Thursday, April 30, 2009

Here We Go Again - 135th Kentucky Derby

It’s time for me to give it the ol’ college try again. For the 25th consecutive year I will attempt to do something that I have not been able to do: pick the winner of a Kentucky Derby. If you read the last post, you know my record of futility. In my opinion, it’s even tougher now. Now we have to try and diagnose how synthetic form will translate to dirt. In some cases it’ll work out just fine (see I Want Revenge) in others (see last year’s California invaders) it will not.

Here is the rundown:

1 West Side Bernie – Much better dirt form than synthetic. Last prep (Wood) was excellent.

2 Musket Man – Excellent closer and has been getting better with each race.

3 Mr. Hot Stuff – I think he’s just a cut below these and needs to adjust to the dirt.

4 Advice – Best races on synthetic and one race on dirt was a disappointment.

5 Hold Me Back – Another hot synthetic horse with good efforts in the Lanes End and Blue Grass.

6 Friesan Fire – Great 3 race streak. He’s improved every race out. Huge win in the slop (though it looks like the Louisville weather will clear by Saturday). Big question: “The Layoff”.

7 Papa Clem – He’s been good on synthetic and dirt. He seems to be improving as he stretches out.

8 Mine That Bird – Why?

9 Join in the Dance – Why?

10 Regal Ransom – Great win in the UAE Derby and has been training well in KY.

11 Chocolate Candy – Strictly synthetic form, but a fine work over the surface on April 27.

12 General Quarters – Big win in the Davis at Tampa in first route effort, but thumped in the TB Derby.

13 I Want Revenge – Monster win in the Gotham after brutal trip. Solid works at CD.

14 Atomic Rain – Why?

15 Dunkirk – Solid 2nd to scratched Quality Road in a big effort.

16 Pioneerof the Nile – Great streak. Excellent speed. All synthetic form.

17 Summer Bird – tough with this resume.

18 Nowhere to Hide – Why?

19 Desert Party – Upset by stablemate in the UAE and is also training very well.

20 Flying Private – Why?

I’ve got to agree with Handride that this race is way too large. I truly do not believe it's good for a horse to run in a race that is way over his head. I think the damage long term is great. For the vanity of an owner that can say "I had a horse in the Derby", the poor horse will never be the same. Strip out the pretenders and this field should only be 15. Fourteen if you scratch Summer Bird as well. But alas, that won’t be the case and it could very well be that racing luck plays a greater role in this than it should.

Once you weed out the “whys”, you’re still left with a very deep field. In fact, based upon my own betting principles, I wouldn’t bet this race at all. This one to me is a ‘watcher’. But now the streak has taken on a life of its own. It’s been 24 straight years of futility and I’m not going to let a little thing like an unplayable race keep me from leaving myself out there with my top three.

My sincerest apologies to the connections of my top choice:

I’m going with I Want Revenge. I think he’s the strongest horse in this group. His preps have been strong and has show the ability to overcome crowding and trouble which they’re all bound to encounter here. He has tactical speed and could be very well placed near the front of the pack. I don’t see the mile and a quarter being an issue for him as he handled a mile and an eighth with ease. Though he was beaten by Pioneerof the Nile and Papa Clem in the Lewis, it was over the synthetic and IWR has been a monster on the dirt. He’s got speed, heart, determination and I think he’ll have the stamina.

My top 3:

1. I Want Revenge
2. Friesan Fire
3. Papa Clem


1. Friesan Fire
2. Papa Clem
3. Pioneerof the Nile


Superfecta said...

Oh noes - you've already used 'why' for all the ones I was going to ask 'why' - I'll need to come up with something new...

Teresa said...

Given the scratch of I Want Revenge this morning, your Derby picking may have reached a new low!

Ted Grevelis said...

Holy crap! My flight just landed and I did not know this!! I'm so, so sorry to the connections. Wow, I've never had that happen before...

Shelley said...

Why? Because if we knew who was going to win, we wouldn't race, would we? :)