Narrowing down Kentucky Derby bets before the big race

May 1, 2012 3:10 AM

“I’ve got the horse right here…,” sings Nicely Nicely in Frank Loesser’s Guys and Dolls.

Those lyrics have been rolling around in our head the last few days as we try to narrow down our Kentucky Derby pick.

Last year we ignored a confidant who wagered on and gave out the winner – Animal Kingdom – to anyone who asked. Instead, we stuck with our 50-1 future pick, Nehro, who had a good run, but only placed.

This year, we may pay more attention to our prognosticating friend, but he says it’s not as simple as last year and he can’t give us just one horse to bet.

The top five or six horses cannot be separated, he explains, and advises us to play a six-horse trifecta box. That’s not a small wager. A $1 tri box comes to $120, quite a bit more than our typical bet. This may call for partners.

We understand the logic. All the value will be in the trifecta and superfecta because only luck will separate the top six contenders. When it comes to speed and stamina they really cannot be rated one over another. After all, that’s what makes this year’s Run for the Roses so compelling.

For us, the top six contenders, in no special order, are Union Rags, Dullahan, Creative Cause, Bodemeister, Hansen and Gemologist.

Of course, if any of the six draws the rail, we will eliminate them from our box because we feel the one post is too much to overcome since it requires the jockey to either leave too quickly to avoid hitting the rail or take back and let the other horses get out ahead.

Additionally, we will throw out the number 20 post position on the far outside of the auxiliary gate. Big Brown’s win from that spot in 2008 was steroid assisted (legal, of course) and none of these horses will be getting the chemical boost Big Brown got.

For good measure we will throw out any horse drawing the two or nineteen gate position.

With all this throwing out we may need some alternate contenders. That list includes Daddy Nose Best, Take Charge Indy, Sabercat and Went the Day Well, along with Alpha, El Padrino and Liaison just in case.

Now we need to find time to watch works and news reports throughout the week to determine if any of our top picks should be eliminated, and firm up which alternate should be plugged in. We will also need to keep tabs on who is training well and try to analyze racing gossip for reliability. And, we still have the issue of finding partners.

We’re starting to remember how much time and effort is required to handicap horses. Maybe we’ll do as we’ve done in the past – go with our gut. It’s not a sure thing, but it’s a lot less work and we only need $20.

That means we’ll be rooting for Union Rags to take home the Roses.

VEGGIE DELIGHT: We love vegetables. It doesn’t matter what kind or how they’re prepared. Even raw is good, but grilled or roasted is on the top of the list. Maybe grilling and roasting veggies is becoming a trend because we notice it more and more on menus. Sometimes they’re in a salad; sometimes a sandwich. Occasionally they’re offered as a side dish.

One of the best grilled vegetable salads we’ve found is at Rachel’s Kitchen. We stopped in at the café on Hualapai Way near Desert Inn Rd. (They have another location at The District in Green Valley.)

The salad, just $10.75, includes grilled chicken breast, romaine lettuce and a lot of grilled veggies (yum!) – eggplant, zucchini, roasted red bell peppers, yellow squash, and tomatoes and cucumbers (not grilled). It comes with balsamic basil vinaigrette dressing.

If a sandwich is more to your liking, one of our favorites is found at Grape Street on W. Lake Mead Blvd. just east of Buffalo Dr. It includes roasted eggplant, Roma tomatoes, red peppers, caramelized onions and fresh basil. The dressing is made with roasted garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.

It’s offered on a homemade French roll (very good), comes with the side of the day (last time it was orzo salad) and costs $11.

LAS VEGAS’ own Bryce Harper looked great for the Washington Nationals over the weekend. The outfielder made a great catch and banged out two hits during his first two days in the “bigs.” The sky is the limit for this 19-year-old who throws right, but bats left.

See you around town.