Derby Spotlight: Game Winner

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Last year’s Juvenile Champion has missed with both of his shots this year, but that won’t keep him from getting his share of wagering support on the first Saturday in May. That’s for sure. As we know, Game Winner is one of three that Bob Baffert is planning to send to post in the Kentucky Derby, and no one should argue with you if your wagering plan calls for all of them to be a big part of your bets.

A thorough, objective replay review of each and every one of Game Winner’s career starts will result in very, very little to criticize. He’s simply super-talented and professional. He’s run winning races in both of his losses this year, with the defeats coming at the hands of ultra-impressive Omaha Beach and stablemate Roadster. So not only is he running well, but he’s losing nothing in defeat. For me, the question is simple: Have we seen his best? If so, it may still be good enough to win the Kentucky Derby. But, if another Derby rival has a big move forward within him while Game Winner keeps on doing his thing, I can see him not just losing, but missing the superfecta.

As for his running style, we don’t need to guess. He won’t be far back. I like that style for the Kentucky Derby. A hot pace shouldn’t totally kill him, and he won’t be too far back if they take their time up front. Depending on the post draw and traffic, Game Winner should get his chance as they turn for home. From there, it’ll be up to him.

Might he be the third-most-likely winner from his own barn? Some will say yes. Improbable looked pretty good in the Arkansas Derby. And Roadster just beat Game Winner on the level. It will be interesting to see how Game Winner looks at Churchill Downs, where we know he already has a win.

With the better part of three weeks to go, it’s looking to me like Game Winner is one I’ll have no choice but to respect in the Kentucky Derby, but perhaps he won’t appear prominently at the top of my biggest wagers. I like him, and of course he can win. But this is shaping up as an instance where I simply like others more.

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