It’s another big cross-Atlantic classic weekend in prospect as the English and the Americans run their first Classics of the season. At Newmarket (ground expected to be good to firm), the 2,000 Guineas (colts) is scheduled for Saturday (3.45 a.m. GMT; 9.45 am Jamaica Time) and the 1,000 Guineas (fillies) for Sunday at the same time. Both will be run over the straight Rowley Mile.

In Louisiana, it’s the first Saturday in May and that means the Kentucky Derby over 10f on dirt (6.34 p.m. EDT; 5.34 pm Jamaica Time).



Aidan O’Brien’s Gleneagles has long been all the rage for this with an unbeaten 2yo campaign (after debut 4th) foiled by the French Stewards when disqualified after winning the Group 1 Grand Criterium (8f; good) on merit in a bunched finish from Full Mast (1/2l 2nd); Territories (nk 3rd; re-opposes); Burnt Sugar (nk 4th) and War Envoy (snk 5th; re-opposes).

He was clearly the best horse on the day and seems sure to confirm placing with those who ran then BUT the fact that so many finished so close up casts doubt on the form and he’s NO VALUE here as a short-priced favourite. The stable has suffered some notable setbacks early on this year but is still striking at over 21% and Gleneagles is being backed which means he’s going well at home so he won’t be defeated for lack of stable form or fitness.

But there are others coming out of stronger races none more so than the Greenham at Newbury (7f; good to firm) where ESTIDHKAAR impressed with his attitude; making most and rallying when headed looking as if a mile is his trip. He’ll come on a ton for the run and is confidently expected to fight out the finish. Whatever beats him, wins! The unexposed and very progressive Moheet, the ride of a rejuvenated Frankie Dettori, is a big danger at double digit odds.



Once again, Bob Baffert will saddle the howling favourite in the very classy American Pharoah who had a scintillating 2yo career but has been setback more than once and his Derby campaign has been somewhat rushed. Despite this, he has been brilliant again this year and worked magnificently on Sunday so should come to the race in peak form. There’s just s slight niggle that his races have been easy and he has benefitted from ideal trips so, at short odds, it’s a worry how he’ll react to the hustle and bustle of a big Kentucky Derby field. At the prices, he is given a swerve but make no mistake about it, his talent deserves a win.

The Florida runners Upstart; It’saknockout and Materiality may all suffer from prepping around Gulfstream’s tiring race track with the last named also suffering from inexperience while Wood Memorial winner Frosted is a class act but has no real experience outside of Aqueduct which is a sharpish track unlikely to properly prep him to handle Churchill Downs’ gruelling 10f.

The three to concentrate on are Dortmund (unlike American Pharoah, versatile regarding pace and can win from in front and off the pace); Mubtaahij (visually exciting win in UAE Derby was backed up by the numbers and is Dubai’s best ever chance at a Derby winner) and CARPE DIEM who has been in my notebook for this race since his staying on 2nd in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita and who gives the strong impression he has left plenty in the tank for May 2 after his workmanlike Blue Grass Stakes win.


Dangers for the Exacta Box/Trifecta (Mubtaahij/Dortmund)



Another Ballydoyle favourite in Found who also has all the credentials but suffered an interrupted preparation and so is avoided.

The short list includes 3:

  • JELLICLE BALL impressed mightily in running 2nd to Redstart (re-opposes) in Newbury’s Duty Free Stakes (7f; good to firm). The winner had the run of the race and seems sure to relish this extra furlong but not so much as the runner-up who wasn’t as well positioned and looks nailed on to reverse the form. It’s just a matter of whether she’ll be best over even further (great ante-post bet for the Oaks) but she should be very, very hard to beat on Sunday;
  • The first two in last year’s Rockfel Stakes Lucida and Fadhayyil have long been Guineas contenders the former despite her subsequent flop in the Fillies Mile (8f; soft) but it seemed the ground was against her that day and although plenty improvement is expected from Fadhayyil , she is suspect at a mile being out of a 5f speedster.


Danger (Exacta Box)  Lucida

Good Luck!



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