Friday, March 30, 2012

Florida Derby: Union Rags vs. El Padrino

The roster of Florida Derby winners who made an impact on the Triple Crown races reads like a who’s who of racing. In the last eleven years, six winners or runners up in the Florida Derby won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness or Belmont Stakes. Monarchos and Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby, Big Brown won the Derby and Preakness, Empire Maker won the Belmont, and Shackleford, second place in last year’s Florida Derby, won the Preakness. Additionally, 2010 Florida Derby champ Ice Box was second in the Kentucky Derby.

UnionRagsPhotoCoglinese1This year, the heralded trainer of the courageous Barbaro is back with the sensational Union Rags, who is the morning line 6-5 favorite to win the Florida Derby. Similar to all except one of his races, UNION RAGS (Dixie Union - Tempo, by Gone West) laughed at his competition in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, winning under wraps. His nearest competitor, News Pending, was four lengths back in second.

ElPadrino PhotoCoglineseThe stiffest challenge to Union Rags’ supremacy is expected to come from the Risen Star hero, EL PADRINO (Pulpit - Enchanted Rock, by Giant's Causeway). This colt is just as large as Union Rags and proved that he won’t back down from a fight. El Padrino’s female family is loaded with talented stars and the mares of this distaff line are excellent producers.

NewsPendingPhotoColignieseRajiv Maragh jumps back aboard NEWS PENDING (Harlan's Holiday - Motivated Sreva, by Lear Fan), who was a distant second to Union Rags in the Fountain of Youth. News Pending’s speed figures have been improving in every race and he can be placed anywhere in the race and still make his run. His sire won the Florida Derby and News Pending’s dam won up to 1 1/8 miles. The colt should receive a decent inside trip.

ReveronREVERON (Songandaprayer - Carolina Sunrise, by Awesome Again) takes the blinkers off for the Florida Derby after he was out gamed in the Sam Davis Stakes by 1 ½ lengths. The Calder shipper has a speed over stamina pedigree. The progeny of Songandaprayer are distance challenged and none have won a stakes race at 1 1/8 miles. The Bezera barn is 0 for 3 with the blinkers off angle.

TakeChargeIndyTAKE CHARGE INDY (A.P. Indy - Take Charge Lady, by Dehere) was inhaled by Risen Star hero El Padrino in their three year old debut and finished second beaten two lengths. He missed a work before the Tampa Bay Derby and whatever his trainer’s reasons, they skipped the race. Take Charge Indy’s dam Take Charge Lady is a multiple Grade 1 veteran who won the Spinster (twice), Ashland, Arlington Matron, and placed in the Kentucky Oaks. Take Charge Indy should be ready to roll, but trainer Patrick Byrne is 0 for 23 with horses off a layoff and 0 for 6 in graded stakes.

NeckNNeckNECK 'N NECK (Flower Alley - Bootery, by Storm Boot) has been no match for Discreet Dancer or Reveron this year. Neck N’ Neck has no notable blacktype in two generations of his distaff line. He found some trouble in the Fountain of Youth, but finished a steady, non-threatening fourth. He appears to be a late maturing colt, and has been recording some high late pace speed figures. That along with his pedigree and running style indicates that he should handle 1 1/8 miles.

fort-loudon Photo Jim LisaFORT LOUDON (Awesome of Course - Lottsa Talc, by Talc) has proven repeatedly that he is a cut below the graded stakes runners at this point in his career. He’s a nice Florida bred from a good family and always tries hard.

BARTOLOME (Toccet - Competition, by Dixie Union) finished in another zip code behind El Padrino and Take Charge Indy in an optional claimer. A race later he was no threat to Heavy Breathing, who came back to finish third in the Spiral. There’s no notable blacktype in his distaff line and Bartolome may find 1 1/8 miles at the top of his comfort zone.

Z CAMELOT ( Smart Strike - Madame Thor, by Deputy Minister) is still a maiden after four starts. His half-brother is stakes placed over dirt, but Z Camelot’s dam is a half-sister to the stakes winning turfer Dynazapper. Z Camelot has the pedigree to do well over the turf. Hopefully, he won’t mug Union Rags coming out of the gate or during the race.



Track bias: Speed rules at Gulfstream and outside posts guarantee a wide trip at 1 1/8 miles. Pace pressers win 38% of the races. One run types are at a disadvantage and are successful only 8% of the time.

So far, UNION RAGS has done everything right. So has EL PADRINO, but EL PADRINO is coming off of a tough race where he had to ship, and has a slight post disadvantage. REVERON is hindered by an outside post, distance limited pedigree and his so-so performance against lesser horses. NEWS PENDING appears a logical choice to finish in the money. He’s been improving at the right time. TAKE CHARGE INDY runs very quick early pace figures, but his late pace leaves something to be desired. He has enough class to finish in the money, but I see him being passed in the stretch like he’s tied to the rail. NECK N’ NECK is worth a longshot look to complete the tri or super at long odds.




#4 NECK N’ NECK – Longshot

Check out the Louisiana Derby pedigrees and selections at the main IMT WEBSITE