Hot List: Triple Crown analysis

April, 4, 2013
This weekend's races: Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wood Memorial, Aqueduct

(No. 5) VYJACK (A) earned an A List rating last time in a highly impressive victory in the Gotham over Aqueduct's inner track. On a day when inside speed dominated, he broke slowly and was 4-5 wide on the first turn and then moved up slightly on the backside. Was put to a drive at the 5/16ths pole and swung 5-wide to rally furiously and win going away, overcoming the bias. It's difficult to pick against him after an eye-opening effort like that one. (2) NORMANDY INVASION needs a first or second to wrap up a spot in the Kentucky Derby and should get it here. Was an impressive second in the Remsen at Aqueduct last year and has trained sharply since finishing a troubled 5th in the Risen Star. With so much on the line, he'll definitely be cranked up for a peak effort. (8) VERRAZANO is the 4-5 favorite and may very well dominate this field. Then again, this represents his first test against bona fide Derby contenders, so what's the appeal in chasing an odds-on payoff? Hey, even Secretariat lost in the Wood. (4) ELNAAWI (B) was credited with a B for his effort in the Gotham. He was forced 3-wide on the first turn and was a little rank on the backstretch. Moved up a bit on the turn while still wide and after getting squeezed a bit at the eighth pole he kept battling and grabbed the show spot. All this came off a 7-week freshening so he can only get better. The top 3 look highly formidable, but if there's an outsider in the race, it's him.

Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita

(6) SUPER NINETY NINE tossed in a clunker as he faded in the stretch and finished 5th in the Rebel. He was a powerful winner in his last start at Santa Anita and his recent workouts indicate trainer Bob Baffert has him primed for a rebound effort. (1) FLASHBACK was second as an even-money favorite in the San Felipe and figures to be either on or extremely close to the lead from the rail. Can he hang on at a mile and an eighth? That's the key question. (4) TIZ A MINISTER was also closing quickly in the San Felipe. The added distance should help his cause, though jockey Garrett Gomez hopped off him to ride Flashback. (3) Power Broker hasn't raced since disappointing in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Before that he was a decisive Grade 1 winner at Santa Anita, and if Baffert has him ready he could register an a highly opportune time.

Last weekend's races

Florida Derby

Orb might well emerge as the favorite on the first Saturday in May. We'll see. He showed the type of closing kick that bodes well for his ability to handle a mile and a quarter. He might have received an A except the time wasn't spectacular. In fact, his clocking for a mile and an eighth of 1:50.87 wasn't even the fastest by a 3-year-old on the card. That distinction went to the filly Dreaming of Julia who captured the Gulfstream Oaks by nearly 22 lengths in 1:48.97. He's a definitely a main contender for the Derby; just not sure if he'll be the No. 1 contender on May 4. So we'll assign him a B and plan on using him in the exotics in some manner.

Louisiana Derby

Revolutionary was highly impressive in his previous start, finding running room late to take the Withers. Here he avoided a traffic snarl by going wide on the final turn, but the ground loss he overcame added some luster to his victorious effort. Also gave thumbs-up to the way he fought off a late bid by Mylute after surging to the front in the stretch. Really like the seasoning he's gained in his last two starts, and will put him on the A List as a key Derby play.

Don't bother looking for Palace Malice in the Derby, but follow him in his next start. He was moving up nicely along the rail when he ran into a wall of horses at the top of the stretch and was checked hard, losing all chance. He wound up seventh up but should have been much closer and deserves play next time as a B List selection.

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Hot List Key

A List: A preferred horse to watch
B List: Secondary horse to watch
*C List: Went down 2 or more betting notches and finished 1st through 3rd
*D List: Went down 2 or more betting notches and finished 4th or worse
* - 4 or more betting notches if 11-1 or more.

Do you have questions? Email Bob at

• Bob Ehalt grew up a few furlongs from Belmont Park and has followed horse racing as a fan, turf writer or owner since 1971.
• Has won three Associated Press Sports Editors awards and was the recipient of the '09 Breeders' Cup media award for outstanding social media.



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