May 6, 2011

Derby Day hunches

Just a few final thoughts about this year's Derby. I listed my top choices earlier in week, but my official pick to win is Dialed In, with Mucho Macho Man second and long-shot Animal Kingdom running third. I would like to hear your picks (top 3, in order) since I usually give props to the best handicapper out there in my Derby wrap article.

I had a difficult time trying to find a long-shot that I have strong feelings about. Earlier in the week I thought I might use Decisive Moment, but then I heard his trainer say he wanted to use his speed to their advantage. So I don't think he'll be sticking around at the end. But from that same race - Vinery Spiral at Turfway Park - comes Animal Kingdom. He only has raced four times, but did run 1 1/8 miles at age two when breaking his maiden on turf. He returned in fine form in March when just missed at a short mile on the turf before stretching out nicely on the Polytrack surface at Turfway. More and more young horses are making that turf/dirt adjustment, such as Soldat. Due to the big gap from last race, mainly foreign bloodlines and never having run a race on dirt, Animal Kingdom may be overlooked, as he closed day one early wager pool at 23-1.

The other nice price out there is Santiva at 30-1. He received perhaps the worst ride of any Derby prep when Julien Leparoux had him boxed in on the rail for the entire Blue Grass Stakes. That actually makes me nervous since Julien is on Dialed In tomorrow! But Santiva proved that his 2YO form carried over when he ran a great second in the Risen Star Stakes to Mucho Macho Man over the Fair Grounds dirt track. I learned several years ago with Bluegrass Cat that a good horse may throw in a clunker for a number of reasons, but in the Derby giving them a second chance could lead to a five figure trifecta ticket! Wheeling Santiva in the 2nd and 3rd positions may be a good backup bet.

Please email me your picks or post a comment and best of luck in The Derby, especially to my friends who will be there in person tomorrow!

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