2020 Kentucky Derby (Posts 7-12)

#7 Money Moves 30/1

Lightly-raced runner will try to surprise while fresh making just 2nd start since March. Showed professionalism to be able to distribute energy evenly when trying 2 turns for the first time with a 64/75 REV (signals a “reversal” where a runner has posted a higher dirt Final Figure than 4F Figure for the first time). However, when locked onto a rival in a stretch duel last out wasn't able to overcome and this is a big step up in the competition category.

#8 South Bend

Runner showed some nice potential right out of the gate setting a 2-year old foundation that included a COMP debut, SOFT win, and a DTOP when trying first route. This runner has put in his fair share of work as he continued to race right on campaigning all year from a stint on grass and now back to the dirt. With 12 lifetime starts, he's the most experienced of the field and has a spin at today's 10-furlong distance where he ran a deep 58/77. I'm afraid he'll need to pick that 4F Figure up to stay with the field which could hurt his potential to show a breakout performance here, but he does go second time here for his new barn with well-respected Bill Mott now in charge.

#9 Mr. Big News 50/1

An unimpressive 2-year old season was met with a nice form jump in the 3-year old debut figuring things out energy distribution-wise by posting a 66/73 REV en route to victory. Has made some small strides overall working off an NPT 2 back to post a 74/76 last out. Certainly the type of small steps and foundation a runner could spring forward off of and surprise at big odds. Will need to learn to relax a bit from the -2 and -1 dirt spreads he's posted lately while stretching out another 1/8 mile, though.

#10 Thousand Words 15/1

Had the makings of a star early on debuting a fast 76/75 COMP before getting right to routing with a combo of NPT and REV victories. Something went a bit amiss for a few starts as he was acting up pre-race and looked troubled while suddenly posting a pair of out of form sub-70 performances spending a lot of energy early. I had originally thought to myself he'll have a nice career when he returns as a gelding, but Baffert was able to right the ship and he returned back to solid form relaxing at Los Al 2 back with a back in form 66/77 before last out's 67/73 victory over AP Honor. Maybe he just got brave when inheriting a manageably-paced lead, but it seems an encouraging sign to see him rebound from a fit of uncertainness and make the Derby gate off a big victory.

#11 Necker Island 50/1

Runner has been improving with each and every start since prompting the REV pattern back in April and now comes a big 75/79. There is some concern here, however, at some point a string of improvements always reaches a peak and this is a tough string of races to sustain much less breakout off of. Necker Island goes blinkers off for this one. The Derby probably isn't a typical spot you would experiment with equipment changes, but perhaps the trainer knows this one will need to relax to stand a shot at breaking out off such a grueling campaign.

#12 Sole Volante

Runner was made favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby and had a lot of hype gearing up for a May Derby, but then 2020 happened and now here we are being offered 30/1 in September. This one holds a pattern that I pay extra attention to as it yields surprise longshot runners on a regular basis. With the NPT 2 back, we had a spot where 70% of runners move forward next out and as we see, Sole Volante would disappoint and rank among the 30% that actually regress. The mistake is stopping right there. NPT is a positive conditioning move for a runner but coming back 10 days can sometimes be just a bit too much conditioning for a runner. We'll see a bit of a dud performance and very often when the public has given up on a runner off a weak run like that, we'll get offered value to see that runner return feeling fresher and spring right back up off that 2 back NPT. Should be including this one in your exotics.

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