HONOR A.P. - Will love the classic distance and is sitting on a career best.
2. #17 TIZ THE LAW - A superstar, no doubt.
3. #3 ENFORCEABLE - Well-bred colt will be rolling late.
LONGSHOT VALUE PLAY - #7 MONEY MOVES – Horse he lost to last time runs in the Woodward (G1).
I’ll key my top selection on top with six other picks in trifectas and make $10 win bets on two runners that I expect to be overlooked by the betting public.
BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)
$1 Trifecta: #16 HONOR A.P over #2 MAX PLAYER and #3 ENFORCEABLE and #7 MONEY MOVES and #12 SOLE VOLANTE and #17 TIZ THE LAW and #18 AUTHENTIC ($30).
$10 Win: #3 ENFORCEABLE $10 Win: #7 MONEY MOVES
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