A trio of great Kentucky Derby preps awaits racing fans this weekend. Here’s the LazyBettor view of the events.

2017 Wood Memorial

Maiden, allowance and minor stakes winners sure can look spectacular. For pace handicappers the Great Unknown with promising young horses is how they’ll react when the early fractions speed up to graded stakes levels.

We have that answer for two of the four Kentucky Derby prospects likely to draw the most betting action in the Wood Memorial. Irish War Cry and Mo Town each contested a stakes-level pace in their most recent outings. And the result wasn’t pretty: stretch fades that put them well out of the money.

Does that lead to large bets on unproven commodities such as Battalion Runner and Cloud Computing? That question might have been answered long ago, in their debut races.

All four horses mentioned ran 1st or 2nd in their debuts. You can assume they ran primarily on raw talent back then. So which of them began their racing careers with greater raw talent? The turn time in each debut race might hold the answer:

Cloud Computing….22.1
B
attalion Runner….22.3
Irish War Cry……..23.1
M
o Town………….23.3

These figures point us to the top raw speed among the group. The next fact to determine is which of these horses can turn it into a winning kick in hotly contested two-turn contest.

Irish War Cry couldn’t withstand the faster pace he encountered in the Fountain of Youth, moving from :24 and :47.4 in the early stages of his victory run in the Holy Bull to :23.2 and :47.0 in the FOY, where he faded badly late. You see Mo Town hitting the same wall when the pace came up about 9 ticks faster in the Risen Star Stakes than in his winning Remsen run.

The slowish turn times of their debuts were a clue that “real fast” was going to be a real problem for these two horses down the road.

I expect the pressures of the Wood to be less debilitating for either Cloud Computing or Battalion Runner than it was for the two fallen heroes they’ll face. My bet will be split between the two, with twice as much on the shorter priced Battalion Runner.

THE BET
$40 Win on Battalion Runner at 8-5 or higher
$20 Win on Cloud Computing

2017 Santa Anita Derby

A ragged group of 13 runners lines up for this year’s Santa Anita Derby. With Bob Baffert’s top gun, Mastery, out of the picture small-stable stars and minor players from major stables get a shot at glory.

Iliad, an accomplished sprinter trained by Doug O’Neill, is the likely favorite. He finished 2nd to Mastery last time out. After pressing an honest stakes pace, he held well for place, although he ended up nearly 7 lengths behind the winner. Given that it was Iliad’s first 2-turn attempt, a late fade is excusable. But the extent of the fade might not be. And odds of approximately even money don’t entice.

I’ll let my money ride on Kimbear now that his connections have figured out he prefers dirt to turf. He stretches out off of a dominating win at 7 furlongs followed by sizzling works. He’s fit and fast and offers a decent return for his backers.

THE BET
$20 Win and Place on Kimbear

2017 Blue Grass Stakes

I see this as a bit of a match race between the undefeated McCraken and Todd Pletcher’s nearly undefeated Tapwrit. Tapwrit owns better early speed and probably will offer slightly better odds. He should be able to track the pace of whichever pretender shoots to the front and get the jump on McCraken.

THE BET
$40 Win on Tapwrit at odds of 8-5 or higher

Roger LeBlanc

Results of LazyBettor.com
Top Picks & Best Bets in
2017 Kentucky Derby Preps

Feb. 4, Holy Bull Stk…..Classic Empire, 3rd
No bet; odds too low.

Feb. 4, Robert Lewis Stk…..Royal Mo, 1st
No bet; odds too low.

Feb. 11, Sam Davis Stk…..King and His Court, 9th
$20 win at 50-1. Loss of $20.

Feb. 11, Sam Davis Stk…..Six Gun Salute, 7th
$6 win at 99-1. Loss of $6.

Feb. 20, Southwest Stk…..Silver Dust (at 8-1+), 4th
No win bet; odds too low (7-1). Loss of $4 on exactas.

Feb. 25, Risen Star Stk…..Local Hero (at 3-1+), 3rd
$20 win at 3-1. Loss of $20.

Mar. 4, FOY Stk…..Irish War Cry (at 2-1+), out
No win bet; odds too low.
Loss of $16 on exactas.

Mar. 11, San Felipe Stk…..Iliad, 2nd
$20 win. Loss of $20.

Mar. 25, Spiral Stk…..King and His Court, out
$20 win & place. Loss of $40.

SEASON TOTALS
$126 wagered. $0 returned
Minus $126