Cairo Prince now heads the list as the Kentucky Derby favorite. In this past weekend’s pari-mutuel pool, he closed a very tepid 9/1, which is about as lukewarm as a favorite can be.
If you want to get technical, “All Others” would be the betting favorite at 3/1.
We are still two months from the Derby, but Cairo Prince does look like the worthy favorite, at least at this point. Whenever I look very far ahead with any horses, though, I keep in mind the words of trainer Charlie Whittingham. I’m paraphrasing the Hall of Famer, but he said, “Horses are like strawberries. They can go bad real quick.”
Darley Stud thought enough of Cairo Prince to purchase a controlling interest. Race fans are aware Sheik Mohammed al Maktoum doesn’t mess around when it comes to his thoroughbred operation. Cairo Prince will now race in the Godolphin colors in an attempt to win a Kentucky Derby for Dubai’s first family.
Godolphin has won races from Santa Anita to Ascot to Flemington, but the lack of a Kentucky Derby winner is a big hole in their resume. They want one badly. They feel Cairo Prince gives them a great chance to get this year’s version.
Of course the question facing horsemen every year at this time is whether a horse can get the mile and a quarter distance. Thoroughbred history is littered with excellent names that just couldn’t stretch from a mile and an eighth to get that final furlong.
The Kentucky Derby looks like the perfect test for some reason. History shows, not too many stiffs have won the Derby.
Breeding is the first tip off as to whether a horse will be able to carry his speed the classic 10 furlongs. The Dosage Index was developed to gauge the genetic likelihood of a horse’s best traits from being a sprinter to a router. Some convoluted data-mining formula was then invented to eliminate some horses from Derby contention.
Dosage isn’t so much wrong as it is incomplete. I can tell you from my college experience incomplete means you weren’t up to the minimum standards but the professor cut you a break. I think the Dosage Index fits in the same category.
I don’t want to get too technical here, but Dosage includes only sires, and even then, only a select few. So, much of a horse’s genetic makeup is left totally blank. Or incomplete.
Evidently Sheik Mohammed doesn’t buy into the whole Dosage thing either. Cairo Prince’s Dosage Index would indicate he has no shot to wear the rose blanket on the first Saturday in May.
However, Cairo Prince is a son of Pioneer of the Nile, whose first crop is now turning three years old. Pioneer Of the Nile ran second in his Kentucky Derby. His grandsire, Empire Maker, also ran second in the Derby then won the Belmont.
Cairo Prince’s great-grandsire, Unbridled won the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic. We can safely say there is plenty of stamina in that half of Cairo Prince’s pedigree. Holy Bull, who was primarily a sprinter and middle distance runner, is his dam-sire.
Holy Bull did stretch his speed far enough to win the Travers Stakes at a mile and quarter. He also sired Giacomo, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2005. While speed is mostly in that side of Cairo Prince’s pedigree, it is not cheap speed that would eliminate his chances to go the Derby distance.
Of all the horses I just mentioned, only Unbridled would have any part in the Dosage Index formula. You can see exactly what I mean by ‘incomplete’.
Cairo Prince was highly impressive in winning the race named for one of his grandsires, the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The time was an impressive 1:42.16 for the mile and a sixteenth, but more impressive was how he pulled away in the stretch. He looks like he is for real.
Still two months away from the Kentucky Derby and no one has yet stamped himself the clear favorite. If Cairo Prince wins the Florida Derby as impressively as the Holy Bull, I would expect him to be the race day favorite.
He definitely looks like the best. For now.
Chris Andrews has over 30 years of experience as a bookmaker in Nevada. Check out his new website at www.againstthenumber.com and www.sharpssports.com. You can follow him on Twitter@AndrewsSports. Contact Chris at [email protected].