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Kentucky Derby 2010 – On The Record

Kentucky Derby Winner's Circle

Just add water (and possibly hail)

While I was certainly not alone in failing to pick the Derby winner on purpose last year, we did win the pool at the Derby party we attended, but it was entirely accidental – when we got down to the last few options, Mine That Bird stuck out only for having Calvin Borel aboard, and he was duly chosen.   This year seems wide-open, and perhaps because of the little Birdstone colt’s surprise victory, there are (as has become tradition) a few horses who really should not be here.  (You can always refer back to our previous entries about how a twenty-horse field used to be the exception, rather than the rule).  So far, the award for best quote about this year’s Derby goes (unsurprisingly) to Bob Baffert, who said, ‘Plan A is to break well. Plan B is we’re screwed.’

Indeed – and that really goes for just about everyone.

Once we factor in some potentially very unpleasant weather, it gets even more complicated – although it would be hard to argue that, say, Sunday Silence or Smarty Jones would have been beaten on a fast track.

And so, without further ado, the Derby field:

Lookin At Lucky / G K Gomez / 126  / B Baffert
I’ll begin by saying I love Bob Baffert – it’s great to see him back at the Derby with a talented horse. I don’t think the post position is as much of an issue as some believe (as is widely noted, the 1 is one of the winningest spots), but with Calvin trying to get on the rail a few slots over, it could be tricky.
Positives: Solid seasoning, great pedigree, has handled traffic before and has the talent.
Negatives: Will the absence of blinkers be a help or hindrance – and will his recent bad luck continue to follow him?

Ice Box / J Lezcano / 126 / N P Zito
The Nick Zito trainee took a few tries to break his maiden, but his Florida Derby win is what put him on the map here. Was it too long ago? Does anyone even care about that anymore?
Positives: A definite closer, which can be a huge asset in this race.
Negatives: Only has one Beyer near the triple-digit mark (which is not unusual for this field) – is he a notch below the best?

Noble’s Promise / W Martinez / 126 / K G McPeek
This horse has been growing on me for the past few weeks; he’s always had a good excuse for his few less-than-stellar performances, and he’s overcome a lot recently. Lowish figures could be a concern, but he’s one of my top picks.
Positives: Highest Tomlinson in the field – if it’s wet, he could relish it.
Negatives: Is he fully recovered from his illness and minor scratches last time out?

Super Saver / C H Borel / 126 /  T A Pletcher
One of the ‘other’ Pletcher horses – at least, he was before Eskendereya was knocked out. I keep going back and forth on him, but he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on, especially if it rains; his post position may be almost ideal for his jockey.
Positives: Has won in the rain – and has Calvin Bo-rail aboard.
Negatives: Has not beaten the best in this field before.

Line of David / R Bejarano / 126 /  J W Sadler
The upset winner of the Arkansas Derby previously had only won in allowance company; his connections have been openly displeased by his workouts here.
Positives: I do like his breeding – Lion Heart was underrated, in my opinion. Another high Tomlinson.
Negatives: None of the on-site reports this week have been positive.

Stately Victor / A Garcia / 126 / M J Maker
The regally-bred son of Ghostzapper was also a shocker last time out when he took the Blue Grass.
Positives: I’m sure he will be a lovely turf horse later; has placed over a wet surface.
Negatives: Seems outclassed here; not his surface.

American Lion /  D R Flores / 126 / E G Harty
He is another longshot I’ve been warming to, although I’m not fully convinced yet. He needed his Illinois Derby win to get here, but he’s been a bit hit and miss in the past. Still, he could be peaking at the right time.
Positives: Yet another big Tomlinson; should get the distance easily, at least from a pedigree perspective.
Negatives: A bit lightly-raced and has not faced this sort of competition.

Dean’s Kitten /  R Albarado / 126 / M J Maker
He’s been trading places with Paddy O’Prado in a number of turf races – and his connections surely know that’s where he excels.
Positives: Beautiful (turf) pedigree.
Negatives: He’s a turf horse who can also run on synthetics. Dirt does not seem to be his thing.

Make Music for Me / J Rosario / 126 / A Barba
Barely scraped into the field, but has run well with the likes of Lookin At Lucky on a number of occasions. His last race, the Blue Grass, was odd enough that we might throw it out, but it’s hard to evaluate.
Positives: Has finished second to Lookin At Lucky twice – both times with awkward trips.
Negatives: Low Beyers (although that’s partially a function of having run on synthetics), no starts over conventional dirt.

Paddy O’Prado /  K J Desormeaux / 126 / D L Romans
This horse has apparently been working fantastically well at Churchill Downs – even if everything about him screams ‘turf.’ Let’s also recall that he has a single win to his credit, but he could be peaking at the right time.
Positives: Perhaps he has a real affinity for the Churchill Down surface.
Negatives: Seems he would be better placed on the grass.

