Can you believe it? Only five more days until America’s most
prestigious race, the Kentucky Derby! Post positions will be drawn on Wednesday,
and it will be then that the 2011 Kentucky Derby field will be set in stone. It
is normally then that bettors, handicappers, and race fans make their final
picks. However, unless there something huge and earth shattering occurs, my top
four has already been picked and will not change.
When picking there are several variables that one must take into
consideration. My number one rule whe picking horses is to go with the horse
that has proven form over the track. Churchill Downs is a track known for its quirks, either
horses love it or they hate it and it’s always better to know ahead of time which end
of that love/hate spectrum they will be. The best way to do that is to have proven form over the surface or work over it as much as
possible to gauge if your horse is adjusting to the surface. Horses who seem to run slower than average times and have weak gallop outs are the ones you toss.
The next rule is to look for the horse with the most upside
coming into the race. You do not want a horse that finished out of the money in
their final prep on your ticket, because chances are that they got nothing good out
of that last prep race. You want a horse that closed strongly or has been steadily progressing throughout the year, and will likely peak in the Derby.
Third rule, never bet that impressive late closer that
almost got there. Those horses will almost always be overbet and will likely disappoint on Derby day,
because whatever excuse that caused them to lose in their prep will be
multiplied times 10 in the Kentucky Derby. If he got stuck in traffic he will be trying to negociated a 10 horse pile-up, if he had to go wide he’ll go five paths wider, if he was 10 lengths
back then he’ll be pushed 20 lengths back.
So, what is the verdict after all the criteria is considered?
Uncle Mo would remain my first pick. He proved how much he loved Churchill
Downs with his dominating victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and even though
he performed below par in the Wood Memorial, it was not a bad effort. Another plus is that he has
been working well at Churchill Downs since then. Those watching say he's looking more and more like the Uncle Mo we saw as a two year old. Lastly, his running style is also
quite conductive when it come to the running of the Derby and should keep him
out of trouble.
Second pick would go to Archarcharch. He seems to be
thriving at Churchill Downs, and a dynamite bullet shows just how much the colt seems
to have taken to the track. He is well traveled, racing four times this year,
so he is not lacking in foundation. He won his last prep, the Arkansas Derby
the right way, despite winning by only a head. He can come from anywhere and
has a quick acceleration that should put him close to the lead by the top of
the stretch. And a quick little tidbit of history, over the last seven years at least one horse coming from Oaklawn has finished in the top four of the Kentucky Derby.
Toby’s Corner takes up my third spot. He has not worked over
Churchill Downs yet, which does worry me, however he is a horse with the mos
upside, from where I stand. Of the closers I like him best. His effort in the Wood Memorial was
encouraging to say the least and it came at the right time. He will be one of the
few horses that has already proven that he can handle a sloppy track, which is
always a plus when picking a Derby horse. Being a closer he’ll run into traffic
on the turn, but with his turn of foot and upside coming into the race, He might be able to over come it.
Stay Thirsty will round out my top four. Yes, he had a
horrible Florida Derby and it would take a radical turn around in order for him
to win, however, I am not expecting a win. The colt has been absolutely
thriving since his arrival to Churchill Downs. Reports claim that he is looking
ready and on the muscle for this race, and after his last pair of works, I can
understand why. With how he is working up to the race he has the best chance of any horse to make a radical turn around.
That concludes my Derby Fantastic Four. Now it’s time for
me to get off my soapbox and listen to your picks.