The year was 1998 and my cousin Lou was driving me to McCarran Airport to catch a plane to Louisville, Kentucky.
I was heading once again to my favorite spot, Churchill Downs on that first Saturday in May. As I was getting out of his car, Lou asked me who I was going to bet, I put my finger over my mouth and said in a very low voice, ”Real Quiet.”
As horse players and handicappers, sometimes we just look at the Daily Racing Form and something hits us. We don’t know why, but in our minds we know that horse is going to win. It could be something we have seen in our past handicapping, but who knows?
Since the Kentucky Derby has gone to the point system it has become somewhat of a very formful race with the favorites dominating the last few years and trainer Bob Baffert and the West Coast horses also dominating. That may not change this year as we have the four horsemen and the four West Coast horses sitting on top of the contenders list with Baffert training three of them.
It would be an amazing feat if Baffert took down the trifecta, and it is in the realm of possibility that they could make up the superfecta.
First, the three horsemen: Irad Ortiz Jr., Florent Geroux and Joel Rosario.
Second, the three horses: Improbable, Roadster and Game Winner.
Ortiz will get his shot on Improbable, who just finished a length behind Omaha Beach in the Arkansas Derby on a sloppy sealed track and running just a great race. Improbable most likely needed that race being that it was just his second start of his 3-year-old season, and this race will have him set for his best effort come Saturday.
Improbable has never run a bad race with three wins and two seconds in his five starts. Both of his losses have come as a 3-year-old.
Game Winner, who will have Rosario in the irons, is a mirror image of Improbable, winning 4 of his 6 starts with two seconds. Both of his seconds came this year when getting wide trips in a division of the Rebel when losing to Omaha Beach, and second in the Santa Anita Derby when losing to his stablemate Roadster. Roadster also gets a new jockey as his previous jockey, Mike Smith, opted for Omaha Beach, but he does get the very capable Florent Geroux in the irons.
Roadster had some breathing problems but had that taken care of in the off season and he came back breathing fire when beating his stablemate, Game Winner, in the Santa Anita Derby under a great Mike Smith ride. It was his first start of the year, the question is if he can move forward off of that big race or would that race be enough to win the Kentucky Derby?
After these three runners it will be a mad scramble for the other runners to get a piece of the pie.
Tacitus who is trained by Bill Mott and owned by Juddmonte, a great trainer and owner hookup, is in top form and will be running late if he can get a good trip. Maximum Security, who has been eating the right oats in Florida, is undefeated and his trainer Jason Servis has been pushing all the right buttons. His only drawback, in my mind, is that Florida runners have not done well of late in the Kentucky Derby.
As improbable as it may seem, Baffert could be the trifecta. I know one bettor who will have that ticket in his pocket.
Just one more note. Though Improbable and Game Winner are both winless this year, Real Quiet also went into the Kentucky Derby winless as a 3-year-old.
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