Derby Week racing fans! The long and exciting trail to the Kentucky Derby is
drawing to a close. But, this stage of the journey is always the most exciting because
it is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Throughout the prep season I haven’t
been overly vocal about my Kentucky Derby rankings, contenders or choices but as
of right now that is no longer the case. It's derby week and the 139th Kentucky Derby is
here so let’s dive in…….
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
opposed to the standard Kentucky Derby field this year’s crop of 3-yr-olds doesn’t
seem to carry a clear cut favorite. This is why I looked for a horse that has
the experience factor. But, past performances did not mean that I would choose
your number if all you have accomplished is loading into the gate and crossing
the finish line. Instead, I favored the horses that have shown me their willingness
to compete since the Juvenile season, raced against top class and finished strong
on more than one occasion. This is especially true if it was against graded
stakes fields that included more than one Kentucky Derby entry or top contenders
that are no longer on the trail due to injury.
there’s one element I am lucky enough to exclude. For the first time in a very
long time, the post position draw had no effect on my picks. I liked what I saw
and I’m happy with where my picks will be starting from.
I just say my picks? Oh yeah, lets break it down.
I have had my eye on him since his opening act of the 3-yr-old
season - G3 Withers Stakes. Although he got hung up early and landed in
the back of the pack he was still game enough to fight through traffic with an
enormous effort down the stretch. Javier Castellano urged him nicely and once
Revolutionary found the window he shot through it in the blink of an eye, split
two horses and won by a neck.
Louisiana Derby wasn’t any different. Revolutionary got hung up behind the pack
and again had to make another huge effort in order to win. But, he did and he
impressed a great deal. Why he’s
impressed so much is because of where he closes the gap; on the backstretch.
Before the final turn in both the Withers Stakes and Louisiana Derby he was in
position at the top of lane and the effort it took to close on the lead through
the backstretch never faded him.
Jockey change didn’t make me hesitate at all. If any other rider would’ve been
assigned maybe I would have thought twice. But instead, he’s got a three time
Kentucky Derby winner and hall of famer in the saddle. Borel’s experience and
guts kept Revolutionary locked in as my top choice and I expect him, WinStar and
Todd Pletcher to be celebrating together again on Saturday.
Summary: He raced four times as a Juvenile so the experience factor is there.
He’s raced against and beat top class twice in 2013. Calvin Bo-Rail is
aboard right where he likes to be: Post Position #3.
Orb | Phipps Stable | C. McGaughey | J. Rosario
just has it all. He’s got the look, a beautiful stride, a jockey that is red
hot and a hall of fame trainer that may be due for his first Kentucky Derby
win. Besides Joel Rosario coming off his record breaking performance at Keeneland
(38 Wins) I like his style of racing the most. Orb appears to be a stalker that
will sit just off the lead in the second wave of horses tucked in right behind
the leaders. This is a style of racing in the Kentucky Derby that I am a big
fan of because Joel will have a good sense of all the necessary information. He
will gauge the pace, have or create a clear path to the wire, know when it’s time to go
without moving too early and be ready for a battle in the final furlong.
Trainer Shug McGaughey is due and without saying as much, he seems to believe
that Orb is the horse he’s been waiting for.
I like his experience (7 lifetime races), his stalker style, Rosario up and I also think it may be time for Shug.
reason I saved my analysis of the Florida Derby is because Itsmyluckyday is my
third choice. Of course I liked more about Orb in that race but I also can’t
ignore the fight that Itsmyluckyday gave him. In fact, I won't be surprised
if these two hook up in the stretch again for another battle. Besides his
strong effort in the Florida Derby who else wasn’t surprised or impressed with
his record time of 1:41.81 in the G3 Holy Bull. Even the red hot Shanghai Bobby
wasn’t up for that challenge and I haven’t forgotten about that performance.
Finally, it is not uncommon for a horse to lose in their final prep yet come
back and win the derby. Itsmyluckyday could be the next horse that does what
recent winners like Super Saver, Mine That Bird, Giacomo and Funny Cide accomplished.
Exerience (10 lifetime races), tested against top class (raced against Orb,
Goldencents, Frac Daddy, Mylute) and he may be ready to find that Holy Bull
form one more time.
Goldencents | D. Kenney-WC Racing | D. O'Neill | K. Krigger
He rounds out my top four based on one important factor; the pace in the SA
Derby. Yes, many have been weary of his ability to carry the distance of 1 ¼ Mile
but I can’t assume that just because he won with better fractions than any
other major prep that he will fade towards the end so easily. The 1 mile split in that race of 1:35.72 and final time of
1:48.76 were pretty standard times for an eventual Kentucky Derby winner or top
place finisher. So, I can’t ignore that he was game enough to hold on and win.
His closing fractions might not have been as good as the pace but it’s not
enough to steer me away. I’m not even sure I know that much about jockey Kevin
Krigger but Doug O’Neill proved last year that he doesn’t need a jockey that
knows that much about the Kentucky Derby either. Krigger is confident and he feels
that he’s going to be Rick Pitino’s next MVP.
Experience (6 lifetime races; 5 graded stakes), last year’s winning trainer and
a solid win over my previous first choice Flashback
Mylute | Gold Mark Farm | T. Amoss | R. Napravnik
probably because I like Revolutionary as my top choice but this colt impressed
me last time out in the Louisiana Derby as well. Before that race I didn’t pay him much
attention but afterwards the colt was hard to ignore. Besides battling
Revolutionary to the wire I also give Mylute credit for beating the best horse
not in the Kentucky Derby field; Departing. If the team elects to rally from
well off the pace again it’s going to be a battle but it could be enough for a third or
fourth place finish.
it relates to Mylute, this horse also appears to be aiming at a late close from mid
pack or beyond. I liked his effort when chasing down Verrazano in the Wood but
it’s not an effort that I think will lead to a Kentucky Derby win. Leaving him
out of a tri or super might be dangerous because he could be game enough to
make a very strong run and either surprise me or finish in the top four easily.
was a very solid conclusion to the 3-yr-old season for this colt (2nd in the TB Derby, 1st in BG Stakes). The outside post #19 will be fine for Julien Leparoux and Java’s War. As long as he can get
moving out of the starting gate he may be in position to make a huge run. All
three exotics are based on closer's but the late surge by Java’s War in
the Blue Grass Stakes was the biggest and maybe the best.
year there’s always a horse that many people just can’t decide on; Back and
forth, back and forth. This year that horse for me was Verrazano. In the end,
he’s become the horse that will either make me cringe or be the one I’m
delighted I passed on. Leaving him out of my exotics is probably not
going to happen but tapping him to win will not.
reason I struggle the most with this horse is two reasons; lack of experience
and lack of aggressive racing. I can’t blame Johhny V for only having to hand ride Verrazano to victory but it worries me that a horse that never raced as a Juvenile will be
ready to respond when Johnny V asks him on Saturday. Again, this decision may
burn me but I don’t think he will be up for the challenge and his immaturity will get the best of him.
always, there are plenty of horses that can win
this race. So, good luck to all of our starters in the 139th
Kentucky Derby and their connections. Also, good luck to the fans. If you place
a wager we hope you bet wisely and return to the window for more good
news. Benefit from a mint julep, enjoy the races, and enjoy the day because there is
nothing else like the Kentucky Derby. Cheers!