Well, it is that time of year again in the Bluegrass State. Men and women are getting out their Derby Hats. Restaurants are filled to the brim with out-of-towners, and fans are getting ready with the Mint Juleps. This Saturday, May 5, 2012 will be the 138th Running of the Kentucky Derby.
About a week or two ago, I blogged about just some of the horses running in Saturday’s Run for the Roses. This time, I go into a little more detail. There will be an expected field of 20 horses, even though this year, there are 21 entered. This year, they introduced what is called an “Also Eligible” list. What that is is there are horses listed that also qualify but are not in the field because the field is filled to capacity. If any horse already entered is scratched by Friday, May 4th at 9:00 am, then the horse from the “Also Eligible” list is entered.
Anyway, today was the Kentucky Derby Draw. That is the process where all twenty horses in the starting gate are in an order, and then a pill is drawn, and a corresponding number of the post position of the horse whose name is drawn is assigned. For example, the number 3 came up, and the horse’s name that came up was “Take Charge Indy.” Well, Take Charge Indy was given the #3 post position. Another number comes up at random such as #10. That number was for post position 10 , and that went to Daddy Nose Best, and so and and so forth. Well, after the draw, NBC Sports’ horse racing analyst oddsmaker Mike Battaglia assigned odds based on past performances, the horses’ workouts, and their post post positions that they drew, and made Bodemeister who drew post position 6 as the favorite at 4-1.
Here is the field for the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY with the odds as given by Battaglia. Listed in order are the owners, trainer, and jockey. Post Time for the Kentucky Derby is approximately 6:24pm EST. Underneath each horse’s name, I will give my opinion of his chances of winning. I love horse racing as a SPORT mainly as I admire these horses, and jockey as the great athletes and tacticians they are. Of course, the trainers are awesome as well. However, I have bet a time or two, and have no moral qualms against it, but I don’t regularly, but I have followed this sport for over 35 years so I think I can give pretty good advice. However, everyone has their own way of handicapping, and this is just my opinion, so here goes:
1. Daddy Long Legs (Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith; Aidan O’Brien; Colm O’Donoghue), 30-to-1
ME: I had to look up this horse. . He won the UAE Derby this year in Dubai. Pass.
2. Optimizer (Bluegrass Hall; D. Wayne Lukas; Jon Court), 50-to-1
ME: Outside of the second place in the Rebel Stakes, I don’t see much to like here for the Lukas trained colt.
3. Take Charge Indy (Chuck and Maribeth Sandford; Patrick Byrne; Calvin Borel), 15-to-1
ME: Huge fan of TCI’s dam, Take Charge Lady. This horse will get bet down due to post position being close to rail and due to the jockey, but my concern is whether the horse will get caught up in a possible torrid pace up front.
4. Union Rags (Chadds Ford Stable; Michael Matz; Julien Leparoux), 9-to-2
ME: Loved this horse as a 2 year old. Despite the head loss to Hansen on same track, I think he still should have been 2 year old champion. Post position is not all that a concern. I still love the horse, but if he had traffic trouble in the Florida Derby, I am concerned about traffic in a 20 horse field. However, he has looked great since arriving. One to watch.
5. Dullahan (Donegal Racing; Dale Romans; Kent Desormeaux), 8-to-1
ME: The last horse to win the Bluegrass Stakes and then the Kentucky Derby was the late Strike the Gold who did it in 1991. Dullahan has yet to win on dirt, and from the looks of things, I think Strike the Gold’s achievement is safe again this year. Dullahan MAY round up a Superfecta. I emphasize MAY. Dullahan has a chance to make history as his dam (mother) also gave birth to 2009 Derby winner, Mine that Bird.
6. Bodemeister (Zayat Stables; Bob Baffert; Mike Smith), 4-to-1
ME: This is the most impressive of the Derby horses as far as preps. 9 1/2 length winner of the Arkansas Derby. Bob Baffert has a real shot with a great one here. Mike Smith has to keep this horse out of trouble, and out of a speed duel with Trinneberg, Hansen, and Take Charge Indy, and hold off onslaughts of late comers. Can this horse do it is the big question as he is lightly raced. No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two year old. Will Bodemeister bounce? I really like this horse nonetheless.
7. Rousing Sermon (Tree Top Ranches; Jerry Hollendorfer; Jose Lezcano), 50-to-1
ME: Didn’t show much in the Louisiana Derby to impress me. Pass
8. Creative Cause (Heinz Steinmann; Mike Harrington; Joel Rosario), 12-to-1
ME: Defeated Bodemeister in the San Felipe Stakes, and finished a narrow head to I’ll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby where he did not have the blinkers on. It sounds like he won’t have the blinkers on in the Derby either as only Liason, and Went the Day Well were mentioned as having blinkers. Anyway, from what I have been hearing, his workouts have been just alright. He may have a shot. I am not as high on him winning as I once was.
