Honor A.P. & Cezanne Enter as Near Co-Favorites

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Honor A.P.

Honor A.P. is the favorite in Saturday's Kentucky Derby prep race, the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar. Photo by @HR_Nation (Twitter)

  • Saturday’s Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar is the final Kentucky Derby tuneup for Honor A.P.
  • Late developing and very expensive Cezanne must run well in order to qualify for the Run for the Roses
  • Who should you bet on in the Shared Belief and the rest of Del Mar’s top notch races?

Baring injury Honor A.P. will run in the Kentucky Derby on September 5 and assuming he looks decent this Saturday in Del Mar’s Shared Belief Stakes, he will be among the favorites. The stakes this weekend are much larger for Cezanne.

Purchased for $3.65 million, but sidelined until making his debut on June 6, this is Cezanne’s one and only opportunity to earn enough points to qualify for the Run for the Roses.

Thousand Words will be a longshot Saturday, but a top three finish is probably good enough to earn entrance in the Kentucky Derby if he wants it. Kiss Today Goodbye is in the same boat as Cezanne, with a lot less hype. He needs a strong performance, a win or maybe a place, to get to Louisville.

As is usual this time of year at Del Mar, the weekend has several terrific high level races. Let’s break down the Shared Belief, and briefly look at the other graded stakes while we seek betting value.

2020 Shared Belief Stakes Odds

Horse Odds at Bet365
Honor A.P. +100
Cezanne +120
Thousand Words +600
Kiss Today Goodbye +5000

Odds taken Jul 30

In an effort to have more people watching and wagering, the Shared Belief is race number two on the Del Mar card Saturday, slated for 5:3 0pm EST. The horses will go one-mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main course.

The Favorite

Aside from Belmont Stakes winner Tiz The Law, Honor A.P. is not only the favorite to win the Shared Belief, but the most likely Kentucky Derby winner based on futures odds. After being out of action because of injury for nearly five months, Honor A.P. made his 2020 debut in March, finishing second to Authentic in the San Felipe Stakes. He turned the tables on Authentic in June’s Santa Anita Derby.

How much does motivation matter in the Shared Belief? Honor A.P. is focused on September and doesn’t need an A-effort this weekend. He has already locked in his spot in Louisville. Will he give his best or hold something back? Is a B level performance good enough?

2020 Kentucky Derby Odds Tracker

Top Challenger

Do things happen for a reason? Cezanne is one of the most expensive horses purchased in recent memory but was injured and unable to begin racing until recently. However, with the Kentucky Derby shifted from the spring to the fall, he still is a viable contender.

Cezanne is two-for-two, hasn’t been challenged by great competition yet, and has run somewhat greenly thus far. Honor A.P. will be a major challenge, but give Cezanne credit, he gutted out a win around two turns for the first time last time out.

A win will get Cezanne into the Kentucky Derby, and a second place performance may do the trick. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith should have him built up for his best effort this weekend.

Longshot

On paper Thousand Words is a step below Honor A.P., but what if the favorite isn’t fully cranked while looking ahead? Maybe Cezanne is more name and glitzy price tag than substance. If so Thousand Words will certainly be a nice price and has three wins in six starts.

 

The Bet

Objectively Honor A.P. towers over this field, though there is significant reason to believe that Cezanne is special. Because Honor A.P. doesn’t need the race and is using it as a true prep, whereas Cezanne has to run well to make it to Louisville, we’ll take the better price and see if the pricey Baffert protégée can rise to the occasion.

Pick: Cezanne (+150)

Del Mar’s Other Big Races this Weekend

Bing Crosby Stakes

About four hours after the Shared Belief, the Grade 1 Bing Crosby is a Win and You’re in Race for the Breeder’s Cup Sprint. Adding intrigue to an already strong field is the surprise entry of Baffert’s superstar McKinzie.

While McKinzie has eight career wins including four at the Grade 1 level, none have come in a six furlong sprint, like the Bing Crosby is. After concluding last year with a runner up performance in the Breeders Cup Classic, McKinzie debuted this year and didn’t run great in the Saudi Cup, halfway around the world. He returned to win the Triple Bend Stakes at Santa Anita, and most recently finished fifth as the favorite in Belmont’s Metropolitan Handicap.

If McKinzie doesn’t take to the shortened trip, there are plenty of good options in the Bing Crosby. Desert Law returned from an 11 month absence to run a solid second in a stakes race at Santa Anita in mid June. His last race in 2019 was a runner up effort in this event.

Lexitonian dropped down in class to win an allowance optional claiming event in late May. He scratched out of a top tier race last weekend, and now returns to strong competition where he has consistently been competitive though rarely wins.

Collusion Illusion has run five times, finished four races, and won all four. He was eased in the American Pharoah Stakes last year, but is two-for-two in 2020 including a grade three victory in June.

Cal bred Fashionably Fast had a six race winning streak snapped when running second to McKinzie in the Triple Bend Stakes. Perhaps the distance could help him turn the tables.

Clement L. Hirsch Stakes

Sunday’s Grade 1 Clement L. Hirsch is a Win and You’re In event for the Breeders’s Cup Distaff. The field will go a-mile-and-a-sixteenth on the dirt and the Santa Maria Stakes looms as a key preview of this one.

Fighting Mad ran his best career race, winning for a fourth time in seven starts in the Santa Maria and upset heavily favored CeCe in the process. The rematch is this weekend, and Cece is looking to bounce back after starting the year three-for-three but coming up somewhat empty in late May. CeCe has four wins in seven races including two Grade 1 victories.

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Dave F.

NFL NBA Golf Sports Writer

NFL NBA Golf

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