Welcome to Week 3 of the bankroll. Currently the bankroll shows an $8 profit.

The next prep on the Derby trail is the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The huge favorite Mohaymen enters the race undefeated in his 4-race career, with a recent dominating win in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes at GP.

To bet or not to bet, that is the question.

Fountain of Youth Stakes

Missing from Mohaymen‘s list of accomplishments is “Setting or surviving a fast pace.” That merits a wager against him here.

One horse in the field offers the alluring combination of a pace advantage and a decent price. Awesome Banner stretches to two turns for the first time today after posting blazing fractions in stakes sprints. His final furlongs have been slow, suggesting possible difficulty at longer distances. However, as the dominating  early speedster at longish odds, he might offer value.

The favorite lacks the early speed to challenge Awesome Banner in the opening furlongs, and Derby hopefuls Zulu and Awesome Speed will be geared toward rationing their speed in preparation for longer distances ahead. Nobody wants to engage in a duel with a topnotch speedster here. That might be enough of an edge for Awesome Banner to prevail at Gulfstream’s shortest 2-turn distance.

The pace will be faster than Mohaymen is accustomed to chasing, but I expect it will be moderate enough for Awesome Banner to survive the slight stretchout. Mohaymen must run faster early than he has in the past, and possibly lose his powerful late kick. Or he must run his usual slow-early style and possibly end up with too much ground to make up. Awesome Banner holds a tactical edge. The question is  whether he has the talent to capitalize on it.

Out of respect for Mohaymen‘s dominance to date and because of uncertainty about Banner‘s ability around 2 turns, I’ll keep the wager small and insist on minimum odds of 5-1 on Awesome Banner.

BETS: At 5-1 or higher odds on Awesome Banner, the following exactas:
$1 Exactas with Awesome Banner over All ($5 total)
$1 Exacta with Awesome Banner over Zulu, Awesome Speed, and Mohaymen ($3 total)
$2 Exacta with Awesome Banner over Mohaymen ($2 total)

CURRENT BANKROLL TOTAL: $1,008

Roger LeBlanc