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2011 Kentucky Derby Picks & Preview

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The 137th Kentucky Derby is as wide-open as it’s ever been. Not really certain what that means since I’ve watched horses that looked like locks end up as also-rans. Truth is, in a 20 horse race (now 19), it’s nearly as much about the luck and the trip as it is about pedigree and skill. Still, there are horses in the race that I really like and some that I don’t. Take it for what it’s worth. I’ve been on a nice run over the past 5 Derbies with the lone exception 2009, where I found myself ripping up tickets and swearing at Calvin Borel.

 

The Contenders (Morning  Line Odds  in Parenthesis):

#1: ArchArchArch (10-1)

The dreaded 1 hole had to go to someone, and unfortunately it was one of the contenders: ArchArchArch. It’s not a complete death sentence as Brilliant Speed will offer nothing in the way of speed out of the gate, so he can settle in. He does have the class and the wins to take home the roses, but I think the fact that he moves early and will have to navigate through too much traffic will be hard to overcome.

#2 Brilliant Speed (30/1)

I’m a sucker for closers, always have been, probably always will be. Sometimes it pays off; sometimes I get burned (like last year with Ice Box). Distance won’t be an issue; in fact it might be just what he needs. If he can handle the dirt (something he hasn’t proven yet in his career) he is definitely worth a look, especially if it’s sloppy. Question marks are there, but closing ability is too good to toss.

#4 Stay Thirsty (20/1)

This is a horse with all the pieces necessary to have an excellent career, but hasn’t put it together yet. His Florida Derby has him at 20/1, but if you watch the race you will see he was pulled up at ½ mile to conserve the horse and was never pushed. Distance shouldn’t be an issue and he has been training well at Churchill; definitely worth a look and probably an inclusion somewhere on your ticket.

#8 Dialed In (4/1)

The deserved morning line favorite draws a favorable post and looks primed to get a clean trip. He boasts 3 wins in his 4 races and has the speed and distance to make some major noise in the Derby. Came from last to first in the Florida Derby, but didn’t blow away the radar guns in doing so. A nice closer, but questions remain if he’s truly a great closer, or just the best in some weaker fields. I definitely wouldn’t throw him out all together, but if it’s sloppy he gets a major downgrade. Otherwise everything is there on paper.

#10 Twinspired (30/1)

On paper this is a sentimental inclusion. My mom has always loved gray horses, so now I find myself with an affinity for them. I originally didn’t think to include him on any tickets, but then I watched him run a bit and changed my mind. The Bluegrass may not have been a deep field, but he had it in hand before being outrun by Brilliant Speed. I don’t think he had any idea that he was about to be challenged, but should have the stamina to hang. Needs a great trip, and even then he may not have much of a shot… but he does have one.

#12 Santiva (30/1)

Interesting horse at 30/1. He shows he class to compete and should have the stamina needed to hang for the full distance. Unfortunately he had a terrible start at the Bluegrass and found himself pinned in when he was ready to move. Very good stalker with a great post position. If you aren’t worried about his workouts at Churchill he is an absolute steal at 30/1. Should hang right off the pace and have enough to push late. Won the Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill in November to boot.

#13 Mucho Macho Man (12/1)

I’m not sure this horse knows what it is quite yet. He seems like a horse that is only at the tip of its potential, like Michael Jordan before he learned what it took to win. He hasn’t had any throwaway races, but just doesn’t seem like a Derby winner at this point in his career. He may very well have a Breeders in his future, but will need to show everything he has…and more, most notably that he can handle the distance… and I don’t think he can.

#14 Shackleford (12/1)

Shackleford isn’t getting much love from the experts despite having the most Triple Crown sounding name. Sure a name doesn’t mean much, but can you really see a horse named Pants on Fire or ArchArchArch winning the three jewels needed to complete the Crown. I don’t necessarily think he has the distance in him, especially considering how he looked after 1 1/8th, but if he gets a great trip he could challenge.

