Tomorrow's the big day, and it's going to be nasty, a possible deluge for the fine folks in Louisville to wake up to. Rumors say the race may be canceled (or postponed) depending on the condition of the track. Another rumor I've heard is that the Woodford Turf will be not taken off the turf no matter what. So who knows what to expect?
I'm hoping it clears early and the track dries and the turf doesn't get dangerously soft. I'm hoping WISE decisions are made.
It's tough to handicap, not knowing how the tracks may be. In the picks below, I've taken the wet into consideration. But I might make some last minute changes, and since I'll be at the Turf Club at Golden Gate Fields tomorrow (where there is no wi-fi), I can't post unless I use my iPhone. If I can post changes, I will. But whoever you are, double-check the status of the turf (if a race moves to the main track, that changes everything), and get the scratches.
I'm not bothering with the whole card; the good stuff starts with Race 6. I'll just give my thoughts and selections. You can cobble tickets together the way you think best.
Race 6: There's a single in Hot Dixie Chick if you like. But Decelerator and Buckleupbuttercup are my other two choices.
Race 7: Tizaqueena, Hot Cha Cha, and then it's a toss-up between Fantasia or Diamondrella. See, Diamondrella loves the soft turf. But she's been off form lately. On the other hand, she was with a different trainer who was new to the training business (Gary Stevens was a great jockey, though, and perhaps has a new television career ahead of him). Diamondrella is presently back with a top turf trainer. It could make all the difference.
Race 8: There's a lot of speed to close into in this race. Free Flying Soul could be an upsetter if she can set off the pace and if she handles the dirt AND if she doesn't mind traveling (first time shipper), AND if she handles the off track. She was impressive in the Breeder's Cup last year, setting the pace and giving way yet hanging on for third. This race is a big test, though. Her owner is Marsha Naify, President of TOC here in California, so if they don't scratch her, that means they think she could steal it. Having said that, the more likely ones are Informed Decision, Dr. Zic, and Dubai Majesty. This is probably a race to go a little deep in.
Race 9: Another race to go deep in, because there are a lot of good horses in this field. One intriguing entry is on the outside, Accredit. I'd normally overlook this horse because his Beyers are a notch below. But last May on this very same sloppy track, he wired the field and got a 102 Beyer. Otherwise, the usual cast of characters loom threats: Musket Man, Cool Coal Man, Munnings, and do NOT leave out Warrior's Reward. Leparoux, who rode Accredit on that big win, stuck with Warrior's Reward rather than take Accredit as his mount.
Race 10: I'm already committed to four: Battle of Hastings, Blues Street, Court Vision, and Loup Breton. Court Vision is the likely chalk.
Race 11, THE KENTUCKY DERBY. On my Oaks-Woodford-Derby Pick 3 tickets, I'm committed to Stately Victor, Lookin At Lucky, Jackson Bend, and Sidney's Candy. But Ice Box is hard to ignore since he just had a .46 bullet over a sloppy track at Churchill. Noble's Promise has a shot. Devil May Care, the filly, has won on a wet track. Backtalk, a bit slow on Beyers with this crowd, seems to love it wet and has won both times he's run on a wet track (and Smarty Jones is his daddy). So there's much to do in the gimmicks. My personal favorite is Lookin At Lucky despite his abysmal post--I can't see Garrett Gomez, a very canny jockey, letting this race get screwed up for him again, as happened in the Santa Anita Derby. Lucky will have to have awful racing luck to NOT win this race. But Stately Victor is a sentimental favorite for me as well as I explained here.
One more thing. If the main track is playing nuts tomorrow and longer shots keep coming in while favorites don't perform as usual, take that as your cue. It is, in my opinion, a perfectly legitimate betting strategy on the Derby (due to the large field) to just place a $2 win bet on the field. That will be a $40 bet. You are guaranteed to win if you do that; the risk is that if a shorter odds horse wins, you lose money. But if a longshot comes in, you make money. I did this the day Giacomo won and last year when Mine That Bird won, and both times got over $100 on the race (for a profit of @$60). Or just don't bet any horses at short odds at all, and bet the remaining ones. It'll be interesting to see how the betting goes tomorrow and to see if the gambling public is all over the place.
Gamble responsibly, and good luck everybody!