Friday, April 25, 2008

Derby Picks are Like Opinions...

Everyone has one. This is my first public attempt to show the world that I can't pick a Derby winner to save my life. In fact, I don't think I've ever picked a Derby winner in all my years picking horses. That being said, I publicly stated my doomed choices for the Breeder's Cup my birthday weekend and lo and behold, I was pretty damn good. Maybe my Derby luck is about to change as well (but don't bet on it...seriously, don't bet on it).

As usual there are a lot of questions about the Derby contenders this year. One question I'm hearing more than ever is will artificial surface form hold at Churchill and, conversely, can you throw out a horse's artificial race if it was a clunker (most notably Pyro)? According to the future book, let's take a look at the top contenders and go from there:

Big Brown (3-1): Everybody's favorite. A dominating performance in the Florida Derby he blistered through four furlongs in 45.83 and six furlongs in 1:10.08 and easily drew off to win by 5. He raced greenly in the stretch, but it was only his 3rd career race and 2nd of 2008. His big question: is he prepped enough to go 1 1/4 with a full field?

Pyro (4-1): The Bluegrass was a mess. According to his connections you can "just throw a race like this out". His outings on dirt, as we have seen, have approached spectacular. The question in my mind is Did the Poly make THAT big a difference?

War Pass (6-1): OUT. However, it bears noting that his pace-setting style will be missing from the race and it will now play differently with his departure. The other point is his solid outing in the Wood, though injury or no injury I don't think he can get a mile and a quarter, after that horrible trouncing at Tampa. That was a case where folks said to not consider that race and they would have been correct.

Colonel John (12-1): Ran an impressive race in the Santa Anita Derby while mounting a huge closing kick. War Pass not being in the race could hurt him as well, but Recapturetheglory could take front running status from the former champion. He's only run on artificial in California, can his form hold on dirt?

El Gato Malo (12-1): After getting drilled by some of the Derby contenders in the Santa Anita, and I don't think the bad start was to blame, I don't think he'll factor.

Cool Coal Man (15-1): Love the name. I don't know why, it just appeals to me. But after barely holding on in the Fountain of Youth and falling off the fast pace in the Bluegrass, I don't think he has what it takes to win this race.

Denis of Cork (15-1): Another horse, if he makes the field, that really disappointed last out in the Illinois Derby. He and Atoned (30-1) just never fired and never really made it a race. If you can throw out this race, you have a contender, but I don't think you can.

All the other contenders are rated better than 20-1, but let's take a look at a few who could make an impact:

Z Fortune: What a race in the Arkansas Derby! Bobbled at the start and wide throughout, all that was nearly overcome but missed by a nose to Gayego. Gayego had it all his own way and barely held on for the win. He'll probably end up being up front with Recapturetheglory and should help insure a cavalry charge finish from the stellar closers in this group.

Visionaire: The Gotham winner had it rough in the Blue Grass as well. Is it a Poly thing?

The Pletcher Pair: Monba and Cowboy Cal ran 1-2 in the Bluegrass. Their performance begs the same question as Visionaire, was it a Poly thing? Monba got ripped in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, but has won over the Churchill surface before. Cowboy Cal is another that likes being on the front end and probably won't get away with the slow fractions he set in the Bluegrass with Gayego and Recapturetheglory in here.

Tale of Ekati: Though winner of the Wood and slayer of War Pass, I think this colt is a cut below the rest.

So how does one yahoo see the Derby shaping up? The early running horses will keep each other, and the pace, honest. That is my one fear for Big Brown - can he set sizzling fractions against some of the best 3 year old speed in the country and take this field? I don't think he can do it for a mile and quarter. I'm going to try and beat the favorite with the colts I consider to be the class of the closers. My top three:

1. Z Fortune
2. Colonel John
3. Big Brown

Good luck and enjoy the race!


PEM said...

Ted--post draw has everything to do with it--I will probably put up my two cents-but not until I see where they're breaking from.


Perfect Bull said...

That might be then, yet this is now; and the now horse is Big Brown and he rhymes with Triple Crown. Yet, I'm thinking we'll be saluting Colonel John on the first Saturday in May.

Ted G said...

PEM - I don't know about everything, but you end up in that auxillary gate, and you have a long way home. Should there be a significant impact from the post position, I will, as they say in Congress, "reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks".

Ted G said...

Perfect Bull - you may be right on with Colonel John. I went with Z mainly because of the big race he ran with all the trouble he encountered while being wide the entire trip. Whoever wins on Saturday will have to overcome his fair share of trouble with a full field. Should be exciting to watch.

PEM said...

Well if you want a pocketful of cash to plunge into the Derby on Saturday-drop a few bucks on Pure Clan in the Oaks.

PEM said...

1. Court Vision
2. Visionaire
3. Big Brown

Jason said...

1. Pyro
2. Z Fortune
3. Colonel John