#15 Midnight Interlude (10/1)

If you have even read a little bit about the 2011 Derby, you are probably well aware that this horse was not raced as a 2 year old…and no horse that has done that has won the Kentucky Derby in what seems like 47,000 years. A good horse to be sure, but I see this as a speed horse with more turf pedigree than dirt. If he tries to get to the front from the 15 hole, he may very well find himself 4 wide on the first turn and I highly doubt he would be able to hit the board.

#17 Soldat (12/1)

I’m not very high on Soldat. I think he’s a hot and cold horse that needs to be close to the lead to have a chance. Not that this means much, but I don’t care for his lack of tactical speed. I think he’s a horse that kind of just makes up his mind on what he wants to do as he breaks the gate. He got a great trip at the Florida and didn’t feel like running. Has talent, but I don’t think he has the distance to hang 1 ¼,

#19 Nehro (6/1)

This Colt is a horse experts either love or hate. Since he’s a deep closer, I love him (but I’m nowhere near an expert). He only has one win to his credit, with two big closes getting him to 2nd at the Arkansas and Louisville. Critics point to those races as reasons why he won’t get it done, I point to the fact that with another 1/8 of a mile, like he will have on Saturday, he would’ve won by 10 lengths. Maybe I’m wrong, but his workouts have gotten better as the week has gone along and Nehro has a big pedigree to go with it.

 

Also-Rans:

#3 Twice the Appeal (20/1)

Once again I’m tossing Calvin Borel. To be honest, if the other jockies give him the rail again, their needs to be an investigation of collusion, or they need to be lined up and smacked. Only win for this horse was G3 and doesn’t show much distance from his sire.

#5 Decisive Moment (30/1)

I just don’t see the pedigree here needed to compete. He’s been outrunning his bloodlines, but is too much of a speed horse to hang late.

#6 Comma to the Top (30/1)

Another horse that is outperforming his pedigree. Unfortunately for this one, he is very heavily raced and may not have any gas in the tank when needed.

#7 Pants on Fire (20/1)

I don’t think Pants on Fire has the distance to hold off the closers at 1 ¼. There is some pedigree that disagrees with me, but I’ll stick with my eyes on this one.

#9 Derby Kitten (30/1)

Late addition to the race. I honestly don’t know much about Derby Kitten to have an opinion other than I’m tossing him. Take it for what you will, but hasn’t shown much in his career.

#11 Master of Hounds (30/1)

This is a turf horse whose handlers decided to take a shot. He isn’t a bad horse, and shouldn’t have much trouble with the distance but I generally toss horses that I have no idea how they will handle the dirt. Will offer nice odds to someone willing to take a chance on talent.

#16 Animal Kingdom (30/1)

Another horse whose only win came at G3, but on turf. He is getting a lot of love for his work so far at Churchill. He’s never raced on the dirt and I question his status as a “closer.” Bump up in class and post position have him off of my tickets.

#20 Watch Me Go (50/1)

I don’t see much in this horse. A nice win in Tampa, but aside from that he hasn’t showed much of anything, especially not the speed needed to compete in this field from the 20 hole.

If the track is sloppy: Shackleford, Midnight Interlude, Soldat, Pants on Fire, Brilliant Speed, Twice the Appeal, and Stay Thirsty get upgrades, while the favorite Dialed In gets a big downgrade.

 

Early Picks: If I had one chance to pick the Super, given a fast track, here’s what I’d go with:

1. #19 Nehro

2. #12 Santiva

3. #8 Dialed In

4. #2 Brilliant Speed

Mix it up, have some fun… but most importantly tell some friends to watch the race… the sport desperately needs a shot in the arm and more fan support.

Discussion

2 Responses to “2011 Kentucky Derby Picks & Preview”

  1. You forgot to mention to all the Lady Viewers, that they get to see yet ANOTHER event with crazy female hats. With the Royal wedding, that’s twice in 2 weeks!

    Posted by Bobby Digital | May 7, 2011, 1:19 pm
  2. thanks for the derby picks. good interpretations on the horses. good luck with your picks.

    Posted by kathe | May 7, 2011, 2:38 pm

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