Kentucky Derby Preview

The Derby is traditionally a tricky race to pick, as the incredible streak of losing favorites demonstrates. It has a ton of history and in recent years, handicappers have done their best to find the common features Derby winners have in their history, as well as the elements that tend to disqualify horses from serious consideration. I must say that this is the toughest Derby I've ever seen and I've done my best to find reasons to eliminate horses, which is easier than actually finding the winner. So let's dive in.

f-field, a- Baffert entry

in Post position order

  1. Adonis -- looked strong winning the Wood, but that never produces the winner, he seems too inexperienced for this race -- a very common thing in this field
  2. Three Ring -- very nice filly, but no filly has ever won without running against the boys first; also hasn't run over 1 1/16 miles
  3. f-Ecton Park -- he would have to have faster speed ratings to make me think he can overcome the traffic jam to come from way behind in this field; decent race in La. Derby, bad one on AK
  4. Stephen Got Even -- the Florida horses have done very well outside of FL and he beat First American there, while winning the Gallery Furniture easily -- lacks experience though and a seven week layoff is a bad move
  5. a-Excellent Meeting -- extremely talented filly should love the distance, but like Three Ring, has never run against the boys or gone 1 1/8 miles, it's hard to stretch out that far; still, she has a lot of class and a lot of speed, may have a shot
  6. Desert Hero -- great pedigree, wonderful talent, but it's too soon; only three races, didn't race as a two year old
  7. Answer Lively -- the two year old champ and Breeder's Cup Juvenile winner -- if he wasn't running poorly, that would still be enough to throw him out -- no BC Juv. Winner has ever won the Derby
  8. f-Valhol -- won the Arkansas Derby as a maiden in impressive style -- until they found the electric shock device, the turmoil, the inexperience all weigh against him, but he's a talented horse with a good future
  9. f-K One King -- chased Stephen Got Even home in the Gallery, then, like him, took seven weeks off; bad speed figures, long rest, no shot
  10. Cat Thief -- has the breeding, has the experience, has been improving steadily, just hasn't managed to win; he's had lots of opportunities, you'd think he would've taken one of them; who knows, maybe this will be the one, he has the speed to get position early, can't throw him out
  11. Worldly Manner -- had he stayed in this country and with Baffert, he might well be the favorite; has all the talent in the world, but dicey dosage and no races in '99 are fatal
  12. f-Kimberlite Pipe -- won the LA Derby with a perfect trip, then ran out in the Bluegrass; if the LA Derby was faster I might be tempted to give him a look -- some good horses in the field, which explains the heavy wagering on it
  13. Prime Timber -- has the breeding, has the experience, has the speed; ran a well-beaten second to General Challenge in the SA Derby, but the runnerup in that race has been more successful in recent years than the winner
  14. a-General Challenge -- ran a terrific race in the SA Derby, was pulling away from Prime Timber at the end-- but there are two strong negatives here 1) lack of 2 YO seasoning and 2) his only race outside of California was a weak one; no Cal bred has won in a long time, no gelding in 71 years; look for him down the road
  15. First American -- won the Flamingo after the other top horses left town; doesn't have the breeding to run this far, erratic stretch run in Flamingo isn't encouraging on that point
  16. Charismatic -- big race in Lexington Stakes, top speed figure in this group, but he couldn't run with the top ones out west, and that race has nothing in common with his others
  17. Vicar -- won the Florida Derby close against a top field, which followed another tight win in the Fountain of Youth, ran a game race in the Bluegrass, but got outfinished by Menifee and Cat Thief -- this is remarkably similar to the pattern of Derby winner Thunder Gulch -- the difference is their running style; Vicar needs to run near the lead, which could be hard to do from this post position and a lot of his energy could be used up trying to get there…his connections are talking about him being able to drop 8 lengths off the pace and attack from there late in the race, which would be a new trick for him
  18. Menifee -- nice race in the Bluegrass, impressive enough to make many pick him, but I'll stay away -- dosage figures are bad, post position is worse; another who will be better later on
  19. f- Lemon Drop Kid -- promising as a two year old, a bust at three, I like him to finish last


My picks:

  1. Prime Timber
  2. Cat Thief
  3. Excellent Meeting

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