Happy days are here again. The skies are almost clear again.
That was the song coming out of the calliope of the Belle of Louisville docked at the Galt House on the Ohio River on Saturday May 3, 1975. We had been out partying most of Friday night after a very successful day at Churchill Downs and the sun was shining brightly through our window that Saturday morning in Louisville.
It was a great feeling just to be there and part of the greatest two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby. My first Derby was just two years earlier (1973) when the legendary Secretariat won in record time on his way to winning the Triple Crown with his spectacular victory in the Belmont.
After my first time at the Derby, I vowed that as long as possible I would never miss another one. I was able to make 20 straight and all were great. There are very few things finer than being in Louisville on that first Saturday in May even if you are not a horse bettor.
The entire week is a party, but when the horses come onto the track you just get a chill. When they turn for home and every person is standing and cheering for their steed to hit the finish line first, all is good with horse racing. Our troubles seem to disappear as happy days are here again.
I have been in a quandary this year picking who I think will win the 135th Derby. I kept changing my mind. I first started out with I Want Revenge ridden by young Joe Talamo, who made his early mark in Cajun country winning like a machine at The Fairgrounds before moving out West.
This will be Talamo’s biggest ride, but he showed his grit when winning the Wood despite a horrible trip. It’s something that could happen and usually does in the Kentucky Derby especially when coming off the pace. Joe is a great kid and would be very deserving of the win. And, the connections are very similar to last year’s winner Big Brown.
As I kept going over the past performances of all the horses it seemed like I was looking for a needle in a haystack. Then when I woke up the other morning it just came to me. You have a trainer Bob Baffert that has won three Kentucky Derbys just inducted into the Hall of Fame, one of the top jocks Garrett Gomez on a horse that has won four straight Graded races (albeit all on the West Coast and on synthetic).
This horse Pioneerof The Nile has the looks of a Kentucky Derby winner and will have no problem getting the 1¼ distance. He will sit back off what should be a good pace and storm home down the stretch to win going away.
As for my prize horse, I have decided to go with another simple pick, Hold Me Back trained by another Hall of Famer Bill Mott and ridden by another Hall of Fame jockey Kent Desormeaux.
Hold Me Back has one bad race on his resume and it was on dirt. But that race may be an aberration since the track that day in the Remsen was lightning and it was a day when nobody was going to beat Old Fashioned. I can see Kent steering clear of trouble and making a big late run.
So there you have it. If you are looking for the complete order of finish, log onto www.gamingtoday.com this coming Friday or just attend the big seminar at Palace Station this Thursday at 6 p.m.
Just make it simple and enjoy yourself in what looks to be a great week and weekend of horse racing. Remember, things may not be as bad as they seem especially this coming Saturday. Have a mint julep and just remember, the sun shines bright on the old Kentucky Home.
Tears will come to your eyes as the great horses parade on their way to history. Life is good!
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Richard Saber