Video picks for this weekend’s GI’s!

See the boys from “That Handicapping Show” sweat out their picks for the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby!


GI “Apple Blossom” blooms into full view this Friday!

The GI $500,000, “Apple Blossom” Stakes is up this Friday at Oaklawn Park with a field of just 5, 4yo and up Fillies and Mares, going 1 1/16 mile.

Leading this short field at 4/5 is Havre De Grace.  This leader of the ladies handicap division this year appears ready for another big Oaklawn test as her last victory here was a stunner in the GIII Azeri Stakes. She finally defeated Blind Luck (who is not running here on friday) in a graded stakes race on her own terms! So she has to be the clear favorite here and only a bad ride from Eclipse Award winning jockey Ramon Dominguez could ruin this party. So we will go out on a limb here and say she should be first into your boxed exotics!

Shipping in from sunny Southern California way are a pair of top-flight ladies in multiple Graded Stakes winner Switch at 6/5 and recent GI Santa Margarita winner Miss Match at 10/1 . These two tangled in that same Santa Margarita contest where Switch did everything but win that day as Miss Match came on late to nip Switch at the wire. Those two ladies covered the 1 1/8 mile course that day in a very good 1:46  and 4/5. So these fine ladies should be in your exacta, trifecta wagers as there’s no super wagering here in this 5 horse field!

At 15/1 is Belle Watling a chilean import, where she was known as the Zenyatta of South America, well not quite, but she was a big-time multiple group/grade winner down there! She’s had some success in the States with a win and a 3rd in some minor dust-ups here but this will be her first big dance. She is a turf horse by trade and can go the longer distances with ease, so 1 1/16 mile isn’t going to be a problem for her here! Looking for a little foreign-intrigue in your exotics, try her in one of your 50 cent Oaklawn tri’s!

At 10/1 is Absintheminded who finished a decent 3rd here in that GIII Azeri Stakes last month. No, she probably won’t win against this crowd but for another Oaklawn 50 cent’er, put her at the back of a tri.

So what we have in this compact field just might be a B/C Ladies Classic preview, a rematch between the two Santa Margarita foes, a hot senorita from way down under and a up and coming 4yo trying to gain some respect!

What more elements could we add to make this the best “race of the day”, oh, I know how about a $500,000 purse and get mentioned in the same breath with the 2-time winner of this race, Zenyatta!

So Gracie and Switch are logical 1’s and 2’s with the all button filling in your 3rd’s!

It probably won’t payout well as a 5 horse fields are liken to do and any scratches here, well, we all know how that will pay out!

Sounds like a good enough reason to be plugged into this race on Friday!

GI $1 Million “Arkansas Derby” is last of the GI’s “Derby Trail” Preps!

Oaklawn Park scene of the 2011 Arkansas Derby!

The last of this year’s GI “Derby Trail” Prep’s is coming up this Saturday at Oaklawn Park in the Arkansas Derby going 1 1/8 mile! We’ve highlighted the field for you below!

Some thoughts from DRF on this GI!

See Free PP’s! 

Arkansas Derby
Purse: $1 million; 1 1/8 miles; Grade 1

1. Nehro, Corey Nakatani, 5-1
2. Elite Alex, Calvin Borel, 8-1
3. The Factor, Martin Garcia, 7-5
4. Brethren, Ramon Dominguez, 10-1
5. Sway Away, Patrick Valenzuela, 6-1
6. Caleb’s Posse, Eddie Razo, 10-1
7. Truman’s Commander, Israel Ocampo, 30-1
8. Alternation, Luis Quinonez, 10-1
9. Dance City, Javier Castellano, 15-1
10. Archarcharch, Jon Court, 12-1
11. J P’s Gusto, Cliff Berry, 15-1
12. J W Blue, Joe Rocco Jr., 30-1
13. Saratoga Red, Terry Thompson, 30-1

The 7/5 favorite here is The Factor coming out of a surprisingly good performance in the GII Rebel Stakes here last month in a pulling away from the field victory. He should be in your exotics somewhere!

Six other Rebel Stakes finishers are here too in Caleb’s Posse at 10/1 who finished up a strong 2nd that day, Archarcharch at 12/1 finished 3rd, Saratoga Red at 30/1 here finished 4th, J W Blue also at 30/1 here finished 5th, the speedy Sway Away at 6/1 here finished 6th that day and J. P.’s Gusto whose 15/1 here finished way back in 7th that day!

Alternation and Elite Alex were scratches that day and are 10/1 and 8/1 respectively here!

Alternation and Caleb’s Posse may be a paired entry here on Saturday!

The new shooters here are Nehro at 5/1, is the 2nd place finisher in the Louisiana Derby a few Saturdays ago and 2nd choice here on Saturday!

Brethren at 10/1 is here still smarting from his Tampa Bay Derby debacle and in need of some redemption here on Saturday.

Dance City at 15/1 is coming off a big-time allowance win to be here, much like Alternation is!

Bring up the rear is Truman’s Commander at 30/1 is a recent mile maiden winner and should be no factor here on Saturday!

So if The Factor can go 1 1/8 here on Saturday he will be a top Derby favorite on May 7th, if not, than a big pace collapse is coming here, so look for Nehro, Caleb’s Posse, Archarcharch, Alternation, Dance City and whoever has improved over their last very dismal performances will come and get him in the last 1/16. This race is all about whether The Factor can do that front running act of his for 1 1/8 mile and our guess is he can’t!

It has been a very tough Derby Trail so far with long shots and maiden’s having their way in almost all of them. So box everything you do, spread the risk around to as many different runners as makes sense to you in dime supers and hope you can hit it right!

 This one has that same upset feel to it, as someone with long odds has a very good chance of a surprise win here!

So Oaklawn Park makes its final contribution to the “Derby Trail” here Saturday with the Arkansas Derby and maybe 2, 3 or 4 of these starters can make it to Louisville on the first Saturday of May after their efforts in this contest.

So the GI portion of the “Derby Trail” will be in the books here on Saturday and we’ll give that descriptor a rest until the 2012″ Derby Trail” starts up in earnest early next year.

From here on out we are on the “Triple Crown Trail”!

First stop is Louisville, Churchill Downs and the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby in just 3 more Saturdays now!

Trainer “Rick Dutrow” Denied Licensing to race in Kentucky!

Trainer Rick Dutrow (seen here) was denied a racing license by the Licensing Review Committee of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission today!

This means all of his horses can’t run  in the State of Kentucky! So he will have to scratch, Court Vision from the Maker Mark mile on Friday, Amen Hallelujah in Thursday’s Vinery Madison Stakes both at Keeneland!

 This also means his prize 3yo and possible Kentucky Derby bound star in Flashpoint can’t run here either!

So Flashpoint comes off the list of possible derby runners as this list keeps getting shorter and shorter!