Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Paulie looks at the 139th. Kentucky Derby
I've done a bit of Derby prognostication on the 139th. Kentucky Derby already here on this site. I outlined the horses that were gathering my interest at the time. All pretty solid contenders. You can scroll down and check it out. Send it to a relative or bill collector. I care not. It's my site and I write here about whatever I feel like. Today, it's Derby.
Since then, we've had a few more races that have further clouded the waters. So, this is a revised bunch of three-year olds that I am on the bandwagon with currently. I do believe, like in past years, there is no clear cut, odds-on favorite in this group of twenty-some contenders.
Based on the last two Derbies (I'll Have Another and Animal Kingdom) expect the unexpected and beware the longshots. Since I don't bet or handicap that way as a rule...I won't give much mention to those longshot contenders today. I will look at the top six horses in my selections first. Throw them all out and find something with a price. Derby is only 11 days away.
Pay close attention to Sonja's picks the day before the Oaks and Derby. She routinely has BIG days at the mutual window and does little handicapping. She has a couple of sources she checks every year for her last-minute, "cramming" for the horse racing 101 final and usually does better than me. No early warnings from Sonja, though. She handicaps (if you can call it that) the day before a race.
So, consider today's posting a tasty appetizer before the main entree. Jeff Walz is not your server, either.
This strange sport of handicapping.
I am still on VERRAZANO as my top pick. He did nothing to make me shy away from him in winning the Wood Memorial in New York and I do believe we saw less than 100% from the Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez trainer jockey duo in their strategy. Saving the big guy, winning and not having to exert much effort while doing so. Velazquez's riding injury is of a bit of concern...but he is expected to return to riding Derby Week and he is a crafty veteran who will negotiate a solid course for the horse.
ORB ran lights out in winning the Florida Derby and is a horse that looks like he can run all day. The mile and a quarter Derby distance shouldn't bother him at the least an he should be contending for the money as they pass the final 1/16th pole down that long, long Churchill Downs stretch. Trained by Shug McGaughey, this one just continues to stronger. Could be there to pick up the trophy if "V" fails. And, Joel (pronounced Joe-Al) Rosario gets the ride. He's made Keeneland his personal pleasure toy this spring, leading the meet in wins and getting VERY LIVE mounts.
GOLDENCENTS. A big win in the Santa Anita Derby. Ah, the connections! Doug O'Neill, he of the hats and loquacious comments. Rick Pitino, part owner of the horse. Unheralded Kevin Krigger in the reigns...a journeyman jockey who is finally getting his 15 minutes in the limelight. And, the horse was very impressive in winning the mile and an eighth on the left coast. Made a strategic move and outran the field to the wire. The only question here is if he can get the distance. I do expect to hear his name among the leaders as they turn for the homestretch at Churchill. The only question is whether he can outfox some very strong closers.
NORMANDY INVASION. I absolutely loved his closing kick (at a huge price) to finish second to Verrazano in the Wood. On that day, if the race had gone another sixteenth of a mile, he would have won. Chad Brown enlists the cagey Javier Castellano for the duties. If "Norm" catches a burn-out pace and can display that same quarter-mile late kick that had spectators raving...he could upset at a decent price. He's also become the "wise guys" pick. Weather conditions might be the only thing keeping him from blowing the doors off the field. A wet, cuppy and deep Churchill dirt...if it rains Derby Day...isn't the easiest to make a lot of ground up in...and "Norm" will be attempting to come out of the clouds as a closer on the first Saturday in May.
ITSMY LUCKYDAY. His second place finish to Orb wasn't a bad outing at all. He was in the lead until the final jumps and will probably sent there on Derby Day to pose as a "come catch me if you can" contender. Calder and Gulfstream Park heroes Edward Plesa and Elvis Trujillo team up on this guy to see if they can "steal" a Derby. He did appear to tire just a little in the Florida Derby at the wire...but given a big enough lead...it may not be a factor. The public probably won't give him much respect at the window and he'll definitely be a part of any "exotic" wagering I consider.
REVOLUTIONARY. Another Pletcher horse, he won the Louisiana Derby as most expected against a so-so field where My Lute, Golden Soul, and Code West were the only serious contenders. All four look to continue the feud at Churchill in the 139th. running. The key change here? Since Javier Castellano has chosen "Norm" ...CALVIN BOREL gets the ride. Repeat. CALVIN BOREL is on aboard. Yeah, that guy. Has won three Kentucky Derbies. Knows the track at Churchill Downs better than I know the contents of a bottle of Bud Select. Calvin Bo"rail"...who takes the shortest distance to the finish line by becoming a hobo and riding the rails. One that cannot be ignored.
These comments are only for entertainment purposes, of course. My buddy J.J. Hysell studies these four-legged warriors much closer than I and you can find her daily reports and updates on line. Just google IN THE MONEY or access her site over at CARDINAL COUPLE on the left side of the site.
I'll be back in a few days with a look at some horses that could surprise at a price. We'll also have Oaks and Derby Picks and Selections over at CARDINAL COUPLE on Friday and Saturday. It's the two days a year we abandon women's sports at UofL and concentrate on horse racing.
Some wish we wouldn't...