9. Trinniberg (Shivananda Parbhoo; Bisnath Parboo; Willie Martinez), 50-to-1
ME: This horse is what I would call a “no hoper.” Vince McMahon would say “no chance in hell.” I mean, it is great to want to run your horse in the Derby. That is a dream of most horse owners, but really? You run a horse that has not even gone a mile? Well, Ok then. Trinniberg is going to just be a pain, unless he tries to wire the field like War Emblem did in 2002. I don’t think this horse can do it. It would be a shame if this Trinniberg was another Songandaprayer type of horse who cooked up a hot Kentucky Derby pace in 2001 and pretty much cost horse racing a Triple Crown winner as Point GIven who was within 5 lenghts of that Derby pace got fried and wound up fifth in the Derby, but won the Preakness and Belmont. I can still imagine poor Bob Baffert, Point Given’s trainer, and that look on his face at the Belmont when Point Given won that Belmont so easily. “What might have been.” Anyway, throw out Trinniberg, and just hope he doesn’t screw up the race too bad. He really does not belong in this race.
10. Daddy Nose Best (Bob and Cathy Zollars; Asmussen; Garrett Gomez), 15-to-1
ME: I don’t see this horse with the roses, but I recommend using him in your exotics. He is a tough little guy, and will run hard every time.
11. Alpha (Godolphin Racing; Kiaran McLaughlin; Rajiv Maragh), 15-to-1
ME: I love that he has Alydar (my all time favorite) in his second dam in his bloodline, but I don’t think so, despite a good, but troubled second place finish in the Wood Memorial.
12. Prospective (John Oxley; Mark Casse; Luis Contreras), 30-to-1
ME: I don’t see this horse having much of a shot. Pass
13. Went the Day Well (Team Valor International and Mark Ford; Graham Motion; John Velazquez), 20-to-1
ME: The crew that brought us last year’s winner, Animal Kingdom, brings us Went The Day Well . Will lightning strike twice? I don’t think so.
14. Hansen (Kendall Hansen and Skychai Racing; Mike Maker; Ramon Dominguez), 10-to-1
ME: Well, here is another speedster, but this is the two year old champion. I don’t think his breeding will allow him to get the distance, but we will see. I am not a huge Tapit fan. Outside post could hurt him a little as well.
15. Gemologist (WinStar Farm; Todd Pletcher; Javier Castellano), 6-to-1
ME: I really like this horse. He is unbeaten. He is by Tiznow. I thought he showed a lot of toughness in the Wood Memorial by turning back Alpha.
16. El Padrino (Let’s Go Stable; Pletcher; Rafael Bejarano), 20-to-1
ME: Don’t give the Risen Star winner a big chance here.
17. Done Talking (Skeedattle Stable; Hamilton Smith; Sheldon Russell), 50-to-1
ME: The winner of the Illinois Derby is a nice story, but no roses.
18. Sabercat (Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC; Steve Asmussen; Corey Nakatani), 30-to-1
ME: He got whooped by Bodemeister in the Arkansas Derby. I don’t see Roses for him.
19. I’ll Have Another (J. Paul Reddam; Doug O’Neill; Mario Gutierrez), 12-to-1
ME: This horse has looked pretty good recently, and is the winner of the Santa Anita Derby. The 19th post is not all that detrimental to him. If he runs his race, he could hit the board. I like this horse to do well.
20. Liaison (Arnold Zetcher; Baffert; Martin Garcia), 50-to-1
ME: Longshot by Baffert. Outside post does not help either.
AE -My Adonis (George and Lori Hall; Kelly Breen; Elvis Trujillo), 50-to-1
Throw out with confidence even if he gets in.
That was how I feel about this year’s field of Kentucky Derby contenders. I think it is a very talented field honestly, and there are several of them who I think have a realistic chance of winning the Derby. It will be after the race is over, of course, we will get into whether the horse can win the Preakness, but I have narrowed down my top horses for the Kentucky Derby this year:
1. Union Rags 2. Bodemeister 3. Gemologist 4.Creative Cause 5. Take Charge Indy.
Those are my top 5. However, I went through the draw, and listened to some commentary, and some analysis. I generally do not like to read a ton of analysis as I like to develop my own opinion, and not listen to much , if any of others. I like to make up my own mind, and liver or die on my own sword so to speak.
So, my top three Derby horses are Bodemeister, Union Rags,and Gemologist. I just love these guys. Bodemeister, IMO, is the best one as far as the one with the best prep, and he has been working great at Churchill. As I said though, he has some baggage (has not raced as a 2 year old, may possibly bounce, etc). Nonetheless, I sincerely think he somehow is able to hang on and capture the Roses.
Kentucky Derby Pick: Bodemeister
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/missedgehead