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Kentucky Derby Points- Frontrunner at Santa Anita

2 Year Old Derby Hopefuls in Frontrunner

Cleburne Fights Off Smart Cover in Iroquois StakesThe $250,000 Grade 1 Frontrunner Stakes at Santa Anita this Saturday is the second race on the list for the 2014 Kentucky Derby Points System. The top four finishers in this 2 year old race will receive points towards their eligibility in the 2014 Kentucky Derby and will join the likes of Cleburne, Smart Cover, Tapiture and Ride On Curlin (the top 4 finishers in the Iroquois Stakes earlier this month.) Although it is far too soon to tell, this type of race brings a certain amount of excitement with it as you never know if we are looking at the next Derby champion! If it’s as thrilling as the Iroquois was, we’re in for a great race! In the Iroquois, stable mates Cleburne and Smart Cover upset the field in a dash for the finish, paying $500 for the exacta. Cleburne held on by a neck in that one and it made for a spectacular start to the 2013-14 Kentucky Derby Prep Season. On Saturday at Santa Anita, the Frontrunner promises another 4 possible Derby contenders so let’s see what we can find.

Frontrunner- A Dance With Fate

Tamarando beating Dance With Fate & Can the Man in Del Mar FuturityLooking at the morning line, this race is certainly up for grabs. The morning line favorite is 7/2 Dance With Fate and is surrounded by 3 other 4 to 1 morning line contenders, as well as 7 other hopefuls. Dance With Fate recently ran second in the Del Mar Futurity making a late charge and missing it by half a length. Prior to the Del Mar Futurity, he won his maiden race in a straight maiden 75k at Del Mar by 1 ½ lengths. Although he actually was the “frontrunner” in his maiden win, he closed from way back in the Del mar Futurity. In my book, that makes this young colt a true threat as he has proven that he can be versatile. He was beaten by a late charging Tamarando in the Del Mar Futurity, who is at 4 to 1 on the ML in this race. Tamarando came from nearly as far back as Dance With Fate did in that race and has consistently shown signs that he is more comfortable making that late rally than he would be on the lead. Third in the Del Mar Futurity was Can the Man who likes to be closer to the front. In that race, he kept at a very close 2nd up until the stretch where he took the lead and was ultimately passed up by Tamarando and Dance With Fate.  Can the Man is also 4 to 1 on the morning line. Depending on how this shakes out, Can the Man could very well take the lead here and never look back, but I don’t believe that will happen. Personally, I feel that Dance With Fate has the flexibility to stalk the pace and come out the victor. At least out of these 3 horses. But the other 4 to 1 option on the morning line, Schoolofhardrocks might stalk as well.  This son of Rock Hard Ten looked nice in his career debut at Del Mar winning a straight maiden 75k by 1 ½ lengths. If he can move a little closer to the front early on in the Frontrunner, he stands a great shot at taking this one.

Looking For a Better Bet

Alpine Luck & Ontology (right)As you probably already know, I dislike touting the favorite (even if it’s a close 4 way tie on the morning line!), so let’s look at some possible upsets in the Frontrunner. I like Ontology as a possible value play here. Although he hasn’t broke maiden yet, he does have some stakes race experience under his belt having run 2nd in the Hollywood Juvenile at Hollywood and the Oak Tree Juvenile at Del Mar, as well as his 4th place finish in the Best Pal. In his last two outings he has gained ground down the stretch and I believe his steady improvement will show up here again in this race. At 10 to 1 on the morning line, he should pay well should he upset this field. For a longshot that may pay as well as Cleburne did in the Iroquois, I like Better Bet. Another horse that I believe will only improve with age, Better Bet would pay huge if he upsets this field. He has only won 1 of his 7 outings, but in that race he beat Tamarando. He has tried to front-run in his last two races (the Graduation and the I’m Smokin Stakes) only to tire before the finish. I’m hoping that his connections have worked out the kinks and have him ready here. He’ll have the blinkers on Saturday and I look for a big run from this horse.

 

 

 

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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at HandicapHorseRacing.com and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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