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Kentucky Derby and Horse Racing at The Downey Profile®

The Big Gray Prevails in Illinois Derby

4/7/2011

By Greg “The Commish” Johnson
The Downey Profile

Posted April 7, 2011


Watch Me Go headlines this rather lackluster edition of the Grade III Illinois Derby, and the show dough might just be enough to get him in the Derby gates on May 7. But a trio of almost contenders will have something to say about the outcome, including the big gray horse on the outside.

I am usually a bit gun shy when it comes to playing a horse in his next race that eased in his last. But I have to tell you all, they seem to beat me all the time. El Grayling has some good early zip, and after being jostled at the start in the Grade II Fountain of Youth, he was rushed up into early contention and was done after a mile. This son of El Prado is obviously bred to go long, and he has run against some legitimate Derby contenders this year. A repeat of his Feb. 5 allowance race at this distance against Shackleford looks to be enough to get the nod here.

Watch Me Go ran a bang-up race in the Grade II Tampa Bay Derby, albeit in a grueling stretch run against a claimer after passing the Todd Pletcher trained Brethren, who simply didn’t fire that day. He boasts four career wins at four different distances but has never won back-to-back races at any level. He’s run a couple of clunkers in the past the first time he ran on a new, different track. I’m not completely sold on him in here, and will take a stance against.

The Fed Eased got his first taste of two turns in the Grade III Gotham behind Stay Thirsty, and he faded to fifth after being on the lead as they hit the top of the stretch. He’s been training well for this next graded stakes race, and it looks like his game plan is to take this thing gate to wire. It's not an impossible task, but some early and late pressure up front might again have this guy looking for more late that just isn’t there.

Sour is an interesting sort, coming off a couple of good efforts at Fair Grounds. He’s never been worse than second in his three race career, and is on the improve as well. There is some rain forecast for Friday, which moves this son of Lemon Drop Kid’s chances up greatly. Not an impossible task, if not the whole sha-bang.

How about a longshot? Zoebear is still a maiden, but he has been consistent in his five-race career, with his two best Beyer Speed Figures coming on off tracks and at two turns.  He has a bullet workout coming into this, and this son of Bellamy Road looks like one to consider underneath, especially if the going is wet.

Todd Pletcher brings his charge Joe Vann over from Laurel Park after back-to-back wins against much weaker. I have to think his connections are saying, “why not” to giving him a shot at this level, but geez, those times are really slow. Slow enough to wonder how Mr. Beyer could actually throw out figures like that. He will really need to pick it up to stay with some of these, and I’m going to have to pass.

The rest I think we can just lump into one category, similar to that of maybe a 25k claimer on the undercard--and call them also-rans in this dance.

PICKS FROM THE COMMISH:

1. EL GRAYLING
2. SOUR
3. WATCH ME GO
4. ZOEBEAR


Spring is in the air coast to coast on the Derby Trail, so let’s get out there and tag a few of these! When all is said and done this Saturday, many of us may very well, finally, have the answer we’re looking for. GOT YOUR WINNER YET?

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