Written by: Stackin’ Green Special Guest to: The Derby Post
138th Kentucky Derby Analysis and Recommendations
Hello racing fans, once again it is that time of the year. The time to enjoy the smells of your local dungeon-like OTB with its unsavory crowds huddled in every corner or to get cozy in the warm confines of your living room to watch “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Fresh off of last year’s live longshot Animal Kingdom across the board play (along with some hefty exotics, the $2 trifecta last year paid out almost $4000) and with cash in hand, I’m back again to try to make it rain. This handicapper has to tell you though that the field is deep and it is going to be a real challenge. To every positive there is a negative, as the increasing challenge may bring exuberant payouts. Let us see if we can make some sense and pick some winners.
The news you’ll hear over and over this year entering the race will be the buzz around the favorite, Bodemeister, not just because of his top 108 Beyer Speed Figure but because he is attempting to become the first Derby winner unraced at 2 years of age. Apollo did it in 1882 but like all of these other magic elixir standards that are mentioned every year, it is just a matter of time before the next one falls given the unconventional transition of racing in the modern day.
Last year Animal Kingdom hadn’t run on dirt until the Derby. Before that, the 5-week layoff rule was in effect until Barbaro won. Big Brown was lightly raced and won from post position 20. It is interesting to note that Curlin was unraced at 2 and finished 3rd in the Derby in 2007 before going on to win the Preakness and horse of the Year. The linking factor in all of these “rules” is that when you tally up the number of horses who go against the grain, they are very few. It would mean a lot more if there weren’t so many factors that were uncommon about the Kentucky Derby: namely 20 horse fields, maturing 3-year-old colts and big crowds with more pressure than most young racehorses have seen. Given the complexity of this race it’s no wonder that very few trying means very few winning. We’ll see if this is a problem for Bodemeister.
Back to the race. This field is deep, a much better crop than last year’s group, although the speed parameters are comparatively lacking. Still, the prep races have really brought out quite a few interesting story lines and angles. The rabbit of the race, Trinniberg, has never run a mile race and is pure speed and hope. This presents a conundrum for pace handicappers. Take Charge Indy, Hansen, Bodemeister, and I’ll Have Another all race on the lead and might be taken out of their element if they get into a crazy speed duel on top.
The odds are that a fast pace will set up nicely for stalkers and the deep closers who can actually get through the wave of 15 horses backing up near the turn for home. For me, that leaves a few horses from whom to choose. Gemologist has run on the Churchill Downs track twice, is undefeated, and may not have shown his best yet. His win in the Wood Memorial was nothing spectacular but showed resolve when confronted by a stretch running Alpha.
Union Rags has been training well, looks like he is coming into the race in classic Michael Matz form and has the adaptability to navigate the track and pace scenario. Daddy Nose Best may be somewhat of the wise-guy horse but has been training awfully well, has Gomez on the ride and looks to be in the right place at the right time. Bodemeister might be a monster but I’m going to play against him at 4-1 odds given the lack of foundation and pace scenario. He may be a superstar in the making but this race sometimes can’t even be won by the best horse.
Creative Cause was a horse I liked for a while but he hasn’t come into his own at Churchill. I’m discouraged a bit by his workouts although you can’t fault his past races – always in the money and having run in stakes races nearly his entire career. He runs late but seems bothered by crowding, something of which he will definitely encounter Saturday. Horses useful beneath in exotics include El Padrino, I’ll Have Another, Take Charge Indy, the longshot Sabercat and possibly Alpha. Here’s my final handicapping list:
- Union Rags
- Daddy Nose Best
- Creative Cause
- El Padrino
- I’ll Have Another
As usual I play win/place/show, exactas and trifectas. I’ll even hope for the superfecta. But for the purposes of plays here, sprinkle my top two selections in your exotics with the others filling beneath. I will bet Gemologist WPS and have several trifectas including my top three, even with Daddy Nose Best on top. If you have any questions, feel free to inquire within as I will be playing hopefully a live pick 4 ticket, among other things, entering Race 11. Best of Luck, Let’s Cash Some Tickets!