Peter Fornatale Blog

It's the last weekend for horses to earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby; with Peter Fornatale previewing the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn and the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.

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It’s the last weekend for horses to earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby and by next week, we should have a pretty good idea of who will be lining up for the Run for the Roses and some idea of what their prices might be on the day.  

The biggest question heading into this weekend is who will be the Derby favourite? Right now, the two-year-old champion, Essential Quality, is in that spot, but it feels very likely that a horse running at Oaklawn Park this weekend could usurp that spot.

I’m alluding to #5 CONCERT TOUR who goes out in the Arkansas Derby at 12:41 am in the early hours of Sunday morning. If you made me wager on the race at current prices, I’d pick him at 4-9, though it’s not the type of value that gets me wanting to jump out of my chair and reach into my pocket.  

Concert Tour is simply the fastest horse in the race and I find it tough to make a case for his competition.

It is worth a moment talking about Caddo River, who re-opposes from the Rebel, the key prep for this. Caddo River was drawn inside of Concert Tour there, as he is once again today. On that occasion, it appeared that Florent Geroux wanted the lead, quickly realized he wasn’t going to get the lead from Concert Tour, and went to plan ‘B’—getting outside the jolly and trying to stalk and pounce.

Plan B was no good—Caddo resented the restraint and didn’t fire his best spot.  

One would think that this time around he’ll be hell bent on grabbing the lead, no matter what. Could this be the difference maker? I’m concerned that whatever clicked in Geroux’s mind in that split second last time when he went to Plan ‘B’ means that maybe Caddo River just doesn’t have the same early foot as his rival. He likely would have been in real trouble had he been sent last time and he might be in real trouble again in this spot.  

One thing aggressive tactics from Caddo River will do is give Concert Tour a real test, something I’d like to see before the Big Derby. The play is just a token win wager on Concert Tour for now.  

The other Derby prep this weekend is of much less significance, but it’s part of a great cared at Keeneland on Saturday that will be viewable live on Sky Sports Racing. The Lexington Stakes is Race 9 and should jump at 10:30.  

There is an interesting rick between the morning line price (6-5) and the actual odds (5-2) on #7 PROXY that early birds might be able to take advantage of.

On figures, the race does look more competitive than the 6-5 price suggests but it must be noted that two of the “figure” horses are sprinters going long for the first time.

You also have a California shipper in Bezos – trained by Bob Baffert – who I am guessing is going to show early speed (he’ll catch some money but can’t win based on the glacial figure of the maiden win). This should set things up perfectly for the battle-tested, fast and classy Proxy. I’ll be backing him.  

Should his price crater, say even money or shorter, it may pay to get creative. #9 King Fury could be an interesting alternative if you project in improvement for the time he’s been away from the races. He’s sat and passed horses before and should be a double-figure price.

Peter Fornatale Blog
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