The Guru makes his Kentucky Derby picks

by Ron Gurfein

Because of time constraints I am going with this early, missing the possibility of jockey changes and fabulous final works. If there is a major change in my opinion I will list it in my Ask The Guru column next Friday as well as selections for the Oaks and some other Derby weekend races. My selections only rank the top five the others are listed in order of points earned to get in the starting gate.

1. OMAHA BEACH c.War Front—Charming, $1,121,000, $625,000 Keeneland, Richard Mandella, Mike Smith; Won the Arkansas Derby 4/13 at Oaklawn, 3 bullet works including 6f 110. Won last three starts. Mike Smith’s choice over Roadster, a very good Baffert trainee, tells a story of how good he thinks this colt is. To me, the fastest horse in the race and has the ability to get position early, a must in the bulky field.

2. GAME WINNER c. Candy Ride—Indian Giving, $846,000, $110,000 Keeneland, Bob Baffert, Joel Rosario; 2nd in the Santa Anita Derby 4/6, some good works no bullet sprints. Two-year-old Eclipse Award winner. Lost two tough races in a row, including a horrid ride in the SA Derby where he was three and four wide the entire race in a six-horse field. Would be my top pick but Mike Smith’s decision haunts me.

3. ROADSTER c. Quality Road—Ghost Dancing, $634,000, $525,000 Keeneland Bob Baffert, Florent Geroux; Won the Santa Anita Derby 4/6, no impressive works, Baffert is a genius, Smith deserted, colt’s best may be enough.

4. MAXIMUM SECURITY c. New Years Day—Lil Indy $649,400, Homebred, Jason Service, Luis Saez; Won the Florida Derby 3/30, worst work out record I have ever seen, was the slowest of the day the last three works with 50 or so horses training each day. Was in for a maiden tag of $16,000 first outing. Undefeated in four attempts this very fast colt has very formidable connections.

5. LONG RANGE TODDY c. Take Charge Indy—Pleasant Song $854,459 Homebred, Steve Asmussen, Jon Court; Sixth in the Arkansas Derby 4/13, no fast works, won the Rebel and has speed. Wouldn’t shock me. It would be the first Derby win in 19 attempts by Asmussen and Jon Court would become the oldest jockey to ever win the Derby.

TACITUS c Tapit—Close Hatches, $653,000, Homebred,Bill Mott, Jose Ortiz; Won the Wood 4/6, no impressive works, also won the Tampa Bay Derby. Great pedigree, great connections, needs lifetime best.

VEKOMA c Candy Ride—Mona de Momma, $788,850, $135,000 Keeneland, George Weaver, Javier Castellano; Won the Bluegrass 4/6 no great works, I think he needs more racing.

PLUS QUE PARFAIT r. Point of Entry—Belvedra $1,590,400, $135,000 Keeneland Brendan Walsh, Ricardo Santana Jr.; won the UAE Derby in DuBai, no great works, I don’t think he is fast enough.

BY MY STANDARDS c. Goldencents—A Jealous Woman $653,710, $150,000 Ocala, Bret Calhoun, Gabriel Saez; Won the Louisiana Derby 3/23, two bullet works, colt is on the improve may get a chunk.

CODE OF HONOR c. Noble Mission—Reunited $478,820, Homebred, Shut McGaughey, John Velasquez; Third in the Florida Derby, some nice works, big disappointment in Florida Derby after a stunning win in the Fountain of Youth. Both rider and trainer have been there before but the colt must improve to run with these.

HAIKAL c Daaher—Sablah $373,900 Homebred, Kiaran McLaughlin, Rajiv Maragh ; Third in the Wood Memorial, very good works 4f 47b most recent 4/19, winner of the Gotham earlier must return to that form to be a factor,

IMPROBABLE c City Zip—Rare Event $619,520, $200,000 Keeneland, Bob Baffert, Iraq Ortiz Jr.; Second in the Arkansas Derby, no fancy works, has the speed and the top connections in the sport, must get the perfect journey to beat these.

WAR OF WILL c War Front—Vision of Clarity, $501,569, $298,550 ARQ 2 yr olds, Mark Casse, Tyler Gaffalione; Ninth in the Louisiana Derby, two recent bullet works Won the Risen Star, but just not fast enough.

TAX c Arch—Toll, $326,300, Private Sale, Danny Gargantuas, Junior Alvarado; Second in the Wood Memorial, no fast works, Must improve

CUTTING HUMOR c First Samurai—Pun, $516,967, $400,000 Saratoga, Todd Pletcher, TBA; Won the Sunland Derby 3/24 had two recent bullet works but never raced good horses. Best win was in a grade three event. Look elsewhere.

WIN WIN WIN c Hat Trick—Miss Smarty Pants $367,300, Homebred, Michael Trombetta, Julien Pimentel, second in the Bluegrass some bullet works earlier but didn’t race up to them. Beat cheaper earlier cannot recommend.

COUNTRY HOUSE c Lookin At Lucky—Quake Lake $260,175 Homebred, Bill Mott, TBA; Third in the Arkansas Derby, fair works always near but doesn’t win. Not enough talent for these.

GRAY MAGICIAN c Gradar—Burg Berg, $584,140, $18,000 FT Ky, RNA, Peter Miller, TBA; Decent works hasn’t won since breaking his maiden, not in here.

SPINOFF c Hard Spun—Zaftig, $260,000, Homebred, Todd Pletcher, Manny Franco; Okay works, hasn’t been back of third in four career starts, needs more racing and more speed.

MASTER FENCER c Just A Way (JPN)—Sexy Zamurai , Homebred, Koichi Tsunoda, Julien Laparoux; Works and charts not available but losing four of six starts with no stakes wins at all is enough for me to exclude.

I would be happy to share in any of your successes but I am not responsible for any of your failings. Remember if there are any major changes in my decisions I will post them in my column on Friday.