Ed DeRosa of Brisnet.com takes on TDN's Steve Sherack and Brian DiDonato as they handicap Triple Crown prep races plus the big three races themselves. The three will make $100 Win/Place bets in the preps and $200 Win/Place bets in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. Highest bankroll at the end wins.
DeRosa – Last Week – Ajaaweed was far back early and finished third in the GIII Sam F. Davis S. at Tampa. Bankroll: $1195.
GII Risen Star S. (1st Div) – At 12-1, I'm willing to give Scabbard a mulligan for the GIII Lecomte. He was just kind of one paced off the layoff, but did keep up and should improve off that effort. He's still in the conversation for fastest horse in this race, and the price will be right with so many abandoning ship. Selection: #11 Scabbard (12-1).
GII Risen Star S. (2nd Div) – In division two, I'm giving a look to last year's Louisiana Derby-winning connections. We won't get the 20-1 By My Standards was, but Mailman Money intrigues off his first two–improving off the shocker on debut to run off the screen in his allowance prep for this. Lots of exciting upside with Anneau d'Or, but too short to back here. Selection: #11 Mailman Money (8-1).
El Camino Real Derby – I will bet trainer Blaine Wright to win a race this weekend, as his barn's Ajourneytofreedom looks dangerous at 12-1 morning-line odds in the El Camino Real Derby. One thing is for sure, I'm against the favorite Azul Coast, so hopefully I land on the right price. Selection: #8 Ajourneytofreedom (12-1).
Sherack – Last Week – Premier Star got hooked and cooked, tiring to finish a well-beaten sixth. Bankroll: $1195.
GII Risen Star S. (1st Div) – Silver State has run very well in all three of his career starts despite encountering some bad luck at the break. He recovered nicely after bobbling/getting bumped at the start in the GIII Lecomte, and gamely fought his way through traffic in the stretch to place a very good second while making his two-turn debut. More distance the better for this well-bred Hard Spun colt from the family of Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos. Also interested in Moon Over Miami at a price for the gimmicks. Selection: #2 Silver State (4-1).
GII Risen Star S. (2nd Div) – Major Fed gained valuable racing experience reporting home a well-beaten third behind the talented Gold Street sprinting in the Churchill slop on debut, then earned his diploma like a serious racehorse, finishing up full of run with first-time blinkers stretching to two turns over this course on New Year's Day. Expecting this promising son of Ghostzapper to take another step forward in this ambitious spot at third asking. Selection: #7 Major Fed (10-1).
El Camino Real Derby – Indian Peak was visually impressive enough in his two most recent wins going a mile at Golden Gate–breaking his maiden over the lawn with an impossibly wide trip Nov. 23 and clearing his first condition two starts later over the synthetic Dec. 27–to forgive his last out seventh-place finish over the Santa Anita dirt in the California Cup Derby. He's well-drawn on the rail and has been working lights out for this. Selection: #1 Indian Peak (7-2).
DiDonato – Last Week – My concerns about Ajaaweed proved warranted–he just found himself way too far back. Maybe he's a Belmont horse. Bankroll: $1285.
GII Risen Star S. (1st Div) – My first inclination was to take Mr. Monomoy here given how well he ran chasing a hot pace in the GIII Lecomte, but it looks like they could go quickly again early here over a longer distance. Instead I'll take a flyer on Moon Over Miami, whose maiden breaker was very good. He was very flat last time in a Gulfstream allowance, but he got hung very wide on the first turn and from there he just never looked like he could win. He's got the right running style and should have no trouble with the trip. Bill Mott sent the similarly lightly raced Country House to finish second in this race 12 months ago. Selection: #5 Moon Over Miami (10-1).
GII Risen Star S. (2nd Div) – Anneau d'Or is my current best hope to cash a Derby future, but he'll be overbet here. I bet way too much on Lynn's Map last time despite knowing that he was probably up against it from a dynamics perspective in the Smarty Jones S, and he found himself doing the dirty work early before fading to fifth. I'm willing to excuse that effort–I was at Oaklawn for both morning training and the races that day, and it was a weird track after a couple days of on-and-off rain. I really liked Lynn's Map's effort when he beat the aforementioned Mr. Monomoy two back, and he feels like a true nine-furlong grindy type. Selection: #9 Lynn's Map (10-1).
El Camino Real Derby – My initial inclination was to play against Azul Coast on the switch to synthetic, but his dam was a multiple winner and graded-placed on all-weather (also a GSW on turf), and she's a half to the synth SW/turf GSW Surgical Strikel and to the turf SP dam of Chapalu, last year's GIII Grey S. winner over Woodbine's Tapeta. Baffert rarely ships to San Francisco, but won two stakes here in 2019, and finished second in this race with a horse whose form looked pretty similar to Azul Coast's. Selection: #9 Azul Coast (2-1).