So here we are on the cusp of the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (last time I use THAT!) and the world is waiting to see what horse it is they should avoid tomorrow; the horse that Ted will curse with the appellation of “his” Derby horse. Sure, you may scoff at the curse, but I will point out that after the Fountain of Youth I laid claim to Eskendereyea as “the One” on Facebook. No need to tell you what happened to that poor guy. I’m sure that Joe Talamo is hoping and praying that I don’t choose Sidney’s Candy. You may recall that last year my pre-race choice, I Want Revenge, scratched as the MORNING LINE FAVORITE leaving Joe without a Derby mount! Sorry, bud.
If I were betting all 136 Derbies, no doubt I would be 0 - 136, but a quitter I am not, so here we go again…
1. Lookin at Lucky – Hard to see a better effort than the one he put in to win the Rebel. By all accounts, Gomez cost him in the Santa Anita Derby so you can be sure he will try and keep him out of harms way. Probably easier said than done coming out of the 1 spot.
2. Ice Box – A fantastic late run to win the Florida Derby after getting smoked in the Fountain of Youth. In a field of this size he’ll need to revert to stalking the pace rather than trying to overcome it from way behind. MINE THAT BIRD notwithstanding, it is tough to navigate a field this size from back in the pack.
3. Noble’s Promise – Only a bridesmaid in 2010 and has not been near as impressive as others have been. With all the trouble LOOKIN AT LUCKY had, he could still not hold on for the win in the Rebel and couldn’t overcome trouble of his own in the Arkansas Derby either.
4. Super Saver – A favorite of many, his front running style should keep him out of trouble but there are going to be other frontrunners to contend with, especially on his right shoulder. I don’t know if he’ll be able to get there.
5. Line of David – We all know where this one is going to be out of the gate. Once they let him take the bit and run he’s 3 for 3 with his key win being the turf to dirt triumph in the Arkansas Derby.
6. Stately Victor – Great name but two attempts on dirt were less than inspiring. Won the Bluegrass easily, but was not the deepest Derby prep race either.
7. American Lion – Talk about your weak fields, it’s hard to imagine that the Illinois Derby winner is going to be able to really tackle this group, though if he can rate rather than trying the lead, he could end up surprising at a price.
8. Dean’s Kitten – The Lane’s End winner has been on the steady improve the last few months getting better with each effort. His PPs scream turf specialist, but has been working well over the main track.
9. Make Music for Me - He’s been coming into his own lately after an 0-fer 2 year old campaign which saw him compete in only 1 maiden race. Still eligible for a non-winners of 2 allowance. This would be a huge surprise.
10. Paddy O’Prado – Had some nice efforts recently, but again, only over turf/synthetic. Turned in a bullet work over a sloppy Churchill track which is what he is likely to see tomorrow as well.
11. Devil May Care – One of only three in the field to earn a triple digit Beyer (100), the filly will need to prove that the 100 earned in the Bonnie Miss was no fluke since it was a huge jump when compared to her past efforts.
12. Conveyance – Another sexy choice, but I just don’t see this one carrying his speed a mile and a quarter. If anything, he will join the fray up front and make it that much harder for any of the frontrunners to win this one.
13. Jackson Bend – Lucky number 13. He’s 3 for 3 in the bridemaid category this season so far with two of those losses coming at the hands of my initial choice, ESKENDEREYA. His style looks to suite the shape of this race, but he may be a notch below the best in here.
14. Mission Impazible – It may very well be just that for the Louisiana Derby winner. However, he seems to be improving with each race and each increase in distance. He’s proven to run well in the slop and could be sitting in a nice position behind the speed to make a difference in the end.
15. Discreetly Mine – Was a beaten favorite in the slop in the Spectacular Bid, but had other troubles in there as well. It doesn’t appear that he’ll be able to rate off the hot early pace and that could spell big trouble for the Mineshaft colt.
16. Awesome Act – Followed up a great win in the Gotham with a troubled trip in the Wood, though he still was nearly able to hold off Jackson Bend for second. Hard to tell if the wide trip or the extra distance tripped him up.
17. Dublin – Though close in some difficult preps, this one hasn’t won since the Hopeful last season. After being beaten by as many as 5 of these, it’s hard to imagine that he will get just that much better this time out.
18. Backtalk – Does not even have a Beyer over 90. I know I said after last year that I would never say never again…but - not a snowball’s chance in hell.
19. Homeboykris – Another without a 90+ Beyer. Couldn’t even win an allowance last out which was back in February. Would be a miracle.
20. Sidney’s Candy – An alert break would make all the difference for this one. With two non-descript horses on the inside of him and no early speed until you get to the 15 spot, Talamo may get a break and into the mix early, like the horse wants, without as much early exertion as you would think coming out of the 20 hole. In 2010 he has been a machine going three for three, though some would say Lookin at Lucky’s trip could have only made that 2 for 3.
So that’s the field. Where do I see the race going? It’s tough to say because we know that there is virtually no chance of the track being fast come race time given the forecast of heavy rain through Friday and Saturday in Louisville. Super Saver is the only one of the contenders that has had a win in the slop, but that’s not saying much because most of the rest have only run on fast tracks.
Several of our contenders also are coming into this race only running on synthetic/turf – more than I feel I’ve ever seen coming into a Kentucky Derby. I’m not sold on the horses prepping over synthetic and then coming into the Derby. Pioneerof the Nile had a nice run last year, but still wasn’t the winner. I also think he was exceptional and I don’t know if any of these contenders come across as exceptional.
There will be speed to burn up front and there will be a few trying to close from the back. I think the ideal spot is going to be behind that burning speed as trying to close over what promises to be a sloppy track is going to be next to impossible. Here is how I see the finish:
1. Mission Impazible
2. Lookin at Lucky
3. Awesome Act
4. Ice Box
My apologies to Twin Creeks Racing Stable and Todd Pletcher.