There are three main tracks I watch intently when it comes to Kentucky Derby prep races – Santa Anita, Gulfstream, and Oaklawn Park.
Oaklawn started its run of prep races last week with the Smarty Jones. Santa Anita and Gulfstream jump into the earnest fray Saturday with the running of the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita and the Holy Bull at Gulfstream.
In the Holy Bull, nine horses will go to post in the 1-1/16-mile prep at Gulfstream. The race is the 11th on the card and is set for a 1:50 PDT time post.
Greatest Honour (Claude McGaughey/Jose Ortiz/5-2) is your morning line favorite. The horse has hit the board in all four starts but did not pick up a win until his last race, bringing home a straight maiden score over the Gulfstream track in late December.
The horse has closed in every start and expect the same here with the question being, is there enough speed in here?
The second choice – at least in the morning line – Prime Factor (Todd Pletcher/Irad Ortiz/3-1). The horse sizzled in his lone start, an impressive 8-length maiden score at Gulfstream in early December. Since then, it has been a steady and impressive series of works in the morning. I honestly believe this will be your favorite when they load into the gate.
Sittin On Go (Dale Romans/Corey Lanerie/5-1) is the third choice. After two straight wins to start his career, he went downhill, finishing ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, followed by a sixth in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Since then, it has been a series of consistent, but pedestrian works for the return.
Amount (Pletcher/Luis Saez/6-1) rounds out the top four morning line selections. Another easy first time winner, he scored an off-the-pace win on December 26.
Ortiz rode both Pletcher horses in their debut wins and has opted for Prime Factor here. Both horses showed similar styles in their debut so it will be interesting to see how that plays out here.
Papetu (Antonio Sano/Leonal Reyes, 15-1) may be an interesting long shot. After starting with a pair of wins at Gulfstream, he ventured north to Saratoga and struggled in a pair of graded stakes races, including finishing 35-lengths back in the Hopeful. The jockey protected the horse in that race, not pushing him. Following the race in early September he went to the shelf before returning Jan. 2 at Gulfstream, finishing second in the Mucho Macho Man at 20-1. There might be something there, especially at the price.
By Dennis Miller