By Jarrod Horak
The 2023 Los Alamitos Derby at 1 1/8 miles on July 8 looks like a match race on paper between Grade 3 Sham hero Reincarnate and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby show finisher Skinner. The former has the tactical edge and the latter has the most upside.
Last week, I covered the Grade 1 Stephen Foster at Ellis Park and my top choice West Will Power got the job done. Let’s see if I can make it two straight. I will go through the projected race shape and look at the best Digest Final Time Ratings, and finish up with wagering strategies. My Los Al Derby video is included below as well.
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$125,000 Los Alamitos Derby – Race 9 – Los Alamitos Race Course (7-8-23)
1 – Yellow Brick (8-1)
2 – Reincarnate (7-5)
3 – Skinner (8-5)
4 – Prince Abu Dhabi (8-1)
5 – Smart Mo (9-2)
6 – Abeliefinthislivin (15-1)
Today’s Racing Digest Pace Ratings (2023 Route Races) – Most Representative Line
Reincarnate – 173 (Sham)
Smart Mo – 135 (MSW)
Abeliefinthislivin – 131 (OC May 4)
Yellow Brick – 129 (MSW Feb. 12)
Skinner – 129 (SA Derby)
Prince Abu Dhabi – 117 (Cal Derby – Synthetic)
It sure looks like the early lead is Reincarnate’s if he wants it, and his rider Juan Hernandez will almost certainly try to clear the field from post 2. If he is able to relax on a lonely lead while receiving a breather, he might be tough to catch, and his trainer Bob Baffert saddled the winner of this race the last six years. Skinner needs pace help and his stablemate Smart Mo might try to pressure Reincarnate in the early going. Yellow Brick has tactical speed and the inside post. He removes blinkers and did get a 129 Pace Rating when Skinner beat him on Feb. 12. He should save all the ground stalking the pace under Hector Berrios.
Today’s Racing Digest Final Ratings (2023 Route Races) – Most Representative Line
Skinner – 158 (SA Derby)
Reincarnate – 144 (Sham)
Prince Abu Dhabi – 140 (Cal Derby – Synthetic)
Abeliefinthislivin – 138 (OC May 4)
Smart Mo – 125 (MSW)
Yellow Brick – 122 (MSW April 30)
Skinner has the healthiest Final Time Rating pattern. His best number in three starts as a juvenile was a 114, and he put up a 122, 129, and 158 in a trio of 2023 starts. Reincarnate’s 78 in the Kentucky Derby can be forgiven due to him attending above par fractions and wilting at a mile and a quarter. His Sham, Rebel, and Arkansas Derby put him squarely in the conversation. The other four entrants are not fast enough to compete with the two favorites.
Jarrod’s Los Alamitos Derby Wagers
There are two logical conclusions. Reincarnate controls the pace and keeps on going, or Skinner stays within hailing distance and wears him down. I am going with the latter scenario. I will give Richard Mandella’s maiden Yellow Brick a chance to hit the board. From a trip standpoint, he should save all the ground stalking the pace in his third start after a layoff, and he drilled a Santa Anita bullet for this on June 29.
#3 to win