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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Dull Derby

Got stuck in Florida for an extra day. When we got to the airport in Sarasota on Monday evening, the departure board read 'Early Departure' for our Jet Blue flight. Sure enough, we rolled out onto the runway about 15 minutes early. And then sat there for 15 minutes before the pilot says that there's hot air leaking from somewhere, "and that's not a good thing." Long story short, they canceled the flight, and we were lucky to get on the same flight the following night.

Well, could be worse things to be "stuck" by the Gulf on a cloudless day with the temperature in the upper 80's. But I was a bit stressed because I was thinking that I had to get home to blog about the Derby, since there's no place else for you to read about it. But then I checked out Wednesday's official Derby Barn Notes (dutifully delivered, along with that of the Oaks, daily to my inbox courtesy of Churchill Downs), and saw the following headlines:

Oh, man. Is this a sucky edition of the Derby, or what? Plus, there is no The Works on TVG, and it seems as if hardly anyone is working in this final week anyway. What is there even to say at this point? Handicapping the race is, in my opinion, ess a matter anymore of meticulously scrutinized and analying past performances, preparation, and historical trends than just trying to anticipate improvement, guess about the distance, insist on more than fair value, and get lucky.

I'm way bummed that Toby's Corner dropped out. I hated him here, and he would have taken a fair amount of money. (Though there is hope for the future. “I would say it is 50-50 right now,” Motion said, referring to the Preakness.) We've lost a bunch that I'd put in that category - Tha Factor, To Honor And Serve, Jaycito, to name a few. And of course there's the way that Uncle Mo the wonder horse suddenly developed acute indigestion upon seeing the sixteenth pole of the nine furlong Wood, and that one, who I always intended to bet against, ballooned in odds.

However, with Dialed In (4-1) and Uncle Mo (9-2) listed as the first and second choices, respectively, in the morning line, there will surely be good value to be found elsewhere. I hate Dialed In as the favorite. Hard to look past the way he struggled to edge Shackleford in the Florida Derby in a final furlong run in just under 14 seconds. Mike Welsch, in his video workout report on Wednesday, observed that Uncle Mo appeared to have "lightened" from last week. Always a good sign for a horse with an alleged stomach problem to have lost weight. If Welsch's observation is accurate, look for this one to, unfortunately, scratch. Mucho Macho Man (12-1) will be lower than that I think, and I don't like him either as I've said before (though he's also been positively reviewed by Welsch).

A couple of the horses that I actually do like did not fare at all well in the post position draw; Nehro (6-1, post 19) and Archarcharch (10-1, post 1). An especially emphatic ugh to the latter, who I like as much as anyone in this race. Improving form, nice pedigree, and love the way he changed tactics and closed from far back in the Arkansas Derby. Welsch has been raving about this one all week. Nehro, as mentioned before, as well as he's closed in his last two, remains eligible for entry-level allowance. Don't think that makes him a bargain at 6-1. But I think he has to be included on the tickets somewhere.

Brilliant Speed (30-1) is a little tempting to me based on his consistency and improvement. However, we have this situation every year it seems, where people get hooked on the turf/synthetic horse who wins the Blue Grass and inevitably lose their money. Both this horse and the Blue Grass runner-up Twinspired (another Welsch favorite) ran by far their worst races in their starts on dirt. I find that that usually means something. Two post isn't great for Brilliant Speed either.'

Some more observations tomorrow, and then maybe we can get to Belmont?


DiscreetPicks said...

Until today, i was going with Archarcharch.

I can't endorse him now, due to the nightmare post-draw. I do still think he's capable of running well, or even winning if he somehow lucks into a good trip. He showed sharp acceleration in the Arkansas Derby on more than one occasion, and that should serve him very well in the Derby, the ability to get to a hole or make a similar-type move in rapid fashion. It also appears he may be better-suited to the distance than many others in ther race. And of course, he's been looking sharp in the morning by all recent accounts. He had a lot going for him, not the least of which was price (i suspect he'll go off at double-digits). Tough beat drawing the rail.

Steve Zorn said...

As (almost) always, Mike Battaglia's morning line for the Derby is unrealistic. His line adds up to 134%, which implies a takeout of roughly 25% on straight win bets. I know Churchill, Inc. is greedy, but not quite that greedy. A more realistic line would total somewhere around 120%. Part of the problem is that he lists only one horse at 50-1, and a bunch at 30-1. The longshots will be longer on Derby Day, but I don't think the "favorites" will be much lower

El Angelo said...

Archarcharch is who I like too. I obviously don't love the post position, but don't think it completely wipes him out of contention, especially since he's going to rate anyway.

Steve, I disagree that the longshots will be longer on Derby day. Last year no horse was over 31-1. Call it the carryover from Mine That Bird.

Pull the Pocket said...

"But I was a bit stressed because I was thinking that I had to get home to blog about the Derby, since there's no place else for you to read about it. "

Classic line fella.


ljk said...

Uncle Mo = War Pass Brilliant at 2.

I'm amused how handicappers who could give a rat's ass how "horses looked" during their workouts for 51 weeks out of the year get obsessed Derby week.

I'm in and out of that Sarasota airport every week. It's a great little airport (I don't fly Jet Blue though).

Johnnie said...

Box the 3, 6, 9, 15.

jeff said...

I also like the two from the Arkansas Derby, Archx3 and Nehro, but if you're considering a turf/synthetic horse, why not Animal Kingdom? His Spiral win is visually impressive: though he does save some ground on the rail, he stays in touch with a 45-and-change half, cruises up to the leaders, swings out and runs on convincingly. While workouts are a far cry from race conditions, his last work on the Churchill track did go well. If he can bring his synthetic form to the dirt Saturday, maybe Mr. Motion's remaining entry is right in the mix with this mediocre bunch.

Anonymous said...

Don't see how they could run Uncle Mo now after the Life At Ten fiasco.

Dirtyshirt said...

As much as I've followed the lead up to the derby, I too was keen on ArchArchArch. He'll run well, and I'm also on Midnight Interlude. I have a lot of money in FIELD futures, so I'm looking alright. If Mo scratches, and I'd lay $ he does, I'll be pissed they didn't do it earlier, as I had $100 sway away future too.

Hopefully we all find value elsewhere, or somebody hits a 100k trifecta.

PS Alan - as on fire as your selections have been, maybe your hunch has a shot.


Anonymous said...

Two horses that I'm definitely using are Master of Hounds and Shackleford. The latter is thriving at Churchill. He must have put on 150 - 200lbs. since coming here. Master ran really well in Meydan after a 5 month layoff. Who is better than Garrett to ride?