It’s the bye week between the NFL Conference Championship Games and the Super Bowl, so it’s the perfect time for a special edition of Tuley’s Thoroughbred Takes here at VSiN.

In addition to it being a relatively slow sports betting weekend (with NHL only having the All-Star Game mini-tourney on Saturday), horse racing gives us four coast-to-coast Kentucky Derby prep races with Holy Bull at Gulfstream in Florida, Withers at Aqueduct in New York, Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn in Arkansas and the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in California.

 

I have plays in three of those, so let’s get to the handicapping as we try to find some live long shots!

Aqueduct Race No. 9 (3:55 p.m. ET/12:55 p.m. PT)

Tuley’s Take: We kick off with this Grade 3 event in New York at a mile and an eighth, just one furlong short of the Derby’s mile and a quarter. #5 Seminole Chief looks like the clear value play here at 12-1 on the morning line. He has won 2-of-3 races with both victories coming from just off the pace – including at 12-1 in his last race at a mile and a sixteenth at Gulfstream – and that running style has been faring well at Aqueduct at this distance. He gets jockey Trevor McCarthy, which should help us keep at least double-digit odds.

Wager: Win and Place on #5.

Santa Anita Race No. 5 (5:23 p.m. ET/2:23 p.m. PT)

Tuley’s Take: We saw a Tweet earlier that Santa Anita was canceling, but it turned out that was a pre-emptive move for Sunday’s card, so we still get Saturday’s races highlighted by the Robert B. Lewis for 3-year-olds. #9 Scatify, a son of Triple Crown winner Justify (his grandsire is Scat Daddy, hence the cute name), is my play here, though I also like Bob Baffert-trained #1 Wine Me Up and Los Alamitos Futurity runner-up #7 Stronghold. Scatify, trained by John Sadler for West Point Thoroughbreds, should be able to stalk the front-runners from his outside post like he did in his maiden victory (though that was at 6 furlongs) and circle the field coming for home.
Wager: Win on #9, plus box 1-7-9 in Exactas and Trifectas (Tuley noted: all three of these colts are 6-1 on the morning line).

Gulfstream Race No. 12 (5:45 p.m. ET/2:45 p.m. PT)


Tuley’s Take: When most people think of Kentucky Derby preps in Florida, they think of the Fountain of Youth Stakes and, of course, the Florida Derby later in the spring, but that route to Churchill Downs on the First Saturday in May starts with the Holy Bull. In fact, Derby winners Go For Gin, Funny Cide and Barbaro used this race to start their 3-year-old campaigns. I’m taking a real flier here with #8 Sea Streak (20-1 on the morning line) as this race looks wide-open. Like my other plays on Saturday, Sea Steak should also be stalking the pace to set up a big late run. He ran that way in his last win in a minor stakes race over this track but also came from farther back when breaking his maiden at Aqueduct back in October. He’s also hit the board in all four starts, so we’re thrilled to get such a juicy price here.
Wager: Win and Place on #8 Sea Streak and also use with 2-5-6 in exotics.

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