Every year via my horse racing blog of five (5) years, my Derby
installment contains my opinion of the entire field, listing them in my
predicted order of finish, providing a “Why he can/cannot win the Derby” and my
suggested plays. Click here to read
it before proceeding (if you wish).
It’s the Tuesday morning after the running of the 139th Kentucky Derby, and I receive an email from a
longtime friend and fellow horse racing enthusiast, who picked the
Kentucky Oaks winner but wasn’t as fortunate in the Derby.
The Subject line read, “Now that the dust has settled”. In the
body, he simply wrote, “
the Oaks winner because of so much speed in that race. I looked at that (Golden)
Soul horse 4 times since the end of the Derby and STILL don't like him. So tell
me why (you did)?”
A quick answer turned into a lengthy dissertation. Therefore, I
figured why waste such an effort on one person, so here’s my story on how I
picked the top 3 finishers when to date no one else has come forward with
documented proof to claim the same, because Golden Soul was the runner most folks ignored. Hence the generous $981.60 Exacta and $6,925.60 Trifecta pay-offs based on a $2 wager.
Here is my reply to his question…
“As far as Golden Soul. You read my blog, right? I gave valid reasons WHY he
could win. That obviously didn't convince you, so let me point out a few more
...Look at his last race (LA Derby) Beyer or Brisnet speed figure
(I don't look at DRF anymore, so for me it's the Brisnet number). How many
others had better number than that?
... his last 3 races were at FG. It favored SPEED throughout the
meet EXCEPT in the LA DERBY. He finished 6th, but what, 3 lengths behind Revolutionary?! And he might have had
undocumented traffic issues. Still he got a good speed fig for finishing 6th!
... In those last 3 races he improved on his previous speed figure
(a handicapping angle I always make note of for any race)
... here's something that (obviously) only I noticed on Wednesday
when I was at CD on the backside. I saw maybe 14 of the Derby starters gallop.
Of all of them ONLY 3 VISUALLY impressed me... Lukas' two, Oxbow and Will Take Charge
(WTC) and Golden Soul. Over the past
2 years I've become pretty good on assessing good, positive, physical presence of
So coming up with my Top 4 was easy. Revolutionary had the mental toughness that nothing bothers him
(plus I had 13-1 on him in DFW Pool #1), so I had to stay with him on top.
Before going to Louisville, I was skeptical about Orb (see what wrote in his "WHY he SHOULD NOT be able to win
Derby). That was my real concern... the fact he ALWAYS gets worked up and
sweaty (normally HUGE RED FLAG) in the Post Parade lessened my concern. I also
had a short conversation with an unnamed racing analyst and asked him who he
liked, and before I could finish the question he said, "Orb". I shared
with him my concern, but he just shook his head in disagreement saying,
"Nah, that's not going to be a problem".
So now I have my 3 longshot, physically fit specimens. WTC was a toss because he had never run
beyond 1 1/16 mile. A few years ago I learned the hard way when I backed Friesan
Fire in Derby having a similar resume'... he went off the 7-2 favorite and was
nowhere (18th). Then there's Oxbow
w/ Stevens' and Lukas, sounded like the perfect fairy tale, but I wasn't
convinced the early fractions would be as soft as everyone expected, and I just
couldn't see a gate-to-wire winner among this field, so he got my "lowest
vote of confidence".
That brought me to Golden Soul, but
I had to convince myself to overlook what I perceived as a negative. The early
PP's (a week before Post Positions were drawn) had Brian Hernandez, Jr. as
having the mount (who had ridden “Soul” twice in the past). After the draw, I
see Robby Albarado will ride (who had NEVER ridden “Soul”). It's not that Robby
rides more of Dallas Stewart's horses, because their win percentage over the
past year was (only) 16%. That fact ALMOST got me OFF Golden Soul, but his
physical appearance trumped it.”
As Paul Harvey used to say, "... and now you know the rest of
In the interest of full-disclosure, this was the
first year I had ever picked the Top 3 Derby finishers (in any order) let alone
the winner, over the past five years of documenting my selections on the worldwide
web. So this year I was the recipient of racing lucky. Maybe next year the
racing gods will shine down upon you?