The goal of the Derby Dollars Contest, sponsored by and The Paulick Report, is to score points as if wagering to win, place and show. $2,500 in cash prizes are on the line in this fun and exciting contest. We are down to eight races in the contest, plus the Kentucky Derby. Starting this weekend, scoring is based on a mythical $4 win, place and show wager. There are two races this week - the Louisiana Derby on Saturday, March 24 and the Sunland Derby on Sunday, March 25.


Louisiana Derby contenders and analysis:

My Boy Jack won the Southwest Stakes in convincing fashion last month with a 106 Equibase Speed Figure so in his third start as a three year old should run even better considering he earned a career-best 114 figure last year when victorious in the Zuma Beach Stakes (on turf). After the Southwest, My Boy Jack shipped back to trainer Keith Desormeaux's  home base in Southern California and put in three workouts to help him hold his condition. Shipping east once more while appearing capable of running back to big effort last summer, My Boy Jack appears to be the one to beat in this year's Louisiana Derby.


Snapper Sinclair, like My Boy Jack, was a stakes winner last year on turf, capturing the Turf Showcase Juvenile Stakes in September. Trainer Steve Asmussen tried him on dirt in the LeComte Stakes earlier this year, his first start as a three year old his first race on dirt since his career debut last summer. After finishing third of 13 in the LeComte, Snapper Sinclair ran his best race to date when battling head-and-head for the last seven-eighths of a mile in the Risen Star, coming up a nose short on the wire to Bravazo with a career-best 110 figure. Rested five weeks since then, Snapper Sinclair should run as well or better in the Louisiana Derby, particularly with a jockey change to Jose Ortiz, currently the fifth leading rider in North America.


Noble Indy finished third behind Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair in the Risen Star as the second betting choice at five to two odds. That was just the third start of his career and although he did not win as he had in both his previous races, Noble Indy earned a career-best 106 figure in the process. New blinkers may help him to focus more on the task at hand in the late stages in the Louisiana Derby and as such Noble Indy could stamp himself a strong contender for the Kentucky Derby in six weeks.


Bravazo was my choice for this Derby Dollars blog last month based on the fact he placed second in a graded stakes (the Breeders' Futurity) as a two year old and had an excellent prep race in January when making his first start as a three year old. That January 13 effort earned Bravazo a career-best 104 figure, which improved to a 110 figure when he won the Risen Star. Now third on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 54 points, Bravazo just needs to stay in good physical shape as that point total assures him a spot in the starting gate in Louisville on the first Saturday in May. As it may be other horses which need to finish first or second in the race may run the best races of their careers while at the same time Bravazo may not be pushed to his limit until the Kentucky Derby, it is possible one of the other contenders may emerge victorious in this race.


Sunland Derby contenders and analysis:

Choo Choo could post the upset in this year's Sunland Derby, as he's coming off a fifth place finish with no excuse in the El Camino Real Derby. However, that race is starting to prove productive as last weekend El Camino Real Derby third place finisher Blended Citizen posted the upset to win the Jeff Ruby Steaks in Kentucky. Although Choo Choo has been running exclusively on turf and all-weather since his debut last summer in a dirt sprint, he is bred to run very well on the dirt as his full brother (same sire and dam) is multiple graded stakes winner Blueskiesnrainbows, who ran very well as a three year old when finishing third in the 2012 Santa Anita Derby and winning the Swaps Stakes on his way to earnings of $670,000 and a win in the Native Diver Stakes at the distance of the Sunland Derby as well as Grade 2 San Pasqual Stakes. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who also trained Blueskiesnrainbows to those latter two wins, handles Choo Choo as well. With the colt having put in back-to-back 102 Equibase figure efforts including when winning the California Derby in January and with the removal of blinkers as well as an off-the-pace running style that should benefit from a likely early pace battle between All Out Blitz, Shane Zain and Runaway Ghost, Choo Choo could be on his way to Kentucky with the 50 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby that comes with a win in this race.


New York Central is an improving type and a son of Tapit trained by Steve Asmussen, who goes to his #1 jockey in Ricardo Santana, who rode the colt to a game win by a neck last month with a career best 96 Equibase figure. Making his third start of the year, New York Central has improving to do and is another with an off-the-pace style so he should be in a great position to be in the action at the finish in the Sunland Derby.


Peace didn't show much when fourth behind McKinzie and Bolt d'Oro in the San Felipe or when fifth prior to that in the Robert B. Lewis but considering Hall-of-Fame trainer Dick Mandella wheels him back on just 14 days rest we should take notice. Mandella is a very prudent trainer and must believe the colt didn't have much taken out of him in his other race this month. Over the past two years, Mandella has only brought back nine horses in under a month and among those nine, three won, all in graded stakes including Paradise Woods in last year's Santa Anita Oaks and Beholder in the Grade 1 Vanity Mile in 2016. Even though Peace finished fourth last time out, the 107 Equibase figure earned is the best last race figure in the field. As such, we must consider Peace as a major player in this race.