|Girvin: Amanda Hodges Weir/Weir Photography|
That good looking fella to the left is Girvin, winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star in late February at this racetrack, Fair Grounds. To my long time readers, you'll know that The Turk doesn't really care at all about two year old racing, and I don't really spend much time thinking about these horses on the Derby trail, like the seven in this field of nine that are Triple Crown eligible. Am I a curmudgeon or some anti-social horse racing purist? Not at all, I'm just a guy who likes a Past Performance sheet to be filled with data, data from 10+ career starts after the age of 3. I like history, I like video, I'm not that partial to talking about things that I have no clue about, like pedigree analysis. I also don't care for horse racing journalism about the horses. Again, nothing against the good writers, but I get sucked into the feel good stories, the underdog stories, the can't miss stories, and that bias throws me off as a handicapper. This is my Sudoku, my game of Chess, and I try to keep the bias out and the data heavy.
So, where do I start when looking at a Derby prep race? The same place I always start, with the weather and the track condition and tote board. Things can change rapidly with the weather here but it appears Friday and Saturday will be mostly rain free and for now we will assume a fast dirt route.
Let's also take a look at last year's LA Derby G2 and Gun Runner.
And this year's Risen Star at 1 1/16 on fast dirt with Local Hero/3, Guest Suite/6, Sorry Erik/7 and Girvin/8 returning in this match.
Trainer Joe Sharp and Brian Hernandez, up, look like they have prepared a very professional Girvin. I also liked Guest Suite who didn't have a great trip but was really coming late wide and I would expect more of the same from Local Hero, lots of speed, but can he carry it? Sorry Erik should be a non factor.
Let's get it on!
When I look at the scant past performance data on Girvin and Guest Suite (9 races between them: 5 wins, 1 place and 2 Shows) I see the Class of the race. Monaco, a $1.3 Million dollar Uncle Mo purchase at the Spring 2016 sale is very lightly raced, works rather consistently, but hasn't done anything yet, while $0.5 Million dollar purchase Local Hero has enough speed that he will be a factor in his races. Money doesn't buy you happiness or race results, just promise. It's still very early in the development of these race horses, but The Turk likes horses that have done it before, not just thinking about doing it.
Girvin has been on the shelf and training at Fair Grounds since winning the Risen Star and gamely coming up just short in a 1 Mile Turf race at Fair Grounds in early February. He appears to have been genetically born to rate. I could ramble some more but just watch the Risen Star video above, you'll see a nice late turn afoot and a confident ride by Hernandez. I've always liked the second/third tier Jock Hernandez, the 2004 apprentice jockey of the year. Maybe his career goes a bit more high profile if he doesn't lose the Rachel Alexandra mount to Calvin Borel.
Being contrarian in nature, I like Guest Suite in the win spot. The gelded son of Turk favorite Quality Road, he trains fast, his Beyer's are increasing, and with the extra distance he may be able to collar Girvin.
Patch, a very lightly raced Calumet Farms runner for Todd Pletcher, comes in off a fast one turn affair. Local Hero, a fast Hard Spun/Liam's Dream creation, will be near the front and the only real question for me is how far does he carry and can he hold on for a minor prize.
Rounding out my contenders for Show and Exotic are Senior Investment and Hollywood Handsome. Senior Investment is a bit slow but rating really well and will be coming late. Minor prize possible. Hollywood Handsome has been training very sharply at Fair Grounds and also has shown a late turn of foot.
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this yet. I think I'll be looking at something like:
a $2 Trifecta of 6/8 OVER 6/8 OVER 1/3/4/2 would cost $16.
Whatever you do, have fun with it and bet responsibly.