The week before the Kentucky Derby is generally a slow one on the track, but there are a few horses who could have ultimately been heroes in the Triple Crown last year.
Those colts are back at Aqueduct this weekend for the Excelsior Stakes, one of the last big races of the year in New York before heading to Belmont Park.
FAVORITE TO FOLLOW
Micromanage is going to most likely be the favorite in this race, and for good reason. Granted, it’s been a few years since this colt ran in the Kentucky Derby and remainder of Triple Crown races, but he’s been very good at times in big spots such as this.
Still, Micromanage has a good history, winning seven races in his career, two of which have come here at Aqueduct. A pair of fourth place finishes in a row to start off the year is problematic, but against a relatively weak field, Micromanage is still the best in the eyes of the oddsmakers.
UNDERDOG TO WATCH
Wicked Strong is going to be one of the middling choices on the board come Saturday, but he’s going to be one of our favorite selections.
We're only a year away from Wicked Strong being the second favorite in the Kentucky Derby and the third favorite in the Belmont Stakes. Keep in mind that Wicked Strong also won the Jim Dandy Stakes and was second in the Travers Stakes by a nose.
Granted, he was injured in the Kentucky Jockey's Club and hasn't been the same since that point.
We're going to get a good price on Wicked Strong because he was awful in his first race of this year at Gulfstream Park. He finished fourth that day in the one-mile race.
ANALYSIS AND PREDICTION
Still, Wicked Strong is a big colt, and if he proves to be healthy, he could end up being wicked awesome in this race. We love the fact that he is going to be going through a jockey change, which might really end up helping him out after so many failures with Rajiv Maragh onboard.
The bottom line though is that this isn't a fantastic field aside from Wicked Strong and Micromanage. Effinex and Stormin Monarchos are colts who’ve never run in big time races before, and though Cousin Stephen does have some decent results, he hasn't been fantastic in his career.
Red Rifle is at least remotely intriguing as well. He was amongst the favorites at the New Orleans Handicap and the Mineshaft Handicap, but he was beaten in both of those efforts.
In the end, we have to think that Wicked Strong is going to get out of the blocks in good shape. If he can figure out how to get out of the first half mile or so in good position, we know that he has the strength to be able to win from there.
Simply put, no one else has a chance to win if Wicked Strong runs his best race, which isn't something that we can say about any other colt suiting up in the Empire State on Saturday.
Play Wicked Strong to win the Excelsior Stakes
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