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Friday, April 30, 2010

The Rundown

OK, here's a relatively quick trip through the 20 horse field. I've already discussed some of these in detail over the last couple of weeks, and will assume that you've been along for the ride (feel free to scan the posts below if you wish). This year's Derby is largely devoid of depth in quality, star power, wider public appeal (haven't had anyone in the office come up and ask me who I like), and, one might argue (at least to a certain extent), talent. Hmmm, sounds like the Republican field for governor.

Well, actually those guys may have more characters than we have in this nondescript bunch.

Nonetheless, it's certainly wide open as a betting race, and looks like a lot of fun. Which is exactly what, and all, it should be as far as I'm concerned. Especially with the weather forecast really starting to suck. Quoting my buddy and fellow socialist steve in nc:

I think the best strategy is to try to remember one's dreams on Friday night, add in some longshots that could hit the board, and swing for the fences with a very small exotic wager and a very large mint julep. Anyone who can get really passionate or confident about one horse here is already dreaming.
The way I see it, with the possible exception of one horse, there's a small enough gap separating enough horses so that the race will likely be largely determined by chance. So I agree with steve, except that I take my bourbon straight.

Lookin At Lucky - This is the one horse who I think one could make a passionate case for given his consistency and very substantial edge in class; despite the bad post. Only knock in my mind is that he has just two races this year, and didn't get to run his best in the second one. Baffert was pissed at Gomez for getting himself in trouble down on the rail; but breaking from the 1 hole here, this colt is going to feel as boxed in as the Senate Republicans on financial reform. However, just the fact that he's dealt with the kind of traffic he'll face is a big plus in my book. Could be it will work to his advantage; actually it will have to if he's going to win. Don't think that 3-1 is fair odds on that proposition, but who knows; with all the bad dishing on the post, maybe he's closer to 5-1. And I certainly wouldn't argue with someone keying him on top with some price horses no matter what his odds, which could still yield some very lucrative results.

Ice Box - This horse might be the second choice given his trainer, last race Beyer, and the way in which he won that Florida Derby, coming from far back as he did. The bettors love stuff like that. And he may not be as far back as people think; he was actually fairly close in his first two route races before breaking poorly in the FOY, and having limited options breaking from an outside post with a short run-up to the turn in a speedy Florida Derby field. I just don't think he's very good though, and have my own doubts about that 99 speed fig, which, by the way, is also an anomaly on the form of Pleasant Prince, who he beat by a nose.

Noble's Promise - I've discussed the distance influence in what seems on the surface like a horse obviously not bred to stay this route. And he's reportedly worked quite well, enough obviously to prompt his sharp trainer Ken McPeek to run him here. I mean, even though it's the Derby, they wouldn't run him unless it in the best interests of the horse. Right? He seems to have been largely counted out, like Gordon Brown. I don't want to lose to him, and will definitely, no matter what I end up doing, have a couple of bucks on him at long odds to win. On Noble's Promise, not on Gordon Brown.

Super Saver - Discussed in the prior post. So you guys think he'll sell to Line of David and/or Conveyance and sit off the lead, eh? Well, taking another look at the Arkansas Derby, while he did break a bit awkwardly, Calvin Borel and his colt both seemed perfectly content sitting a comfortable second, and perhaps that was the intent all along. If that's the case, he should be able to get a pretty damn cozy trip going into the turn. Third race of the form cycle, rave reviews all week by Welsch, nice pedigree, loves the track and has a good effort in the slop. A lot of positives and I'd be all on board except for the way he hung on the money and couldn't get by Line of David. And he wouldn't have even if they'd gone another furlong. I'm back and forth on him, but money prospects at the very least.

Line of David - He ran those last three furlongs at Oaklawn in 38 1/5, and still didn't get caught. One real positive is that it was a nice move forward moving up to stakes company in his first race on dirt. Here's hoping that he won't bounce enough to not run very fast early so he can set the race up for others I like.

Stately Victor - Two wins came on turf and the Keeneland Poly, and I've always considered the latter to be the closest amongst the synthetics to grass. Sure, there's a price at which he's worth a stab, but I'm gonna take a stand on principle and toss.

American Lion - Another one like Line of David who'd shown some speed on the California synthetics, but then moved up in wire-to-wire stakes wins on dirt. (Good sign for Sidney's Candy.) And like the Ark Derby winner, he won despite slowing down considerably at the end, and that won't do here, at this distance, even in a field as compromised as this.

Dean's Kitten - 0 for 1 on dirt. Ken Ramsey had so much confidence in this horse that he desperately ran Pleasant Price back in the Derby Trial.

Make Music For Me - Oh. OK. And the name of the band is what I'll be saying if this horse wins.

Paddy O'Prado - O'Why?

Devil May Care - May be the most overbet horse with no shot in the field.

Conveyance - Baffert's other colt seems nearly guaranteed to be a part of the pace least we hope so! Haven't discussed this one too much because I'm figuring he's just a tool to set the race up for many of us bettors, and perhaps for the trainer as well. Some feel he'll make the lead; recent Moss pace figures suggest he'll be hard pressed to clear Line of David. I'm not really taking him seriously; I'm a loser if he's still around after a mile and a quarter; his dosage index (yeah, I still follow that stuff) suggests he won't.

Jackson Bend - One thing we can say for him is that he always gives an honest effort, but so does Governor Paterson. Not blind, but too slow and appears distance challenged with a 6.20 dosage index too.

