BONUS: Matt Dinerman, track announcer for Golden Gate Fields, joins The Player's Edge once again to discuss some big, upcoming races at Golden Gate Fields as well as his picks, favorites and longshots for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. You don't want to miss his Derby/Oaks Double. Last time, he gave us the Belmont Stakes exacta, straight cold!
"Eating is her number one thing to do," is what trainer Kenneth McPeek says about his horse SWISS SKYDIVER (PP: 1 ML 8/5). McPeek should consider feeding her whatever she's been eating since the Gulfstream Park Oaks in late March.
She won the Gulfstream Oaks by 3 ¼ lengths following an average start to her career that left few, if any, clues to her potential. SWISS SKYDIVER won her debut, impressively, at Churchill and followed it with a second, fifth, and third prior to the Gulfstream Oaks.
Since, SWISS SKYDIVER has been eating up the competition, visiting the winners’ circle in four of her last five starts. She ran by the comp by at least 2 1/2 lengths in the quartet of Ws. The lone non-winning outing was a second-place finish in Blue Grass stakes behind Art Collector, who would have been one of the Kentucky Derby favorites minus scratching due to injury.
Beating all the boys in the Blue Grass Stakes was a major ask to begin with. SKYDIVER was only the second filly in the race’s 109-year history to even try. Getting the better of even-money favorite GAMINE (PP: 5) could prove to be a difficult task as well.
GAMINE has demolished her foes in three of her four races. She barely held on in the lone non-demolition versus SPEECH (PP: 4 ML 5-1), grabbing the checkered flag by a neck. GAMINE critics point to the $100,000 Optional Calming race at Oaklawn Park as the reason she won’t win the Kentucky Oaks.
It was her first and only two-turn race and she had to fight all the way around the track. SPEECH made up nearly 1 1/2 lengths in that last 1/16 mile. That race was 1 1/16 miles, the Kentucky Oaks 1 1/8 miles. The extra distance could have been enough for SPEECH to win the photo finish.
(race starts at 14:50)
Even the white-haired Bob Baffert sounds a little uncertain about GAMINE’s two-turn fortunes, "two turns, that's the whole thing with her, but we know she's fast and she's done it before so it's not like it's new."
Baffert is right to be worried. SPEECH also faced SWISS SKYDIVER in the Santa Anita Oaks. SKYDIVER smashed SPEECH by 4 lengths one race after she nearly caught GAMINE in Hot Springs, Arkansas. SPEECH was also hammered by DONNA VELOCE (PP: 3 ML 15-1) in the Santa Ysabel Stakes at Santa Anita. Here’s the more alarming/amazing thing, DONNA VELOCE stumbled at the start and still won by 4 ¼ lengths without jockey Flavien Prat asking the horse to go all-out at the end.
In our opinion, DONNA VELOCE is being undervalued by the oddsmaker. Our handicapper says a DONNA VELOCE win would not be an upset in our Kentucky Derby Wagering Guide's commentary.
"SWISS SKYDIVER has pulled away late in the three of her last four runs against the ladies. She geared it down at the end of her last. The distance should suit her as she’s answered that question; whereas, GAMINE lost 1 ½ lengths in the last sixteenth at 1 1/16 miles. Concerned an additional 1/16 could hurt. DONNA VELOCE is training well and has two wins and two second in four starts. In our opinion, a severe overlay at 15-1. We will not consider it an upset if she wins. Banking on a good trip from an outward post for SHEDARESTHEDEVIL. She’s never missed the board in eight starts, including two wins in two Churchill races."