Woody Stephens Stakes 2021 Picks: Caddo River Breaks Through

Brad Cox's Caddo River could be a price. But he will have to take on some fabulous foes ... see his chances below.
Brad Cox's Caddo River could be a price. But he will have to take on some fabulous foes ... see his chances below.

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7F (Dirt) Woody Stephens Stakes (G1), $400k, 3

The Grade 1 Woody Stephens brings together a nice group of sprinters that are looking to notch a celebrated victory on one of the biggest days of the year for Thoroughbreds. Even though he is banned from running this year, Bob Baffert has entered some nice ones in the past who have won here—namely Bayern and American Anthem. Who knows when he will get to return?

In the meantime, this year’s crop has some strong candidates, and you could make a case for each of them. Starting with the inside horses, both Nova Rags #1 from Bill Mott’s stable, and Saffie Joseph’s Drain the Clock #2, are promising types that took different routes to this race. Mott’s colt was good in the Peter Pan (G3), but not good enough. The HOF conditioner is hoping her fitness and tracking style will assist. As for Joseph’s burner, this one was excellent in the Bay Shore (G3) last out. That was a pretty short field though, but with Irad Ortiz aboard, this son of Maclean’s Music has major upside.

If you are looking for the real matchup, then check out the interior horses. Jackie’s Warrior #3 and Dream Shake #4 were stunning going head-to-head last time in the Pat Day Mile (G2) on the Derby undercard. It was a thriller as Steve Asmussen’s #3, held off Peter Eurton’s #4. Now, we are getting a rematch, and it has the makings for another classic down the lane. Either of these have the ability to win at Belmont. It might be a toss-up.

As for the outsiders, these 2 look intriguing because most bettors will gravitate to the duelers. Tulane Tryst #5 from Cherie DeVaux’s midst is going to be a major price because of the class jump. As for Caddo River #6, this colt is out of the excellent barn of Brad Cox. I like him simply because I am partial to home breds, love the idea of cutting this one back, and am bullish on Florent Geroux. Cox had this one sprinting as a 2-yr-old, and that might be a superb plan moving forward.

With the way I think the tote will go with “2 Minutes to Post,” the #6 might drift toward 7/1. Nothing like horses getting overbet, which in turn creates significant opportunities. That would be a nice gift, and worth a graduated set of wagers. Here is the plan …

Wager Recommendation: $100 Bankroll, Graduated, #6 ($10-W, $15-P, $75-S)

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