We have all been there, right? A head bob on the wire, a golden trip, a bad ride, a devastating disqualification…any of these outcomes can work for or against us on any given day at the races. There is often a very fine line that separates the big score from the big beat. That’s what makes this sport so great. Whether rich or poor, young or old, expert or novice, we all experience the glory and the gloom. It’s the glue that forms this incredible bond among us horse racing enthusiasts.
The Kentucky Derby and Breeders Cup races present the horse player with two opportunities to hit the biggest scores of one’s life…as well as the possibility of going down in flames experiencing our biggest beats. Either way, everyone always remembers exactly where they were, who they were with, what the weather was, and so on, when they cashed the biggest tickets of their lives. For some, the stretch run and race call is permanently etched in their memory ready to be recalled for replay at a moment’s notice.
We are days away from the 2010 Kentucky Derby and with the unfortunate departure of Eskendereya from the Derby field, sugar plums and monster Trifecta’s are dancing in our heads. It is certainly shaping up to be one of those potential chaos races loaded with huge exotic wagers payoffs. Will you be cashing or crashing? Let’s take a look at two recent runnings of the Kentucky Derby in which monster Trifecta pay offs were definitely hittable and let’s see if we can take some insights from those outcomes into cashing a big ticket in this year’s Derby.
First up is the 2006 Kentucky Derby in which the immortal Barbaro won going away. Let’s relive this great Derby moment by taking a look at the results chart.
The Trifecta that day paid a whopping $11,418.40 for a $2 wager. What a spectacular pay day considering Barbaro was the second choice in the wagering. The real key to this monster Trifecta pay day was the second place finisher, Bluegrass Cat, a 30-1 bomber that closed from mid pack.
Take a closer look at his three Derby prep races. Everyone that year was talking about how the Bluegrass Stakes was a complete throw away…a real freaky race. Sinister Minister won by over 12 lengths in wire-to-wire fashion, yet finished in the back of the pack in the Derby. Bluegrass Cat’s Tampa Bay preps were huge. Look at the pairing of those BRIS Late Pace figures of 112 and 105. In addition, his speed ratings were progressively improving until the Bluegrass Stakes debacle. I remember seeing the 30-1 odds and asking how could that possibly be? Plus, Pletcher was telling anyone who would listen that his horse was live. This was a horse that was bred for the distance and showed very strong closing ability. An easy choice to include in the two hole let alone the win spot. In Horse Racing Nation’s Kentucky Derby Super Screener, this horse was even a win qualifier.
Seemed everyone was talking about how the super closers Jazil and Steppenwolfer were logical bottom of Trifecta plays due to the anticipated hot pace assured by the likes of Keyed Entry, Sinister Minister and Sharp Humor. No question, this was a very hittable monster Trifecta.
Going back five years earlier we come to the 2001 Kentucky Derby in which Monarchos came from second to last to circle the Derby field and score and an eye-popping sub two-minute Derby victory. Here’s the chart to refresh our memory.
Going into this Kentucky Derby the clear favorite was Point Given, eventual winner of that year’s Preakness and Belmont Stakes. This was another Derby in which the anticipated pace was going to be white hot. Every one knew it! Songandaprayer, Balto Star, Millennium Wind and Keats were going to engage in a suicidal battle. So, the best closers in order were Point Given, Monarchos and Dollar Bill (knocked out of the race early on…a horse that always found trouble). Some included Thunder Blitz in that category. Monarchos ran huge numbers in his preps and clearly, repeatedly showed his ability to run ‘em down late. No imagination was required to put Monarchos on the top of a Trifecta ticket. Not the case with Invisible Ink.
Check out the highlighted prep races. As in 2006, the Bluegrass Stakes produces another Kentucky Derby second place bomber (55-1). In that race, three other Derby starters finished ahead of Invisible Ink, two of which were speedsters on a speed favoring track. (So, as we knock around the quirky Polytrack surface at Keeneland, let’s not forget that it was an equally confounding surface when it was the speed-favoring super dirt highway.) Invisible Ink nearly qualified as a win contender off both Derby preps. Certainly, a strong in-the-money contender. He finished a nice third behind Monarchos in the Florida Derby to confirm he was usable. John Velasquez smartly kept him off the hot pace in the Derby and merely passed tired horses late. Interesting to note that Todd Pletcher trained both 2nd place bombers, Invisible Ink and Bluegrass Cat to these huge upsets. We have seen this in other big races, so always watch for the 2nd place Pletcher bomber.
Conagree was on just about everyone’s ticket and certainly in the third place slot as the third favorite. Point Given and Conagree clearly ran the best races that day considering how close they were to the scorching pace. The $12,238.40 jack pot Trifecta for $2 was not only hittable but the ticket on top should have been very narrow to allow spreading in the second and third place slots leaving plenty of opportunity to plug in Invisible Ink high on the ticket.
As we go into the 2010 Kentucky Derby we all know that the pace will be swift but not what we had seen in 2001 and 2006. However, even an above average pace with this weak field will have the front runners gasping for air come mid stretch.
So, without Eskendereya in the field, you’ll need to find the one or two horses capable of closing strong to wheel in all three slots of your Trifecta wagers. A horse like Lookin at Lucky appears to be the perfect candidate for this strategy. Then stick with other horses that have demonstrated they can close well while likely to get the Derby distance. Consider a front runner that might hold on for third at a huge price. Get more insights on live contenders from our 2010 Kentucky Derby Super Screener.
Oh yes, don’t forget to include a Pletcher bomber in the second place slot of your Trifecta wager!
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May this be the year that you hit the Hittable Monster Trifecta!