Mission Impazible - No, not Sarah Palin's answer to the question: What is your favorite all-time TV series....well, maybe....but rather he of the slow but steadily improving numbers that have some Sheets guys all excited. Will be a different story here from his ground saving trip in Louisiana, as even Peter Graves wouldn't be able to find the wood here from post 14. Seems a bit questionable pedigree-wise too. But he was tractable in traffic and determined in the stretch of that last effort, eligible to improve and will be on my tickets somewhere. Hope they don't self-destruct five seconds after the start.

Discreetly Mine - One Pletcher too many.

Awesome Act - I get the feeling that this might be this year's wise guy horse; already see that Davidowitz picked him, and some other really smart guys I know like him too. I was skeptical going into the Gotham, but that race gets more impressive every time I watch, especially if I pretend he was actually beating anyone worthwhile. Everybody knows the excuses in the Wood, though forget the shoe I say; the pace was enough to doom him, and Leparoux won't have to strangle him back here. Tons of stamina in this pedigree (though mostly the grassy kind). Like his chances, but may be getting a little too crowded on the bandwagon for my taste.

Dublin - Improved numbers at three, which corresponds to his stretching out to two turns. Has fallen a bit short in all three preps this year, but there's a bit of Giacomo/Mine That Bird in these kind of past performance lines. Certainly doesn't seem impossible if the racing gods decide to shine Lukas' way.

Backtalk - Nothing to talk about.

Homeboykris - Has no shot, but at least a good thing for Ramon Dominguez that the race isn't in Arizona.

Sidney's Candy - Could be the key to the race depending on how he takes to the dirt. I know that Big Brown won from this post, but he's not Big Brown. Or maybe he is on dirt, we don't know. If he is, he can use his speed to get good position behind the leaders and go on from there. Problem is that his morning line is far too short to compensate for the questions presented by the surface switch, post position, and that nagging question of whether he can indeed stalk and rally. Obviously talented, fast, and improving, and would take a long look for the win spot at 10-1.

Who do I like? Awesome Act, Lookin at Lucky, Super Saver....and a bit of Dublin, Mission Impazible, Noble's Promise, Sidney's Candy. Still trying to sort it out, and honestly may not do so until I'm scrambling to get a bet in with 8 MTP. Good thing I'm not getting paid for this.


El Angelo said...

Your Ramon Dominguez comment almost made me choke on my breakfast.

onecalicocat said...

At least in the Indy 500 they have to take a driver's test, Miguel Mena in a 20-horse field is scary.

steve in nc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steve in nc said...

Love the AZ poke as well. My Turf Paradise hat will stay in the closet for the foreseeable.

I've decided to toss McPeek's horse despite the good workout. I wouldn't want to go into my longest and hardest race recovering from even a cold. And I think Beautician is not the filly she was.

If Super Saver keeps getting overbet, I'll be on Dublin or American Lion. Box those three with your horse, Alan. I agree that LaL should hit the board. Wish i could box 'em for a dime instead of a buck - only doing it so I don't jump off a bridge if it comes in.

steve in nc said...

OK, now the owner of Unrivaled Belle says he dreamed last year his filly beat Rachael Alexandra.

I'd just better not dream about Backtalk tonight.

Anonymous said...

Is the Rachel conversation over? Told you she'd lose again. Last year was a bad group, and the super filly was mere illusion.


SaratogaSpa said...

I love the Gov. Paterson reference, with the RD-Ariz. reference made me laugh twice! have a great derby weekend all.

rolifantje said...


great analysis. The one horse I disagree with is Stately Victor. Read the comments on, I think he has a shot.

DiscreetPicks said...

steve in nc said...

Anyplace for streaming video of the Oaks? No Bravo here.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to all on Saturday. I would be a whole lot more enthused about this Derby if I were in Louisville! Impossible, though, not to get a tear in my eye when the band strikes up My Old Kentucky Home, even on the telly!

My picks? haven't the foggiest, hoping inspiration strikes just as they put riders up and head for the post, as it did with Ferdinand in '86, my best Derby score ever. Charlie Whittingham and The Shoe at 25-1 were just obvious hunch bets that year.

Not much to talk about since, guess I jumped the shark long ago in the Derby handicapping department. My sentimental choice for Saturday is Lookin At Lucky, and to go on to the Triple. Baffert in the winner's circle once again would be good for racing. /S/greenmtnpunter

Steve D said...

Not sure why everyone is down on Backtalk. The old Kentucky Derby rule - the spirit behind the dual qualifier requirement - was that the horse had to show some superiority (brilliance) at 2, and be bred to run 10 furlongs. When I look at Backtalk, he fits. His comeback race was in the slop and he won in spite of himself. He left his Illinois Derby on the track in Louisiana when he worked 6f in 109 and change at the Fair Grounds. Additionally, he didn't run so bad considering the pace scenario. I'm not saying he's a "Best Bet" but he has a chance to crash the exotics at 50-1. Otherwise, I like LaL, Awesome Act and Super Saver.

Unknown said...

Big thanks to Steve in NC for the handicapping insight; this will be a carryover for many Derbys to come. I also like Awesome Act, yet I can’t quite see him winning the thing . . . That’s the problem this year: even after tossing half the field, I can’t seem to find anyone who can actually win the thing. I have no choice but to read the excellent gambling story “The Rocking-Horse Winner" and hope for the best in this crapshoot. Good luck to everyone, and thanks for all the insight on this wonderful blog!

Anonymous said...

Awesome Act is second choice in the Oaks/Derby DD.