Devil May Care /  J R Velazquez / 121 / T A Pletcher
I’m very pleased to see the filly here – and think she’s in with a real chance. She’s got blinkers on to keep her focused, and note that she is the first horse we’ve discussed so far with a triple-digit Beyer.
Positives: Gets a weight break, has won in the rain, wants the distance – and has run faster than most of these colts.
Negatives: Lightly raced and can get fussy in the gate.

Conveyance / M Garcia / 126 / B Baffert
The ‘other’ Bob Baffert horse won the San Rafael and the Southwest on his way here and has been flying a bit under the radar.
Positives: Has always finished in the money.
Negatives: Lightly raced and a bit of a step up in class.

Jackson Bend / M E Smith / 126 / N P Zito
There was concern for some time that he would not make the race, despite a respectable record of wins and close finishes to Eskendereya. Luckily, he made it in – and he also has a triple-digit Beyer in his record, albeit one from last year.
Positives: Seasoning, a real dirt record and Nick Zito in his corner.
Negatives: If it rains, is he in trouble?

Mission Impazible /  R Maragh / 126 / T A Pletcher
This is not the horse’s fault, but he violates my Good Names for G1 Horses principles – and I actually like the horse he beat in the Louisiana Derby, A Little Warm, a bit better.  I don’t have a solidly logical reason for not liking him here, but there it is.
Positives: Finished third in the Kentucky Juvenile – last year. Has earned some money on a wet track.
Negatives: Can he help Todd Pletcher add to his last-place-finish record?

Discreetly Mine / J Castellano / 126 / T A Pletcher
Winner of the Risen Star only has a MSW to his credit otherwise, but that first win was in the mud. Yet another from the Pletcher barn, he showed little in the Louisiana Derby.
Positives: Has some good experience, if few wins.
Negatives: Seems a bit out of his element here.

Awesome Act /  J R Leparoux / 126 / J Noseda
Began his career in Britain, although did not start winning until he came to the US and switching to dirt. He overcame some difficulties in the Gotham but was far outrun in the Wood, finishing third – although he had a terrible trip.
Positives: Has been training very well since arriving at Churchill Downs
Negatives: Difficult to evaluate how fast he really is, given his brief dirt record.

Dublin / T J Thompson / 126 / D W Lukas
The son of Afleet Alex seems to be more talented than his past performances would suggest, although he does have a G1 win to his credit (in the Hopeful). In his two victories, he was wide both times – could he be the first winner from this post position?
Positives: Trainer Lukas knows how to win the Derby, he seems to love Churchill Downs.
Negatives: Has not won this year (although he consistently finishes in the money).

Backtalk / M Mena / 126 / T M Amoss
Has more wins than many in this field – but most came last year.  He could be a factor, though, given the weather forecast.
Positives: Has won both of his outings in the rain – and his sire, Smarty Jones, won this race in sloppy conditions.
Negatives: Not much experience against this company.

Homeboykris /  R A Dominguez / 126 / R E Dutrow, Jr.
He has not run since February. He won the Champagne (last year), but his best effort this year was finishing second in a 44K allowance race.
Positives: Well, trainer Dutrow overcame the cursed 20-hole with Big Brown – but no one has ever won from 19.
Negatives: Yes.

Sidney’s Candy/ J Talamo/ 126 / J W Sadler
I’m not generally a fan of horses who have only prepped on synthetics, but I still like Sidney’s Candy. This post position is more of a worry, but it’s great to see Joe Talamo back in the Derby after last year’s debacle – especially on a horse he’s been with for his entire career.
Positives: Has a 100 Beyer – on synthetic, which may mask its true speed a bit. Great pedigree.
Negatives: Post position, lack of a dirt prep.

Before we get to the predictions, here are a few random factoids to consider:

Horses with a 100+ Beyer Youngest horses in the field
Sidney’s Candy
Devil May Care
Jackson Bend
Stately Victor – May 1
Devil May Care – May 7
Lookin At Lucky – May 27
Good Tomlinsons or win in mud Horses I’m tossing completely
Super Saver (win & place)
Devil May Care (win)
Backtalk (2 wins)
Discreetly Mine (win & off the board)
Stately Victor (place)
Noble’s Promise
American Lion
Awesome Act
Line of David
Line of David
Stately Victor
Dean’s Kitten
Make Music For Me
Mission Impazible

So, what does it all mean?  Does the fox that ran in front of my car this morning want me to pick the most vulpine entrant?  If so, who is it?  While my actual wagers will go in a variety of directions, it’s time to take a guess.

Prediction: Devil May Care, Noble’s Promise, Jackson Bend, Awesome Act (with Super Saver and American Lion in the mix, should it be even wetter than predicted).

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