Getting a handle on the Kentucky Derby

May 3, 2011 6:10 AM

It is Derby week and a huge one for the Vegas books, horse bettors and non-horse bettors. It seems everyone takes a shot at the 137th running of Kentucky Derby in Louisville.

Hard to get a handle on the Derby this year, but one thing I know is that this will be a great betting opportunity. Get out those lucky numbers and all you Calvin Borel bettors should put $2 across the board as "Bo-rail" got a ride.

Borel is on the long shot Twice The Appeal. Calvin is no stranger to bringing in a long shot in the Derby.

The likely chalk will be the Nick Zito deep closer Dialed In, but remember the deep closer last year, Ice Box, is still trying to run them down. Weaving your way home in a 20 horse field is no picnic. You will need a lot of luck.

The second favorite still may be Uncle Mo who has just one blemish on his record, a loss to Toby’s Corner in the Wood Memorial. I would put Toby as my fourth selection. As I look back on the past performances he really didn’t beat much and there are a ton of questions, especially the distance and the heat he will be getting up front.

Mo has been working well on the slop at Churchill Downs as the rains continue to fall. The track was sealed on Monday.

The horse that really loved the off track was the Louisiana Derby winner Pants On Fire, ridden by 23 year old Rosie Napravnik. Have no fear putting money on Rosie, who can flat out ride and is fearless when she needs to get through a tight spot.

If we do have an off-track, Pants on Fire is a must use in the exotics. With the right price, the win and place bets will go in.

The Louisiana Derby has been a productive race as the second place finisher Nehro came back and just missed in the Arkansas Derby. Also, the fifth place finisher, Machen, just won the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs on opening day.

The third place finisher in Louisiana, Mucho Macho Man, lost a shoe and is liked by many.

As for Nehro he has become a hot item in the future book and has gained a lot of followers, especially with the anticipated hot pace. If the track plays fair, he will be flying late. Trainer Steven Asmussen has this colt coming in on an improving pattern and looks to be sitting on a huge race.

Archarcharch, who beat Nehro in the Arkansas Derby, is a solid animal but his win-every-other-race pattern does not bode well. Here’s a stat: 13 of the last 19 Derby winners have lost their last race.

I like a horse that will be sitting third or fourth turning for home and that could be Midnight Interlude, but he will be bucking some big time history. Interlude did not race as a 2 year old, and no horse has won the Derby doing that since Apollo in 1880. But in a year like this, anything can happen and probably will.

In the past it took a Beyer figure of around 106 to win the Derby and the only 3-year-olds in here with 100 or more are Uncle Mo and Soldat.

Uncle Mo was 108 at CD winning the BC Juvenile by more than four lengths, but that was last year. The best he has run this year is 92 in a loss. Soldat ran 103 on the slop at Gulfstream Park, but he was in front from the bell and got some soft early fractions.

So where does that leave us?

We need to look for an animal who raced at 2, lost his last race, is improving and can get the distance, Nehro ran at 2 and his last three Beyers are 79-94-98. He could be sitting on a 103-105 race and has really gotten good as the distances lengthened. Plus, he is proven on the dirt.

Archarcharch also has improved in his last three races, but he may have peaked when winning his last start.

So with the low Beyer figs can this race be won by a Euro invader for the first time? Top trainer Aidan O’Brien is rolling the dice as he is sending in Master of Hounds who just lost by a nostril in the UAE Derby is his one and only race this year. If he wins the tote will light up, but that race was 1 3/16 and Master tracked all the way only to get nailed on the line.

In a year like this take your best shot. As of now I will be betting my money on NEHRO and will be using him first second and third in all the exotics. We don’t know the weather and won’t see the post positions until Wednesday.

On Thursday evening at 6 p.m. you can get all the answers at the biggest seminar in Vegas. It will be free at Palace Station. There will be great insights by the all knowing Ralph Siraco, host of the popular radio show Race Day Las Vegas plus the new and very entertaining radio show Bad Beats.

I will be there with my wit and a little wisdom. The very astute Vic Vivio will round out the seminar with his insight. Come for the free food and pizza at 5:30 p.m. Arrive late and you probably will be one of those people hanging from the walls.

The seminar is only possible with the help of Josh Pool, the head man in race and sports at Palace Station.

My first bet on the Kentucky Derby was 1961 when my dad came home and had a ticket on a horse called Carry Back. He had a fin on his nose and since we were the only ones at home at the time he said that I could have $1 of the fin,

I had to pony up the buck. Carry Back won and my throat still gets a little pain from the yelling. I asked him how he picked the horse. He told me the best horse at Waterford Park was Saggy’s Boy and they both had the same sire Saggy.

By the way, Saggy was purchased for $300 dollars by his owner and trainer J.A. Price. Carry Back raced 21 times as a 2yo, 16 as a 3yo and 19 as a 4yo.

See you at the seminar. Oh, I will also be posting my final Derby picks on www.gamingtoday.com on Friday.