Horse Betting Tips: Gearing Up for the Triple Crown

David Schwab

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 9:45 PM GMT

Starting this past New Year’s Day and running through the middle of April, there are close to 60 prep races that will shape this year’s 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby.

The 2013 Triple Crown Trail

Not only will it help to shape the event, but give us a good idea which horses should be a major factor in all three Triple Crown stakes races this season.

Between now and the Run for the Roses, the first Saturday in May, each of the top contending 3-year old Thoroughbreds in the nation will continue to build a racing resume that might just result in the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. Here is a brief look at a couple of major stakes race results through the first few weeks of the new horse racing season as well as a preview of the next graded stakes race on the Triple Crown Trail.

Gulfstream Park Derby- Jan.1

Horse bettors should note that New Year’s Day kicked-off the 2013 horse racing season with a bang with the running of the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby, which is a 1-mile non-graded stakes race for three-year old thoroughbreds. Star Contender went off as an 8/5 favorite along with Sr. Quisqueyano as a 5/2 second favorite, but it was Itsmyluckyday that stole the show with an impressive 6 ¾ lengths victory over the five other horses in the field.

Ridden by Paco Lopez, this was a much better showing than the disappointing fifth-place finish he turned in at Gulfstream on Dec.15 in the Dania Beach Stakes. Not only does this emphatic victory erase any memory of that performance, it thrusts Itsmyluckyday into the crowded pool of Kentucky Derby hopefuls as a legitimate contender to make it into the final field. Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. is not yet sure what is next for the Kentucky-bred colt, but he is already eyeing-up a possible run in the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan.26.

Sham Stakes- Jan.5

The main attraction this past Saturday at Santa Anita Racetrack was the running of the Grade III Sham Stakes, which is the first big prep race of the season. This one mile race featured an early Triple Crown prospect in Goldencents, who went off as a prohibitive 2/5 betting odds favorite. Trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Kevin Krigger, the colt shook off a bump right out of the gate and steadied his heels going around the Club House turn to capture his first victory as a 3-year old by a solid 1 ½ lengths.

This sets him up for a run in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby on April 6. It also puts Goldencents in the early lead on the 2013 graded stakes money list with a $60,000 payday for his first-place finish. It was his first outing since closing-out his juvenile campaign with a victory in the Grade III $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs on Nov.17.

Lecomte Stakes- Jan.19

The second major graded stakes race on the trail to the Triple Crown takes place this upcoming Saturday with the running of the Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds Racetrack and Casino in New Orleans. It will be contested over 1 mile and 40 yards on a dirt track with a total prize purse of $175,000. The race also serves as a precursor to the $1 million Grade II Louisiana Derby, which will also be run at Fair Grounds on March 30.

A few horses to keep an eye on in this race for your sports picks, are Mylute and Avie’s Quality. Mylute finished in the money in six of his seven starts as a juvenile. He is trained by Thomas Amoss and ridden by Rosie Napravnik. Avie’s Quality posted a victory in the Display Stakes at Woodbine in his last outing as a juvenile. He is trained by Josie Carroll and ridden by Luis Contreras. He finished in the money in all four of his starts last year.