Hoping 138th Running of the Kentucky Derby Goes “Well”

May 04, 2012 | Gary Quill

Hoping 138th Running of the Kentucky Derby Goes “Well”

Christmas has finally arrived for thoroughbred horse players everywhere. Churchill Downs is to horse racing as Augusta National is to golf, as Daytona Speedway is to NASCAR, and as the Rose Bowl is to College Football. Rain or shine, nothing will dampen our enthusiasm come 6:24pm on Saturday as we watch the most exciting 2 minutes in sports.

The forecast for the Louisville area is for 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms throughout the day, high temperature in the low 80′s. That really throws a wrench into an already tough task of handicapping this race due to the fact the track condition could be labeled fast, good, sloppy or muddy come Derby race post time.

The balance in this 20 horse field is uncanny as far as their running styles. The way I see it there are…

4 – Early Speed
5 – Tactical Speed
5 – Mid-Pack (Plodders)
6 – Closers

The four (4) “Early Speed” horses will ensure fast, early fractions. The fact is that in Derby history only 22 winners have gone gate-to-wire. That’s 22 for 137! The last one to do it was War Emblem in 2002.

Here’s how I see the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands playing out, listed in my predicted order of finish. Odds shown are the current betting odds after Friday’s advanced wagering.

Keep in mind I’m picking horses 24 hours BEFORE they walk out on the track. If at all possible, you should not make your wager until you’ve seen the horses in the Post Parade (15 minutes before the start). When horses reach the track, their physical appearance and body language can tip you off on which one(s) to include in your Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta or simply WIN, PLACE and/or SHOW bet. Good Luck!

1st – #13Team Valor silks Went The Day Well
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Graham Motion / John Velazquez (13 1-1-0)
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Why he COULD win the Derby: has been running distance races and should not mind added 1/8th; has improved via speed rating in of his 3 races this year; team (owner, trainer & jockey) knows how to prepare a horse to win (won Derby last year with Animal Kingdo); has physical make-up to “survive” a race having 20 horses.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: He’s a NY bred (only one, Funny Cide in 2003 has ever won); competition he has faced has not been top-notch.
Early Betting Odds: 20-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

2nd – #19Reddam silks I’ll Have Another
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Doug O’Neill / Mario Gutierrez (1st Derby)
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: gritty Santa Anita Derby win over highly touted Creative Cause; been turning heads based on his physical appearance since arriving in Lousville.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: worst loss came in only race out side of CA (but was on a sloppy track); jock’s first ever Derby mount; #19 post has produced NO Derby winners.
Early Betting Odds: 17-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 12-1

3rd – #15Winster silks Gemologist
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Todd Pletcher / Javier Castellano (5 0-0-0)
Jocks Best Finish: 7th
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: undefeated (5 for 5); impressively “re-broke” in Wood to fight off runner-up (Alpha) in deep stretch; bred to get Derby distance; if he gets a good early position in the “second flight” behind pacesetters, he’ll have no excuses for not winning; 3rd race off layoff angle.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: lightly raced and still a bit green (aka inexperienced); jock’s Derby record; trainer just 1 for 22 with in Derby starters.
Early Betting Odds: 8-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 6-1

4th – #4Chadds Ford silks Union Rags
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Michael Matz / Julien Leparoux (5 0-0-0)
Jocks Best Finish: 5th
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Why he COULD win the Derby: 2nd in BC Juvenile (a head behind winner, Hansen); troubled trip in FL Derby when 3rd, but gained ground late; 3rd race off layoff angle.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: distance limitation based on pedigree; jock’s Derby record; check out the racing career of his full brother, Geefour, who was a sprinter ending his racing career at Penn National in a $4,000 N1Y race.
Early Betting Odds: 6-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 9-2

5th – #7Williams silks Rousing Sermon
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Jerry Hollendorfer / Jose Lezcano (3 0-1-0)
Running Style: Closer
Why he COULD win the Derby: Has a nice, late turn of foot that could pass the tiring pacestters; 3rd place finish in LA Derby better than it looks on paper as the track was “speed favoring” (i.e. tough for a Closer to gain ground).
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Jock has never ridden him; only 3 CA breds have won, last was in 1962 (Decidely); best finish as a 3 yr old is 3rd; in all of his races he’s run wide, gives up too much ground to his foes.
Early Betting Odds: 18-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 50-1

6th – #16Lets Go Stables  silks El Padrino
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Todd Pletcher / Rafael Bejarano (7 0-0-0)
Jocks Best Finish: 4th
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: very game; has improved his position from stretch to the finish line in all six (6) career races; bred to get Derby distance; if track comes up sloppy it enhances his chances.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: hyped in last race (FL Derby) but finished 4th, 3 lengths behind winner, ; woefully slow final work (4f in 53.34 over Palm Meadow Training track)
Early Betting Odds: 34-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

7th – #17Skeddattle silks Done Talking
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Hamilton Smith / Sheldon Russell (1st Derby)
Running Style: Deep Closer
Why he COULD win the Derby: Won IL Derby in most recent race; running style suits long CD stretch; more talented than the “experts” have given him credit for.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: His Speed Figures are among the lowest in this field; jock’s first ever Derby mount; could encounter traffic as he’ll need to pass 19 rivals to win.
Early Betting Odds: 34-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 50-1

8th – #11Godolphin silks Alpha
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Kiaran McLaughlin / Rajiv Maragh (2 0-0-1)
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: bred for Derby distance; had a troubled trip in most recent race (Wood Memorial) yet only lost by a neck to the undefeated Gemologist;
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Jock who rode him in past 3 races elected to ride Hansen in Derby; new jock was not named until day of Post Position Draw; only race @ CD was a disaster (11th in BC Juv. last Fall when he acted up in post parade and starting gate)
Early Betting Odds: 22-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 15-1

9th – #6Zayat silks Bodemeister
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Bob Baffert / Mike Smith (18 1-3-1)
Running Style: Early Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: Most impressive Derby prep race winner (AR Derby by 9½ lengths); only Derby starter to have earned a triple digit Beyer figure (108) at a distance race; always have to respect trainer; bred to get Classic (Derby) distance; never worse than 2nd in career.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: unraced as a 2 year old (last Derby winner who did not race as a 2 year old was Apollo, in 1882); needs to be in the “first flight” (i.e. pacesetters), will likely have plenty of company to set quick, early fractions; only carried 118 lbs. in AR Derby (all Derby starters carry 126 lbs.; others carried 122 or 123 lbs. in last race); only 4 VA breds have won Derby, but was one of them; likely to “bounce” after the huge effort in AR Derby.
Early Betting Odds: 8-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 4-1

10th – #8Steinmann-Heinz silks Creative Cause
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Mike Harrington / Joel Rosario (2 0-0-0)
Jocks Best Finish: 4th
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Why he COULD win the Derby: very game; has run in G1 or G2 (graded stakes) races in 7 of 8 career starts; close 3rd in BC Juvenile (1½ lengths behind winner; Hansen) on CD dirt surface; bred to get Derby distance; has never run a bad race (never been off-the-board).
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Has had a tendency of late put let up once he gets near the lead (i.e. a hanger); will need a perfect trip to navigate through the field. Failed to win in 2 of his last 3 races when the heavy favorite; during flight from CA to KY had a small hoof issue which trainer downplayed, but ya never know.
Early Betting Odds: 12-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 12-1

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Ruben Says:

    Thanks for the informative post and guide. Was going to back Creative Cause, but this hoof issue is scaring the bejeevies out of me.

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