The Turk took his time before writing this post. I'd like to tell you it is because these races, the Lane's End Stakes in particular, were such important races with such great implications to the Derby Trail that I had to make sure I analyzed it completely.
Well, that would be a lie. I feel like a broken record, as after most Derby preps I'm asking the same question: Is this parity and the signs of a very deep 3 YO class OR mediocrity where people would prefer to place hopes with Dunkirk then on the colts that have actually been competing in graded stake races?
I won't try to answer that question. The past performances, and not written hype, should be the basis of Derby contender lists. I'll take raw video on YOUTUBE any day to help me analyze the 401 Triple Crown nominees instead of talking heads on SAT TV. The Turk's red flair pen is working overtime, but as any honest handicapper will attest, some results just fly in the face of logic, and that's why they race on dirt (or that stuff that masquerades as dirt and contributes to soft tissue injuries) and not paper.
Race 10 at Turfway Park: The Lane's End Stakes Grade II; 1 1/8 miles on synthetic for 3 YOs.
I could have handicapped this race ten times and I wouldn't have picked Hold Me Back. Post Race on ESPN, they prattled about him posting bullets (true, but with small numbers of horses and not eye popping times) and Mott's stats with horses off of long layoffs (20% out of 95 races which is good except compared to Trainer Kiran Mclaughlin's gaudy 25% after 257 races). About the only thing the Turk saw that made sense was the second grouping of Proceed Bee/Parade Clown and Jack Spratt being bunched up in the second tier. West Side Bernie and Bittel Road join many other Triple Crown nominees who haven't stepped up when the moment was theirs to seize. Dynamite Bob was one of the only horses that got the memo and finished where he should have.
Race 7 at Santa Anita Park: The San Luis Handicap Grade II; 1 1/2 miles on Turf for 4 YO and up.
I was worried prerace that if a few horses scratched, that this smallish field would equal a ho-hum race to handicap and watch. I wasn't wrong. I did feel good about Spring House and I hope he is OK after being vanned off (I sometimes hesitate to find out...but I will). I wasn't surprised by Frankel's trainee, the only 4YO and the horse seemingly with the freshest legs going into the race.
Luckily in horse racing, if you have a dud weekend, there is always another opportunity soon. We'll be back next weekend with some more compelling races.