Well it looks like there will be a full field of 20 horses. The one thing I know is that if 19 or more horses leave the gate, I will cash a prop bet (over/under starters) before the race is even run. The question is who will hit that finish line first to win this Run for the Roses?
It’s not an easy task to pick a winner, even when you know the track conditions and what post each horse will be breaking from, six days in advance when we don’t even know all of the starters. But we will give it our best and I do have my game plan already intact.
This year has all been Zito and Pletcher, who appear to have eight of the 20 starters in this year’s Kentucky Derby. You would think one should break through, but who knows.
First, let’s take a look at the Zito-trained horses. His main colt and probable post time favorite will be Bellamy Road, who put in one of the greatest races of all time when winning the Wood by more than 17 lengths in record time.
If for some reason this guy can clear the field early he could be long gone. But that won’t happen so he will have to come off the pace or go head-to-head for the full 1Â¼ miles. If he can do this he will have the makings of a Triple Crown Winner.
I have to pull out all the stops when trying to find that elusive Derby winner. My only problem with Bellamy Road is that he only has two preps and that just doesn’t get the job done.
Sun King ran a stinker behind Bandini in the Blue Grass and has never been able to beat any top class horses, so he is a pass even though he does fit the Derby profile.
High Fly, who has never been off the board, barely beat Bandini in the Fountain of Youth and has been idle since April 2. With those five weeks off, that usually spells doom, so no flying High.
Noble Causeway has never won a Stakes and has also been idle for five weeks, so no Noble.
Zito’s last horse is Andromeda’s Hero, who looks to be sitting on a huge race and could get a great set-up with all the speed killing each other off early. Andromeda fits the Derby profile and is a must use in the exotics at a big price. He would really need to put it all together to pull off the win, but that has happened in the past. The bottom line on Mr. Nick’s five horses is that I will pass and try to beat them.
Let’s take a look at Todd Pletcher’s big three. First of all he has long shot Colin Silver who appears to be on the improve and showed he can rate when coming from off the pace in the slop to win the Lexington going away. This warrior is getting good at the right time and fits the derby profile.
Flower Alley ran behind Afleet Alex in the Arkansas Derby and will be fitted with blinkers for the Derby, which should help. He also fits the Derby profile with his three 2005 preps, a race as a 2-year-old and a race three weeks before the Derby.
Now we will get to the main Pletcher horse, Bandini. He appears to be coming into this in the best position of all and is improving by leaps and bounds. If he’s able to move forward off his race in the Blue Grass he will be one tough customer.
Bandini can rate and will get a great trip with a good post draw. He will be insured of a fast pace to run at, as his owner Michael Tabor has also entered the speed ball, Spanish Chestnut, which he will use as a rabbit, just like he did in the Blue Grass when putting it to High Limit.
I believe this will be the year that Pletcher wins his first Kentucky Derby. He was the Eclipse Award winning trainer of the year in 2004 and I just love the way he is bringing his three charges into this race.
Let’s look at the rest of the horses. The main threat to the Zito and Pletcher horses appears to be Afleet Alex, who just ran huge in the Arkansas Derby and has just one bad race in his career (and that was because of a throat infection).
Alex will make his presence felt and he does fit the Derby profile. My only knock on him is that I have a friend who just has no luck — and he has a big future bet on Alex! I will use him in the exotics but not on the win end.
Wilko — last year’s Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Champion —has just too much history to o vercome, so I’ll pass.
Greater Good went backwards in his last race, and Giacomo isn’t fast enough. High Limit adds more speed to the lineup, but he has just four lifetime races and only two preps.
Buzzards Bay, winner of the Santa Anita Derby and trained by Jeff Mullins, just looks like a runner and can run close or from off the pace. He fits the profile, he will be a monster price and a must-use in the exotics.
Closing Argument has only two prep races and has never beaten a top horse. Spanish Chestnut will be used as a rabbit and has no chance, so don’t waste your money on him. Sort It Out gives Baffert his sole Derby horse after missing last year, but this entrant just isn’t good enough.
Going Wild, another trained by Lukas, will be eaten up in the pace battle and will be far behind in the run for the wire. But remember, he does have the Lukas/Lewis connection.
Greeley’s Galaxy ran huge when winning the Illinois Derby by nine lengths, but has only four lifetime starts and did not run as a 2-year-old. His stable mate, Don’t Get Mad, would be coming back in seven days off his big win in last week’s Derby Trial, which made him a perfect three-for-three at Churchill Downs.
But Don’t Get Mad was beaten nine lengths in the Santa Anita Derby by Buzzards Bay and, even though he is a fit coming back in just seven days, it is a lot to ask for a top young horse to run seven days apart.
The bottom line in this year’s Derby is don’t take a short price in what looks to be a wide-open race. I think 6-1 would be the lowest odds I would be willing to lay.
But I will use Bandini first and second as a key in the trifecta and superfecta. Watch the post position draw and the track conditions, have fun and enjoy all those parties. If you celebrate with one too many mint juleps, call someone for a ride, just don’t call me.