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March 24, 2017 in Handicapper's Edge, Handicapping Blog, Race Insights

The continuing swirl of the Derby trail is making us all dizzy.  McCraken remains the favorite of the pack mainly by default because he hasn’t run since the Sam Davis and all the other leaders have either lost badly in subsequent starts or were injured as was Mastery.  The Rebel last week gives even more cloudiness as there were several poor performances by top ranked horses and it came back as one of the slowest preps so far this season.

This brings us to this weeks preps, which will be contested in three different time zones and two different countries.  Our own Hedge Fund is taking on a full field of three year olds in the Sunland Derby, headlined by Bob Baffert’s impressive maiden winner Bronze Age.  Also, at Turfway Park you have the Spiral Stakes run on the polytrack that in recent years has not proved any serious Derby Contender.

This brings us to the UAE Derby run at the Preakness distance of a mile and three sixteenth.  It is a full and international field, headlined by the undefeated Japanese horse Epicharis, who is already qualified for the Derby after winning his start that was a win and you’re in.  Mike De Kock has been vocal on the talent of Fawree, but there are many stories of his antics in the gate, as was seen in his last non start, could be very interesting to pay attention to his attitude with all the lights and noise.

Thunder Snow is a recent late nominee to the Triple Crown and was an impressive last out winner of the UAE 2000 Guineas.  He is the morning line favorite and is a Grade 1 winner on turf in France as a two year old.  This will be his biggest test on dirt to date with the two Japanese horses shipping in (explain to me how Epicharis is 5-1 and Adirato is 50-1), plus Vettori Kin who is a grade 1 winner in Argentina.

Master Plan who is owned in partnership by Al Shaqab, China Horse Club and Winstar has been maturing very nicely as a three year old and runs a better race every start.  He is coming off an impressive win in the OBS Championship Stakes that was an intentional prep race for the UAE Derby.  Although, he has never run on fast dirt he trains over it every day and looks great breezing over dirt.  Plus, Tapwrit’s recent success only makes Master Plan’s form look even better and we know he will run all day long.

Picks: Master Plan, Epicharis and Thunder Snow

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