It’s a Wild West showdown! The West Coast’s feature race for 3-year-olds this week drew 4 graded stakes winners. Among them are the top Kentucky Derby prospects for the winning trainers of the past two Kentucky Derbies, Bob Baffert and Doug O’Neill. John Shirrefs, a third trainer with a Kentucky Derby win in his pocket, also sends his top prospect postward. Using recent trainer patterns as a guide might shed some light on this affair.

Mr. Baffert likes to give his best 3-year-old a warmup at Santa Anita before blasting him through a top effort in his second race out, often at Oaklawn Park. That appears to be his plan for Mastery, the 6-5 morning line favorite. Against a weaker field, we could count on Baffert’s horse winning while coming off the bench at 90%. I’ll bet he comes up short against this bunch, though.

Doug O’Neill favors a sprint prep before asking for the big punch from his best horse. Iliad (5-2) fits that pattern, as he comes off a sparkling win in the Grade 2 San Vicente at 7 furlongs. I expect something close to his top effort here. As third choice, he also offers decent value.

The other sharp horse is Shirref’s Gormley. He exits a narrow win in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes. His recent works suggest a move forward is likely. However, his 9-5 morning line odds aren’t enticing.

$20 Win on Iliad

Roger LeBlanc

Results of
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.

$66 wagered. $0 returned
Minus $66.