Friday, May 5, 2006

Narrowing It Down

Greetings from Louisville, where way too much alcohol, almost no sleep, and dodgy internet access have me have me extremely tired and late in throwing up thoughts to break down this year's race. I haven't quite figured it out yet myself, but I'm getting there.

The Pretenders
What I can tell you right now is that of the 20 horses in the field, these 9 are the first group that I am throwing out. I was planning on doing a little writeup on each one to explain my reasoning, but at this point I just do not have time. My toss-outs (in post position order):

3 Keyed Entry
6 Showing Up
12 Private Vow
13 Bluegrass Cat
14 Deputy Glitters
15 Seaside Retreat
16 Cause To Believe
19 Storm Treasure
20 Flashy Bull

The Gray Area Horses
This second group are horses that if they win I will not be shocked, but I do not think that the winner is most likely to come from this group (in post position order):

1 Jazil: Big time closer, and the added distance at a mile and a quarter looks to suit him. Needs insanely fast pace set by Sinister Minister, and for many of the other speedsters & stalkers to be cooked by said pace. If this happens and the race sets up like lst year, then he has a chance bombing from the back. This horse was 18 lengths back after 3/4 of a mile in the Wood and finished only 1.5 lengths off the winner.

2 Steppenwolfer: see above re: Jazil. If the 1/2 mile goes in 45 seconds and 3/4 mile in less than 1:09, then these two have a great chance if they fire when asked to go by their jocks.

4 Sinister Minister : In a race with lots of speed horses, this one is the fastest. Baffert has said that he is a runaway train and won't even try to rate - odds are that the mile and a quarter will be too much for him going to the front and running full out, although I fully expect him to be in the lead the first time they cross under the wire, as well as at the 1/4 mile and 1/2 mile marks. If he repeats tomorrow what he did in the Bluegrass, then this horse is simply a freak of nature.

7 Bob and John: doesn't quite look like he has the Beyer speed figures of a Derby winner. Although he is a legit 2nd tier contender, I just don't like him for some reason, maybe because his 2 owners (one of whom is the owner of the Houston Texans) have gone the Blimpie Guy/Papa John/Oprah massive ego route ("I have a better idea: lets put me in all the commercials/magazine covers") and named the horse after themsleves.

8 Barbaro: mostly the 5 week layoff - hasn't been done in 50 years, although it looks like he is as good a horse to try this as there has been in many many years, so a win wouldn't be a total shocker; only 2 races as a 2 year old- only 4 of the last 20 winners had less than 3 races as a 2 year old

9 Sharp Humor: see above re: 5 week layoff - also, only 2 prep races this year: each of the alst 20 Derby winners has had at least 3 preps. But he also seems very legit and has been training well at Churchill Downs.

The Contenders
That leaves my Top 5, in order. I think that the winner will most likely come from this group:

18 Brother Derek: On paper he is the best horse to me, and in a vacuum he would be my pick. The only knock against him is that he has had a perfect trip in all of his wins, and the chances of a bad trip in a 20 horse field are significant, and that he has raced against small fields(last 4 wins in fields of 5, 8, 4, 8 respectively). He will probably definitely have my money on his nose tomorrow if he goes off at 5-1 or more, although this seems unlikely. He'll probably be closer to 3-1, at which point I may very well pass and look for more value elsewhere.

11 Sweetnorthernsaint: I love this horse, and looks like it will be the best value of the non big 3 of Bro Derek, Lawyer Ron, and Barbaro. If he is 10-1 or more, he will probably be my horse.

17 Lawyer Ron: Looks versatile and great, and he & Bro Derek look to be head and shoulders the 2 best horses, but his speed figures are rather slow. If he runs poorly tomorrow, then the wiseguys will point to the slow figures he ran in his 3 races he won in Arkansas. If he wins, the same wiseguys will remind us that supposedly that racetrack has been slow all spring, rendering his slow times meaningless. Which one will it be?

5 Point Determined: I loved his daddy, Point Given, and really want him to vindicate his inexplicable failure as the favorite in the 2001 Derby who went on to romp in the Preakness, the Belmont, and beyond. Also really like his owners, Oregon Ducks(thus the green & yellow silks) and all around nice people Bob & Beverly Lewis, who won the Derby in 1997 with Silver Charm and in 1999 with Charismatic. Bob Lewis passed away last month, and it would be great to see Beverly win her 3rd Derby in honor of her late husband. Has been solid in all three California preps, and to me seems the most likely of Baffert's 3 horses to get him his 4th Derby winner (Silver Charm 1997, Real Quiet 1998, War Emblem 2002). Knocks are only 1 race as a 2 year old(only 1 of the last 20 winners pulled this off) and has not yet won a graded stakes race. Another really good horse at a better value than the big 3 - should be 10-1 to 15-1, although might be overbet down to 7 or 8-1 due to his popular connections (Baffert/Lewis).

10 A.P. Warrior. I think all 3 California horses are legit. Disappointing 4th as the favorite in the El Camino Real Derby, then transferred to trainer John Shirrefs, who came back and won the San Felipe (over Point Determined & Bob and John), and then had to over exert himself to catch up to Brother Derek in the Santa Anita, didn't get a chance to run his race and make his move when he wanted to, and got beat out in the end. Shirrefs won last year with Giacomo, his first Derby horse, and is trying to repeat with his 2nd. Not a bad value at 15-1.

What I do will depend on the odds and how they develop throughout the day tomorrow, but I'll try to throw up my strategy & what I am looking to do in the morning before we go out to the track.

1 comment:

The College Game said...

We're going to the window with the Point Determined - Sinister Minister - Cause to Believe trifecta box.