2014 Hollywood Derby Picks Plus Extra Weekend Horse Racing Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 11/25/2014
In the minds of many horse racing fans - including the most casual ones - the Breeders' Cup at the end of October marks the end of the horse racing year. While that is sometimes this case, this year we are set to enjoy a smorgasbord of great - and important - races here at the end of November. More than one year-end championship could be on the line here - or at least these results could make things really interesting. What is great about what is being offered is that the three biggest races take part in three distinct parts of the country - San Diego, New York and Louisville. Here's how the races shape up:
Hollywood Derby, Saturday, Del Mar
There are a couple of other intriguing horses in this small field of three year olds running a mile and an eighth on turf, but only two really matter.
The first is one that needs little introduction. Fresh off of a third-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic, Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner California Chrome is making a somewhat unexpected return to racing here. I expected him to be rested for the remainder of the year like his biggest rivals are after that race, but he is apparently fit and ready to go, so his connections picked this unlikely spot. It's unlikely in that until Sunday the horse had never even worked on turf, never mind raced on it. He got a timed work on that day, but it indicated little - he ran alone, he wasn't wearing blinkers, and the inside portion of the track couldn't be used. He looked comfortable enough, but how that translates to a race on the new surface is an unknown. It's also unknown why he is being run here. The biggest motivation seems to be a shot an Eclipse Award. Right now he likely isn't a favorite in either category he could win, but an eye-opening win here could help at least his three year old champion case. After a loss in the Belmont, a horrible loss in his return from a layoff, and a pretty underwhelming third in the Classic, he needs to do something to prove that he is still a serious contender. His connections are eyeing an ambitious schedule next year that could see him run in Dubai and perhaps Ascot, but he needs to show he is up to the challenge. Still, this spot seems like an unnecessary risk for the horse at this point.
The second major talent in this race is Lexie Lou, the winner of the Queen's Plate - Canada's equivalent of the Kentucky Derby. Not only is a showdown between the winners of these races rare, but Lexie Lou is a filly. She beat the boys then, and has more experience on turf than Chrome. Trainer Mark Casse is also off to a hot start at Del Mar this fall.
I have been playing against California Chrome for so many races in a row now that I can hardly change now. I don't doubt he could like the turf, but it is far from certain - and the public is going to bet him down ridiculously. Besides, I'm a Canadian, so I pretty much have to back the champion Canadian bred filly. Lexie Lou is my pick here.
Cigar Mile, Saturday, Aqueduct
We're expecting to see nine for the Cigar Mile. The biggest name is Secret Circle. Trained by three-time winner of this race Bob Baffert, the 2013 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner came up just short with a second-place effort in that race this year. He is very lightly raced this year, though, so he should be in top form off of that effort. He worked very well in California on Monday before his Tuesday flight. The distance is a bit of a concern since he hasn't run more than six furlongs since he was three, but he was successful over longer distances in the spring of his three year old year, so this shouldn't be a real factor. The price isn't going to be great, but he's tough to beat, and he'll be my pick. I'll look at the exotics to draw better value out of the situation - perhaps using him as a single in multi-race bets.
In this field of nine horses, I don't want to suggest that it will be a cakewalk for him. Regally Ready won a Breeders' Cup race - albeit in 2011 - and Itsmyluckyday and Private Zone are grade one winners. A lot of things could happen, but I'm sticking with Secret Circle here - and only partly to get the money back that he cost me at the Breeders' Cup.
Clark Handicap, Friday, Churchill Downs
There are nine horses entered here as well, and like the Cigar Mile there are plenty of intriguing entries - horses like Constitution, Prayer For Relief and Departing that have had some big days. As soon as news about this race emerged, though, I have been drawn to just one horse - Hoppertunity. I was very excited to bet the Santa Anita Derby runner-up in the Kentucky Derby this year, but he was withdrawn in the days leading up to it with a foot injury. Now we have another chance to back him on the Churchill oval. He was off after the Derby all the way until Oct. 29 when he ran second in a seven-furlong allowance race that he obviously wasn't sent out to win unless it fell into his lap. The gain in distance could be a lot to ask, but he'll be fresh, he likes to run further than seven furlongs, and he just oozes class. It may not be the best betting decision I'll make all weekend, but there is no way I can pass on betting on him in this spot. A win here could set him up to be a real factor in what is going to be an amazing older horse class next year.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Most Recent Horse Race Betting and Handicapping
- Will There Be A Triple Crown Winner in 2020? Expert Horse Racing Tips and Predictions
- 2020 Belmont Stakes Predictions
- Belmont Stakes Odds - Live Horse Racing Betting Odds Updated
- 2020 Arkansas Derby Predictions with Morning Line Betting Odds
- 2020 Louisiana Derby Predictions with Odds and Expert Betting Picks
- 2020 Rebel Stakes Predictions with Odds and Expert Betting Picks
- 2019 Breeders' Cup Betting Tips: Horses to Watch
- 2019 Breeders Cup Long Shots: High-Value Horses to Watch
- 2019 Breeders' Cup Classic Predictions and Expert Betting Picks
- 2019 Breeders' Cup Mile Predictions and Expert Betting Picks