Master David gets the nod

Apr 27, 2004 8:25 AM

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity is the answer and the only way to deal with the Kentucky Derby.

If you remember the past it can lead you to the future. I made myself notes after last year’s KD to remind myself not to get caught up in all the hype.

First of all, in order to get to the winner, we must first eliminate all the horses that, according to the past Derbys, will not win come May 1.

Minister Eric has never been farther then 1 1/16 so he is a throw-out. Action This Day, who won the BC Juvenile and was the 2-year-old champ, finished out of the money and can be tossed.

Wimbledon and St. Averil can also be dumped off poor efforts in their last starts. Borrego has run some good races but has never won a stakes event so that eliminates him on the win end, but he could be in the trifecta and has taken to the Churchill Downs track.

Song of the Sword has no shot at the win, no stakes victories and did not run as a two year old. Enough said.

Castledale, Lion Heart and Tapit only have two starts as 3-year-olds and that won’t get them the roses. Tapit is a double throw away because he only has four lifetime starts and will have to come from way back in a 20-horse field. His only plus is being trained by Michael Dickinson, who has pulled off some big-time miracles. I will use him in my tri’s, but not on the front end.

Friends Lake and Read the Footnotes are each coming into the 1¼-mile race off a layoff of more than six weeks. We will give them the toss. Birdstone is out, having been off for six weeks and finished worst than fourth in his last. The final ouster is Pro Prado, who has never won beyond a sprint.

So what does that leave us with? All roads seem headed for The Cliff’s Edge, but we won’t jump just yet. There is a lot of good stuff on his side like trainer Nick Zito, who knows what it takes to win the KD and can definitely get the distance. The Cliff’s Edge is coming off a huge effort in his Bluegrass win. The only knock is that he ran an all-time best in the Bluegrass and will most likely regress. But this colt could even win this if he regresses just a little. A must use first and second.

Lets move on to the undefeated Smarty Jones. What a story this colt would be if he should win. Not since the great Seattle Slew took the KD in 1977 has a horse come to Louisville undefeated and won. Smarty has really impressed everyone at Churchill, has been working fast and just seems to be doing great. However, I think he will get chewed up on the early pace and get caught late. If you like his price, he is worth a shot and must be used in exotics.

Imperialism is another heartwarming story. He is trained by 21-year old Kristin Mulhall, who has made a name for herself on the West Coast. This warrior is really a throwback with 15 lifetime races to his credit. Most of his opponents may not get that many races in their entire lifetime! This guy is steady, but may have to come from too far back and could encounter trouble. I don’t see this race being won by Kristin, but he is a fit. If you like the way he has been training and the price is right, go for it. But not me!

Limehouse finished almost seven fading lengths behind The Cliffs Edge in the Bluegrass. He is a fit but I don’t think he can get the distance. He is 2-for-2 at Churchill Downs, but both of those were sprints. Pass.

Two more horses that fit are Quinton Gold Rush, who has already lost to Imperialism and Castledale, and Pollard’s Vision who lost to Wimbledon and Borrego. Both want to be close, if not on the lead, and will get cooked on the early pace.

That leaves us Master David, a horse that looks to be sitting on his best.

Master David ran second in the Wood to the fast-closing Tapit. Trained by Bobby Frankel, this is one of the only races that the Hall of Famer has never managed to win. This could be the day. He looked to have Empire Maker primed last year but a few problems during the week prior to the Derby may have cost him.

Also, remember your history. Last year the horse that won the KD, Funny Cide, also finished second in the Wood. I look for Master David to get a great stalking trip behind all that speed, get them late and hold off the closers like Tapit and The Cliff’s Edge. If it’s not him, we could be living on The Cliff’s Edge.

We could also see a repeat of last year with Master David first, Tapit second and Wimbledon third (winner of the Louisiana Derby).

It is very difficult to predict the outcome of any event on that day, but it is almost impossible to predict a race like this a week in advance especially with a 20-horse field not knowing the track conditions or post positions. Once the posts are drawn you should upgrade or downgrade accordingly.

Keep an eye on the early races and see how the speed and closers are doing. Upgrade you pick accordingly. The main thing is keep it simple and don’t get caught up in all the hype.

All roads may not lead to The Cliffs Edge. Have fun, good luck on Derby Day and enjoy all those great KD parties.