There are four major contenders in this San Felipe, which should have significant ramifications for the Kentucky Derby. Two of Bob Baffert’s top Derby prospects will be in action, last year’s champion Storm the Court makes his second start off a layoff, and the popular Honor A. P. also returns following an impressive maiden score last fall.
Authentic (#4) is likely to take more money that his Baffert-trained mate and could be the favorite. If that’s the case, I want to take a shot against this horse. He’s just gotten perfect setups in both career starts. He stalked a slow pace in his sprint debut at Del Mar and then had al the best of it on the front end in the Sham last time. Some will point to the fact that he was so green in the late stages of that race as evidence that he can run faster with a more professional effort. Perhaps that’s true, but any improvement may be mitigated by the fact that he’s facing a much tougher field this time and could have to endure some early pace pressure.
Thousand Words (#5) just looks far more appealing to me. He’s run fast races in all three career starts, and he’s coming off a solid performance in the Robert B. Lewis last time. He’s not as flashy as his stablemate, but he always seems to run his race and he’s already proven that he has no trouble handling this 1 1/16 miles distance. In my opinion, he’s the horse to beat.
I’m a fan of Honor A. P. (#2), but I’m not sure this is the day to take him from a wagering standpoint. He’s developed a following, which is no surprise given his resemblance to his sire Honor Code. Like his sire, he closed from out of the clouds in his debut, but he did well to show far more speed second time out, leading from gate to wire. He earned an impressive 108 TimeformUS Speed Figure that day and may now be on par with his rivals with routine improvement and maturity.
I’ll use all of three of these runners, but I think the public may overlook my top pick STORM THE COURT (#6). It seems odd to say that an Eclipse Award champion is underrated, but I think many are writing this horse off prematurely. While he finished off the board in the San Vicente last time, that was designed to be a prep race, and he still earned a respectable 112 TimeformUS Speed Figure in defeat. He figures to improve on the stretch-out. As surprising as it may have been, he did put forth a legitimately strong effort to win the Breeders’ Cup last year over this course and distance. I liked what I saw in his recent workout and I’m not too disappointed at the rider switch, considering that he picks up Joel Rosario.
Exacta Key Box: 6 with 2,4,5
Trifecta: 6 with 2,5 with 2,4,5
Trifecta: 2,5 with 6 with 2,4,5