Now that I’ve spent the last two days singing the praises of Dialed In and Archtothe3, let me pause to mention my list of knocks against a bevy of horses (most notably from the Wood Memorial) that are likely to find good support at the windows on Saturday. Wood Memorial horses tend to get quite a bit of hype each year (after Secretariat ran there, why not?) and the last Derby winner from this race was in 2003 – Funny Cide, the longest dry spell of the major preps (FL Derby, SA Derby, AR Derby, Blue Grass, Wood). Awesome Act and Jackson Bend were supposed to be live plays in last year’s Derby and finished 19th and 12th, respectively. Other notable Wood Memorial flops of the last decade include Buddha, Tapit and Nobiz Like Shobiz. Although, it is only fair to point out that with Toby’s scratch, this is the third year in a row (Eskenderaya and I Want Revenge) that the Wood Memorial winner was a Derby week scratch. So in addition to being a weak prep race as of late, it’s also bad karma!
(late scratch) Toby’s Corner – Speaking of the Wood Memorial, Toby’s sire – Bellamy Road – was one of the biggest Derby flops in history when going off at 5-2 odds after a 17 length route in the 2005 Wood Memorial, only to finish a non-threatening seventh in Kentucky. His damsire, Mister Frisky, ironically also was a Derby flop, bringing in a 16 race win streak yet could manage only an eighth place finish to Unbridled. Will two wrongs make a right? (We’ll never know after his earlier scratch.)
Uncle Mo – If you exclude his two year-old campaign (and history tells us to do so in handicapping the Derby) where would the odds lie on this colt? Trick question, since he wouldn’t be close to getting into the field with just 75K he earned running third in the Wood Memorial. The Timely Writer overnight stakes race written for his connections proved nothing in a one-turn mile race with a few stragglers chasing him home after setting slow fractions. His follow-up race in the Wood where he showed no punch in the stretch would suggest that he is a miler who couldn’t handle the last 1/8th mile, not to mention another quarter mile.
Soldat – I’m still not convinced that a War Front colt wants any part of 10 furlongs. What is interesting to me is that the connections of both The Factor and Soldat, confirmed front runners on dirt, tried to alter strategy by rating in their respective 9 furlong prep races and both ran poorly in the process. But wait - Soldat has run three races this year at 1 1/8 miles, including a 10 length score, you say?! Having a two to three length lead on the backstretch while running 48 second half mile times won’t come close to being replicated in the Derby. Thus, in my opinion those are your “toss” races, not the Florida Derby in which Alan Garcia attempted to rate him off a quick pace (:46.1, 1:10.3) that will be more in line with how the Derby unfolds.
Nehro – My guess is that this guy will go off around the 3rd choice in the vicinity of 10-1. Some will take these odds in a New York minute based on his pair of fast closing place finishes in the LA and AR Derbies. Looking at his brief five race past performances, I can’t get over the fact that just three short months ago he was drubbed by 22 lengths in a maiden race with the tag line, “Showed little.” He ruined my tickets and many others at 36-1 odds in the Louisiana Derby and backed up that race with an even better Arkansas Derby performance. I’m not a Ragozin numbers guy, but my gut tells me he may be sitting on a “bounce” race. I’ll leave him off most of my big bets, but will have a few backup bets just in case he comes rolling in the stretch one more time.
If you have other toss horses, please send them my way!