Toss ‘em. No chance. Throw them right out.
Often when wagering on the ponies, half the battle is eliminating those horses that will not win. And when the field is twenty horses deep, it becomes all the more essential to put a line through as many as you can. Luckily, twenty horses in American racing only happens once a year. Love it, or hate it, we’ll see that mass of horseflesh busting out of the Churchill Downs once again for the Kentucky Derby. In hoping to get a firm handle on the huge field, I’ve begun dwindling down the field to a more manageable number.
The following list represents horses that I will not play. I feel strongly they will not win, nor will they fill out the exacta. These are the horses that we can safely draw a line through. I stake my reputation on it. Of course we know anything can happen in racing, so if one of these pretenders does somehow run big on the first Saturday in May, you can just call me mud.
1. Daddy Long Legs (Scat Daddy-Dreamy Maiden, by Meadowlake) Aidan O'Brien – Daddy Long Legs will not win the Derby because he will never win at ten furlongs on the dirt. I see a lot of people wanting to put this invader high on their list, but I'm not buying it. He has the breeding to get leg weary at the distance, and his only previous race on dirt (at Churchill, no less) was dreadful. Yes I know, he has already won at 1 3/16, but that was not on dirt, and I don't believe the UAE Derby comes close to the Kentucky version in quality this year.
2. Rousing Sermon (Lucky Pulpit-Rousing Again, by Awesome Again) Jerry Hollendorfer – Rousing Sermon will not win the Derby because he's just not quite good enough. I went back and forth on this one, but in the end, I just don't see the quality to get the job done in the run for the roses. His consistent rally is admirable, but he seems to have proven that he can't get by good three-year-olds, let alone the tigers he will face in two weeks. Like the top one, he is a threat to rally up for only about sixth place at the best.
3. Sabercat (Bluegrass Cat-Miner's Blessing, by Forty Niner) Steve Asmussen – Sabercat will not win the Derby because this is not Delta Downs. The weaker half of the Asmussen pair's claim to fame is winning the Delta Jackpot. It gave him all the earnings to make it into the Kentucky Derby field, but that race on a bullring last year is about as different from the Derby as you can get. His two races this year have not been very good, and if he could not get by Secret Circle in Arkansas, how on earth is he going to do much in the long Churchill stretch?
4. Mark Valeski (Proud Citizen-Pocho's Dream Girl, by Fortunate Prospect) Larry Jones – Mark Valeski will not win the Derby because he is not a distance horse. I like this horse, I really do, just not for the Derby. He is not bred to run long, and in both of his stakes tries in Louisiana he could not quite get the job done, narrowly losing to El Padrino and Hero of Order. The combination of tougher competition and 1 1/4 miles will simply be too much for him to handle. Look for him to make noise later this year in 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 mile races.
5. Liaison (Indian Charlie-Galloping Gal, by Victory Gallop) Bob Baffert – Liaison will not win the Derby because he was better at two then he is at three. He was on the short list of the best juveniles in the nation last year, but has not carried that form over to 2012. Already a question mark as far as handling the distance, he simply has not shown enough in any of his three races this year to consider him a legitimate threat in a field like this.
6. Prospective (Malibu Moon-Spirited Away, by Awesome Again) Mark Casse – Prospective will not win the Derby because class will tell. Unfortunately for Prospective, he doesn't quite have enough to run with the big boys. If his 13th place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was not enough proof, his 6th place finish in the Blue Grass did the trick. He's a nice horse who does well against horses he fits with, as evidenced by three stakes wins, but they were all a fair amount cheaper than the crew he will face in the Derby.
7. Done Talking (Broken Vow-Dixie Talking, by Dixieland Band) Hamilton Smith – Done Talking will not win the Derby because he is not fast enough. As much as I love Illinois racing, let's face facts, the Illinois Derby was not much of a Kentucky Derby prep this year. Neither the level of competition nor the speed displayed by any horse in the race at any point in the contest, leads me to believe that Done Talking can make a serious dent in the run for the roses.
8. Reveron (Songandaprayer-Carolina Sunrise, by Awesome Again) Agustin Bezara – Reveron will not win the Derby because the Florida Derby result will be as good as it gets for the speedy son of Songandaprayer. Not only was Take Charge Indy a benefactor of the first six furlongs of the Gulfstream prep, so was this one. Despite running nothing but good ones of late, Reveron will only be heard from in the early stages in the Derby, and will be one of many going backwards the entire stretch run.