I’ll save my Kentucky Derby for next week, but I will try and make a Point Given.
In 2001, I was in Louisville armed and dangerous. My pockets were full with the express purpose of betting Point Given, who myself and fellow handicappers were certain was the best horse, a superstar in the making and a potential Triple Crown winner.
Well, the track was very strange Derby day. Track records were set in almost all the early races. Point Given wound up not winning the Derby, but did make a shambles of the same horses in the Preakness and Belmont in becoming 3yo champ and Horse of the Year.
The point is the best horse may not win, especially in a 20 horse field. Be selective and remember this is just another race. Don’t take a short price. Few favorites win and plenty of luck is involved.
I’ve learned you can’t buck history in finding a Derby winner. For the past five years many handicappers and touts have said the times are changing. They recommend forgetting about the past. To me, that’s the quickest way to fail — just ask any army or marine general.
Some 50 years of Kentucky Derby history says you must have raced as a 2yo, you need at least 3 races as a 3yo and one of those starts must be no more than four weeks before the Big Race! One day this streak will be broken, but the last time was back in 1956 when Needles won going straight from the Florida Derby to Churchill Downs
Many have tried since, but all failed. Right now, I’m not bucking this 28-day trend. Every year some very good trainers with some nice horses give it a shot, but they just won’t learn. You must be one tough animal to get a 1Â¼ on that first Saturday in May coming off the four-week layoff.
Apollo was the last horse to win the Derby without racing as a 2yo, and that was so long ago I can’t remember. So, remember the points I just made about the 28-day trend.
In eliminating and handicap the horses left, go back to last year. An average horse named Giacomo won at 50-1, running the race of his life. He hasn’t won since, but fit the trend of racing as a 2yo, competing in three preps and racing within 28 days of the Derby. This year, I believe the winner will exit either the Wood or the Santa Anita Derby. I’m also targeting the Illinois Derby, where runaway champ Sweetnorthernsaint fits all the criteria. Pencil him in as a serious contender.
A.P. Warrior, out of the Santa Anita Derby, is a good fit and looks to be coming to Louisville sitting on a huge effort. He will be laying midpack and could fly late at a big price. And also out of the SA Derby is Point Determined. He barely makes the fit category, with his 2yo debut last Dec. 26. I prefer at least two races as a 2yo, but it would be fitting for Point Determined to get redemption for his daddy Point Given.
Brother Derek, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, will most likely be the post time favorite. Bro Derek is a model of consistency, but his last defeat came in the BC Juvenile in a 14-horse field. At a short price and in a big field, I will make him a definite bet against.
Bob and John, the Wood Memorial winner, is a perfect fit and looks to have the right style to take the Derby. He is bred for the distance and just need some luck. Jazil, second in the Wood, is also a good fit. He was flying late and could provide a winning Exacta or the Q.
Derby SeminarPlanet Hollywood has set up a Kentucky Derby seminar for Friday, May 5 featuring trainer Craig Dollase, Ralph Siraco, Jon Lindo and West Point Thoroughbred rep Jeff Bloom.
The group will also be in success to the public Derby Day, Saturday, May 6 from 7:30 a.m to 7 p.m. in the ballrooms on the Mezzanine Level of the former Aladdin Casino Resort.
Derby betting stations at Planet Hollywood will be set up, along with food and drink specials. Commemorative Derby glasses will be available, while supplies last.