A trio of Triple Crown Contenders will take big steps
towards entering the chase for the nearly mythical achievement. Winners of the
Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita and the Tampa
Bay Derby at... well, Tampa Bay Downs, of course. He who wears the crown at the end of the three
Derby qualifying races receives 50 points. Since moving the new system in
2013, the 50-point milestone has been enough to make Churchill reservations for
the first Saturday in May, excluding the COVID detour.
HRR Reporter Frisco Bash does a great job previewing Saturday's
heavyweight KD qualifiers, the Gotham
Stakes and the Tampa
Bay Derby. That leaves the San
Felipe Stakes for us to analyze. Essentially, it comes down to one question.
Can any of the other horses beat the 4/5 morning line favorite LIFE IS GOOD
Before we look at a few other horses and reasons they might
beat the chalk, let's first find some holes and find reasons LIFE IS GOOD might
lose. Last time out, he backed up a little late and almost let MEDINA SPIRIT
(PP: 3 ML 7/2) run him down at the wire. That race was 1 mile on Santa Anita's
main track, today is 1 1/16 miles. Adding runway could be the
difference this time' although, it looked like jockey Mike Smith let up late on
LIFE IS GOOD when watching the race live.
Saturday's run will be his first race after a layoff. Sometimes,
young horses don't respond in the first race back to work following a stint in
the barn. It's a new experience after all. However, thoughts of a dull effort
off the bench are tempered by a series of strong workouts, including two
bullets in the last four training sessions.
LIFE IS GOOD has the rail, post position. It's the first
time he'll be outfitted in the red 1, which has only won once in 10 at the
distance. And finally, he's going to have plenty of company on the front and
might not have the lead for the first time in his early career. At times, young
frontrunners can get discouraged when they aren't on the lead from the jump.
Which horses have the best chance to take advantage of the
opportunity if any of the four possibilities outlined above come to pass.
Let's start with MEDINA'S SPIRIT. As we mentioned up top, he
almost caught the heavy favorite in the Grade III, Sham Stakes at 1 mile. It's
all about the extra sixteenth of a mile and Mike Smith eased up on his horse in
the Sham or did LIFE IS GOOD tire?
If any horse is going to beat LIFE IS GOOD to the first
turn, it's THE GREAT ONE (PP: 5 ML 4-1). He smokes a short field of four by 14
lengths in his last start, finally breaking his maiden in the fifth attempt. He
won going 1 mile on fast Santa Anita dirt in 1:37 and 1, a half horse length
slower than LIFE IS GOOD's Sham score. However, along the way, THE GREAT ONE
put in faster quarter and half-mile times. We'll see how much fight trainer Bob
Baffert's LIFE IS GOOD has in him if he's not the rabbit.
Jockey Sith has to be careful not to get into an overheated
pace trying to find the front versus the others with quick first steps out of
the gate. An opening quarter under 22 seconds would fling the stretch wide open
for a pair of late comers, DREAM SHAKE (PP: 2 ML 5-1) and ROMAN CENTURIAN (PP:
7 ML 8-1).
Terry from the Player's
Edge Podcast picks ROMAN CENTURIAN as his choice to collect San Felipe's 50
Derby points. We tilt towards DREAM SHAKE having the best closer's chance as he
put up the top, late pace figure for the group in his debut. Now he gets
another 1 ½ furlongs to work with and should be better in his second career
Get today's full picks for all tracks and races at Guaranteed Tip Sheet.