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Zipse At The Track

The toughest Kentucky Derby in years? I’d say so

Trying to separate the top horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby is not an easy task. There would seem to be a number of attractive candidates for this year’s Run for the Roses. In fact, I don’t expect I would receive too many objections if I called this one of the deepest fields in many years. Of course, only time will tell if the exploits of the 2012 three-year-old crop will rival the best groups of recent years, but they are off to a very good start. Not only do they have consistency, as best evidenced by their collective strong records, and also by the welcome fact that nine of the horses that ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile have come back to win graded stakes this year, but they are also running fast. The winners of the Florida Derby, Sunland Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass, and Arkansas Derby all came home in under 1:49 for the nine furlongs, with two of them even bettering 1:48. 
The cast assembling for this year’s Kentucky Derby also has depth. No fewer than eleven horses are likely to be bet down below 20-1, including: Bodemeister, Union Rags, Gemologist, Creative Cause, Hansen, Dullahan, I’ll Have Another, Alpha, Take Charge Indy, Went the Day Well, and Daddy Nose Best … and that list does not even include one of my choices, El Padrino. In comparing the relative depth of this year’s field versus previous editions, I thought it would be interesting to look at the ten favorites from each of the past ten years, so that we can do a little eyeball test to see how this year’s group stacks up.

2011 – Dialed In was favored, followed by Nehro and Mucho Macho Man. After that it was Midnight Interlude, Soldat, Twice the Appeal, Archarcharch, Master of Hounds, Stay Thirsty and Animal Kingdom in the 4-10 spots.

2010 - Lookin at Lucky and Super Saver were the top two favorites, after that it was Sidney’s Candy, Devil May Care, Awesome Act, Ice Box, Paddy O’Prado, Mission Impazible,Line of David, and Dublin in the 3-10 spots.

2009 – Friesan Fire was favored, followed by Dunkirk and Pioneerof the Nile. After that it was Chocolate Candy, General Quarters, Papa Clem, Hold Me Back, Desert Party, Musket Man, and Regal Ransom in the 4-10 spots.

2008Big Brown and Colonel John were the top two favorites, after that it was Pyro, Eight Belles, Court Vision, Gayego, Z Fortune, Visionaire, Denis of Cork , and Big Truck in the 3-10 spots.

2007Street Sense was favored, followed by Curlin and Scat Daddy. After that it was Hard Spun, Nobiz Like Shobiz, Circular Quay, Any Given Saturday, Tiago, Cowtown Cat, and Dominican in the 4-10 spots.

2006 - Sweetnorthernsaint and Barbaro were the top two favorites, after that it was Brother Derek, Point Determined, Sinister Minister, Lawyer Ron, Bob and John, A.P. Warrior, Steppenwolfer, and Jazil in the 3-10 spots.

2005 – Bellamy Road was favored, followed by Afleet Alex and Bandini. After that it was High Fly, Noble Causeway, Sun King, Greeley’s Galaxy, Wilko, High Limit, and Don’t Get Mad in the 4-10 spots.

2004Smarty Jones and Lion Heart were the top two favorites, after that it was Tapit, The Cliff’s Edge, Master David, Imperialism, Borrego, Friend’s Lake, Birdstone, and Castledale in the 3-10 spots.

2003 – Empire Maker was favored, followed by Peace Rules and Ten Most Wanted. After that it was Buddy Gil, Atswhatimtalknbout, Indian Express, Funny Cide, Scrimshaw, Brancusi, and Offlee Wild in the 4-10 spots.

2002 – Harlan’s Holiday and Saarland were the top two favorites, after that it was Medaglia d’Oro, Perfect Drift, Johannesburg, Came Home, Essence of Dubai, Castle Gandolfo, War Emblem, and Lusty Latin in the 3-10 spots.

Obviously it’s far too early to judge where the 2012 favorites will end up in the long run, but it's clear to see, this could be one of the toughest fields assembled in many years.


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Older Comments about The toughest Kentucky Derby in years? I’d say so...

Some journaist said Hansen could go off at 10-1. Oh Please Oh Please give me those odds baby for my exotics! I already have him higher though in the future wagers though. :)
Your welcome mary!
Every Derby Winner dating back to 1991 has at least one "Reines De Course" (Queens of the Turf) mare in his female tail pedigry thru his mother's line or gramother from his sire's line OR his mother or Grandmothers were of Foriegn Breeding. Using the time consuming research which was compiled by Ellen Parker has helped me as a starting point determine which horses in the derby that I will not place on top. This year is very interesting and will be a lot of fun. Wishing all horses and riders a safe safe trip!
PROSPECTIVE, none of the experts have him. His chances of hitting the board are as good as anyone. That Tampa Bay run was deceptively good, almost same as Street Sense. Fun, fun, fun.
no idea why that is a turn on, but it is, Tim. LOL
Dullahan, Gemologist, Daddy Long Legs, Creative Cause and Take Charge Indy are the only ones I think can get 12f, UR is a HUGE no. On lead can help at 12f, easy to get loose on the lead. Seeing as Harrington hasn't told Joel to put the whip away I guess the whip might not be the issue. Hansen is my choice for the Preakness, just another Grey Goose.
CC better be ready because he is going to get the WHIP hard in 9 days.
Anyone besides me expecting their fav to last through the whole TC, not saying TC winner necessarily, instead of just the Derby? Cocoa, is CC doing the slight veering from the whip is the question. I bet you'd know if he wasn't hit much in his 2011 wins. But I don't see a jockey going into the Derby w/o the stick. Would they; has anyone ?
If joel can stop fiddling with his whip CC will be very hard to beat. I want to see CC off SA, times might not be so fast.
Creative Cause has already ran him down once this year winning going away. If Joel can keep CC's head straight down the stretch he will be very hard to beat.
Bodemeister is a front runner they may not run down. He gets better every race. The extra 1/8 mile makes this one so tough to select as until a horse gets there it's more guesswork than anything. I never bet much on any derby. Preakness different story, Belmont same as this, unknown.
I love all the horses who have made it to the Derby and admire all their accomplishments! However, I love you Union Rags... you will have to use all your strength to win with the equine talent running after you!!
this Years Derby will be very fast - no front runner will win - Best speed so far by Bodemeister
this Years Derby will be very fast - no front runner will win - Best speed so far by Bodemeister
I agree it is a tough one however long shots keep poping up like the last 3 stakes races. So that makes it harder. I used to think it was all speed however, after watching Hansem the last time out I think it has to do alot with stamina.
Dullahan and Rags on top for me, but you're right, Brian; this is an extremely deep field and just about anyone could take home the roses.
All but Gemologist, who remains undefeated.
Could be a dead heat in one of the top three spots...I'm betting this year's Derby will set a record for attendance as well as for tv audience. This may be one of those "one for the ages" type of races. And, with so much talent, it may not be a good year to hope for a TC winner...only Secretariat could win 3 times against this year's bunch! All of this bunch have been beaten by each other along the way, so not sure any of the runners can truly claim superiority over any of the others, except with the use of some race stats, like speed, etc. I'm just not smart enough to add up all the variables so will be reading everything in sight about what the so-called experts have to say. Then, I will get out my dart board, close my eyes, and pick a winner!!
This is such a tough race! Getting the winner will not be easy, much less the Exacta or the Trifecta!
I love & am sticking with Rags, though I think Bode' may have something to say about that. I'm a newbie but even to me this is a tough field to predict. There are several other horses on my "possible upset" list. Daddy long legs & nose best to name 2.

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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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