Thursday, May 3, 2007

Kentucky Derby Plays

Everybody likes Curlin because he's the only undefeated horse racing in this year's Kentucky Derby. But, he's run only three races, and not at all as a two year-old, which makes him pretty darn unseasoned. And, he's in post position two; thus it's hard to imagine him not running into traffic problems. For a green colt, ... eh. Now, to Curlin's credit, he totally destroyed the field in the Arkansas Derby and won by 10 and a half lengths. In fact, all three of his wins have been decisive. Still, he's never run in a Grade 1 stakes, and the largest field he's ever encountered was 9 horses. There's a huge difference between 9 and the 20 he'll face in the Kentucky Derby. The other thing that concerns me is that the average pace of the races he's won have tended to be on the slow side. If this year's Derby shapes up to have a decent pace and he gets pinned close to the rail, Curlin might not even be in the superfecta. Still, he's hard to ignore (he's got some of the best Beyer speed figures in the field, yet ironically Andrew Beyer himself finds the horse too green to support), so I'll have to use him on some of my tickets unless he ends up being below even money and isn't worth betting at all, except on the bottom in exotics.

Now onto the bets. I will add to my following list of bets over the course of the next couple of days (and maybe even right up to Derby post time, since I might place a bet or two based on how a horse looks in the paddock!), but for now I have a superfecta I want to do based simply on horses that have won 1 and an eighth miles at the best overall time (1:49)-- 14, 8, 12, 15 (Scat Daddy, Hard Spun, Nobiz Like Shobiz, and Tiago). (Bear in mind the Kentucky Derby is 1 and a fourth miles, which will be the longest race any of these horses has ever gone. For some perspective, consider that Curlin won the Arkansas Derby in 1:50 but still had a lot of race left in him, having been largely unchallenged. Who knows what will happen if he's under the tap of his jockey's whip for a change?) But I'm rambling. It's too bad they don't take dime superfectas at Churchill Downs, because if you box this one (14-8-12-15), it's a $24 bet. Ouch! I'm such a cheapskate I have a hard time boxing trifectas for a mere $6! LOL

Now, here are the horses I probably won't use at all, even in exotics, but definitely not to win:
(1) Sedgefield: He's a turf horse with some experience on synthetic tracks, definitely not on dirt at all and he's got the rail. No no no no. Rider Julien Leparoux's a plus, but that's about it.
(3) Zanjero: He could show up in the bottom of the super or thereabouts, but I don't have much faith in him and you have to cut the field somewhere. (Note: it is interesting that his trainer, Steve Asmussen, chose to put Curlin next to him. Zanjero and Curlin are stablemates, and Asmussen didn't have any prime choices left during the post position draw, though. But it makes me a trifle suspicious about plans for a pace set-up? Or heck. Maybe he just wanted to help calm a green colt down.)
(4) Storm in May: He was the horse ten lengths behind Curlin in the Arkansas Derby. If I have some reservations about Curlin, why would I bet this one? I guess I'm still remembering Bellamy Road tanking in the Derby after killing the field by 20-something lengths in the Wood Memorial a couple years ago. And I don't think Curlin's hurt, as Bellamy Road turned out to be. ;-)
(5) I'mawildandcrazyguy: Tempted to bet him just because I love his name! But he's been beaten by even Zanjero (not to mention Pletcher's Scat Daddy and Circular Quay, so....)
(9) Liquidity: I used to like this horse, but he's not won in a long time and has been beaten by too many other horses in this field. Plus his usual jockey, Nakatani, went with Great Hunter (who I'm also throwing out because he's so far on the outside in pp. 20 that he'll have way too much ground to make up to win).
(10) Teuflesberg: Eh. Not impossible, but he's also been beaten by Curlin by 5 lengths.
(11) Bwana Bull: Hahahahaha! If this horse wins, it's only because Jerry Hollendorfer put steroids in his antibiotics. Seriously, he was entered to run in the Derby Trial but banged himself up too much travelling to Kentucky from CA. So they had to scratch him from that race, put him on meds to clear up infection, and then the owner said, "Well, since he's there and actually has won enough graded stakes money to qualify, let's try him in the Big Race!" I wouldn't bet this horse even at 100-1 odds.
(13) Sam P: Not impossible, but I have a $5 futures bet on him, and that's already enough to risk on a 20-1 shot.
(17-20): Stormello, Any Given Saturday, Dominican, Great Hunter: None of these is impossible, but again these horses are so far on the outside they've got too much ground to make up to actually win, in my opinion. So if I used them at all, they'd be at the bottom of trifectas and superfectas I'm not even boxing.

This leaves, in no particular order: 2 Curlin; 6 Cowtown Cat; 7 Street Sense; 8 Hard Spun (who ran a serious bullet at Churchill the other day--5 furlongs in .57, hmm. He might wind up in a speed duel and totally tank. Or not.); 12 Nobiz Like Shobiz; 14 Scat Daddy; 15 Tiago; 16 Circular Quay.

In case of rain on Derby Day: well, mostly it's a sea of unknowns. The only three horses in the entire field that have actually won a race on a wet/off track are: Scat Daddy, Hard Spun, and Bwana Bull. I'd still throw out Bwana Bull for the reason stated above. So if it's raining, an 8-14 exacta box could be a decent play.

Good luck, y'all, betting on the Run for the Roses. Raise your mint julep glass, and may the best horse win! Or the luckiest horseplayer.

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