Free Picks: Weekend Horse Betting Odds & Picks

Joe Freda

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 7:49 PM GMT

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013 7:49 PM GMT

As we near the Triple Crown, we look at two of this weekend's stakes and try to uncover the best horse betting value. Read on for our odds coverage and free picks for both the Risen Star Stakes and the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

2013 Triple Crown Trail Update- Feb. 20

The trail of prep races for this year’s Triple Crown race season begins to really heat up this weekend with two graded stakes races that could have a major impact on the final field for the running of the Kentucky Derby the first Saturday in May.

The following is a brief look at both races along with my insider’s free picks for each. 

The Risen Star Stakes

This upcoming Saturday at Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots is the running of this year’s Grade II Risen Star Stakes. It will be run on dirt over a length of 1 1/16 miles with a total prize purse of $400,000. This stakes race is the primary prep race for the $1 million Grade II Louisiana Derby on March 30. 

The field for the Risen Star is limited to 14 three-year old thoroughbreds, but there are a few top contenders that are primed to steal the show. At the top of my list is Oxbow, who has already posted a victory this season in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds by an impressive 11 ½ lengths on Jan.13. Trained by D.Wayne Lucas and ridden by Jon Court. He has been opened as a 5/1 second favorite on the morning line and remains my top pick to win.

The favorite in this race on the morning line is Normandy Invasion at 5/2. This three year old colt is already considered one of the early favorites to win the Kentucky Derby so this should be an excellent test to see if he is up to the task. Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Jose Lezcano, he is coming off a second-place finish in the Grade II Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Nov.24 as a two-year old. This will be his first race this year as a three-year old.

If you are looking for a quality horse with a bit longer odds to win on Saturday, take a hard look at Mylute at betting odds of 6/1. He is trained locally at GoldMark Farms by Tom Amass and has won or placed in six of his seven starts. As a two-year old, he finished third in the Grade II Delta Downs Jackpot.

The Fountain of Youth Stakes

The major tune-up race for the Grade I Florida Derby on March 30 is this Saturday’s Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. This race is run on dirt over a length of 1 1/16 mile with a total prize purse of $400,000.  

A strong field of 11 three-year old thoroughbreds is expected for Saturday’s 2:35 p.m. (PT) post time led by the morning line favorite Violence at 9/5. This colt is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Javier Castellano. Many horse betting experts feel that he is Pletcher’s best shot to win the Kentucky Derby this year despite the fact that he has only run in three career races, and all of them as a two-year old. His biggest win was in the Grade I Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood Park last fall.

My pick in this race is Falling Sky at 6/1. He is coming of a gate-to-wire victory in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb.2 at Tampa Bay Downs. It was the third win in four races for the John Terranova trained colt, who has already shown he can run well in both middle and long distances. If he keeps progressing along like he has so far, this will be a horse to watch at Churchill come Derby time. 

An interesting horse with longer odds for this race at 12/1 is Speak Logistics, who is trained by Ed Plesa. He is also coming off a quick turnaround after finishing fourth in the Sam F. Davis stakes, which was his first start since finishing seventh in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November. He may be a bit of a reach to win this race, but could figure in nicely in an exacta play with either Violence or Falling Sky.
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