Kentucky Derby Prep Races

The Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) is perhaps one of the most significant Kentucky Derby prep races. The February 26th race was won by Union Rags this year. But this horse’s performance was a lackluster 3rd in his next outing at the Florida Derby on March 31st. His top Beyer speed figure of 95 seems to be as fast as he can go. He has earned this figure twice but never surpassed it. And the latest 95, at the Fountain of Youth, was done under ideal conditions. Union Rags sat behind the leaders for the majority of the race, not challenging until halfway through the last turn. While it’s true he was three wide here, the race could not have unfolded any better for him. Union Rags is a great G2 racer, it looks like, but will probably not be competitive in the top three at the Kentucky Derby.

This has left the field wide open for a Kentucky Derby favorite. Todd Pletcher’s Gemologist has been given a lot of credit, and so has Hansen, who is trained by Michael Maker. But after the advanced betting sessions, it looks like the fan favorite is still currently Union Rags who currently has a 7-2 advanced wagering payout.

If you are looking for better value on a horse, it’s probably wise to stay away from Union Rags for now. At 7-2, and with its lower Beyer figures, this horse does not necessarily deserve a lot of the hype that bettors are giving it. Gemologist is 5 for 5 for his career and has increased the Beyer figures each race with a current high of 98 earned at the Wood Memorial. Here, Gemologist outlasted Alpha, another top Kentucky Derby contender. This indicates that he can handle the top G1 talent in the country.

Gemologist might not have the fastest Beyer in the field, but at a current price of 7-1, this is a value that you shouldn’t pass up. If Gemologist continues to improve at the rate he has, he should be a top 3 finisher at the Derby. And while Creative Cause, Daddy Nose Best, and Secret Circle all have figures at 100 or better, there is no reason to doubt that Gemologist, when pushed by these horses, can also perform above the coveted 100 mark. In fact, Gemologist’s Beyers have steadily rose the longer the race that he takes on. Whether this is just maturation or a real sign that distance routes are his calling doesn’t matter. Gemologist is capable of winning the Kentucky Derby and unless problems arise, should be included in most exotic wager tickets.