Friday, August 22, 2014

The 145th Travers Stakes

The Mid-Summer Derby returns to Saratoga on Saturday for the 145th renewal of the Travers Stakes. The field of ten has some stout contestants in it with the winner of the Haskell Invitational, Bayern, listed as the 2-1 morning line favorite. However, Belmont Stakes winner, Tonalist, and Jim Dandy winner, Wicked Strong, are also strong contenders at The Spa tomorrow. Here is the analysis:

The top pick here will be #7 Wicked Strong, who scored in the traditional Saratoga prep for the Travers, the Grade 2 Jim Dandy. His previous win before that had been in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. However, between those two wins came a pair of fourths in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. The Derby was the better of those two since the colt broke from the far outside post position and dealt with a relatively wide trip throughout. He did dead heat with California Chrome for fourth in the Belmont, but his come-from-behind style is usually not the way to win that race. There will be clear speed in here from Bayern and possibly more from Tonalist and Mr. Speaker. Rajiv Maragh has the ride for trainer Jimmy Jerkens.

#2 Bayern was an impressive runaway winner of the Haskell at Monmouth with Martin Garcia aboard. The time before that he also scored in the 7-furlong Woody Stephens at Belmont. The only time this horse missed the money came in the Preakness Stakes at 1 3/16 miles. This might create questions about his distance limitations, since all the other strong performances came either at the 7-furlong distance or at one mile, with the definite exception of the Haskell win. If there is no pressure to what ought to be his early lead, Garcia might be able to dictate the pace with Bayern and nurse him along for the full ten furlongs. But, if Tonalist or Mr. Speaker go with Bayern, that could seriously compromise his chances

#8 Kid Cruz could be the longshot to like in the Travers at 12-1 with the red-hot rider, Irad Ortiz Jr., at the controls. He finished third behind Wicked Strong and Tonalist in the Jim Dandy and had won the prior two starts at Belmont, the Grade 3 Dwyer and the Easy Goer. I expect the Linda Rice trainee to come running late and be a factor at the finish.

I will wrap the top four selections with #6 Tonalist. The Belmont winner was the runner-up to Wicked Strong in the Jim Dandy and didn't appear capable of catching that horse on that day. His performance in the Test Of Champions was excellent, having worn down Commissioner in the final strides. Joel Rosario will ride for trainer Christophe Clement here.

They Are Off Top Four Selections: Wicked Strong, Bayern, Kid Cruz, Tonalist

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @taoMC16 and I would like to wish everyone well on their Travers Day wagers at Saratoga. There will be plenty of excellent racing at The Spa on Saturday. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The 32nd Arlington Million

The 32nd running of the Grade 1 Arlington Million takes place on Saturday at Arlington Park in Chicago. There is a very compact field of seven horses in the race, including the winner of the 2013 edition of the Million and the winner of the 2013 Breeders' Cup Turf. Let's take a look at the analysis:

My top selection in the Arlington Million will be an 8-1 shot, #7 Side Glance. This selection is based mainly on the way I see the pace setting up in the race. Side Glance appears to be able to go right to the lead and go all the way in front. Based on his most recent effort in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth Park, Side Glance should be in front here with no other pace pressure apparent. This should allow jockey Jamie Spencer to dictate how fast this gelding will go through the early stages. I also am taking into account the fact that the U.N. was a furlong farther than the Million is. Side Glance set the early pace at Monmouth and still finished 3rd after digging in late. He was part of the result last year in the Million, placed 2nd after the DQ of The Apache.

#6 Real Solution will be my second choice here. He actually crossed the finish line first for the first time in some time last out at Belmont in the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day. He sat in mid-pack most of the way around the racetrack and uncoiled a decisive run through the stretch under his jockey, Javier Castellano, who might very well be the best turf rider on this continent right now. In the Man O'War two starts back, he essentially ran the same race that won the Manhattan, but just couldn't get past Imagining in the stretch. Real Solution is attempting to become the first horse in the history of the Million to win the race in back-to-back years (John Henry did win the race twice in 1981 and 1984). Another major factor for Real Solution is the lineage with Kitten's Joy as the Sire and Pulpit on the Dam side, both excellent for turf pedigree.

#3 Magician has won only once in five starts since scoring in the Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita last fall. That victory came in the Group 3 High Chaparral Mooresbridge Stakes at The Curragh in early May. While he did follow that up with back-to-back seconds, he was never really a threat in the Group 1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot, finishing sixth. It makes one wonder how this horse will be coming into the Million, but it is never a smart move to dismiss anything that the O'Brien connections put out there.

#4 Finnegans Wake could be a juicy value in here at 12-1 on the morning line. He did win at the distance over the Arlington turf course last time out on July 12 in the Grade 3 Arlington Handicap. He also posted a bullet 5F workout on August 10 at Churchill Downs, covering the distance in 1:00.2. Ryan Moore has the ride for trainer Dale Romans, who won the Million two years ago with Little Mike.

Arlington Million Top Four Selections: Side Glance, Real Solution, Magician, Finnegans Wake

Keep in mind that you can follow me on Twitter: @taoMC16. Chamberlain's Choice each night at Vernon Downs in the summer and Turf Paradise each day in the winter is available there. The best of luck with all of your Arlington wagers this weekend. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The 155th Queen's Plate

In the 154 previous runnings of the Queen's Plate, which is essentially the Canadian equivalent of the Kentucky Derby here in the States, there have been many prominent champions. Northern Dancer in 1964, Dance Smartly in 1991, Awesome Again in 1997, and Wando in 2003 are just some of the great horses to have taken down the Plate. Which horse will join them in 2014 on that list of winners? The 8-5 morning-line favorite to do so is #6 We Miss Artie, who has already won the Plate Trial at Woodbine and finished 10th in the Kentucky Derby back in May. However, I am loathe to be selecting the favorite in a spot like this, especially with a wide-open field of fifteen, so here is the analysis of the 155th Queen's Plate.

The top choice in the Queen's Plate is #15 Ami's Holiday. While he drew outside, there will be plenty of time for him to establish a position that won't cause him to be caught five-wide throughout the race. Jockey Luis Contreras and trainer Josie Carroll teamed up to win the Queen's Plate in 2011 with Inglorious. This colt is exceedingly well-bred, with the Sire being Harlan's Holiday and Victory Gallop on the Dam side. The only issue is that he has not won a race since last October, when he scored in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine. He did go down to Keeneland in Kentucky to run fourth in his 2014 debut, the Grade 3 Lexington, and followed that up with a third in a $125K Stakes race at Woodbine last out on May 25. The last plus, I feel, is the apparent value at 10-1 on the morning line.

I will put the favorite, #6 We Miss Artie, in the second spot. Trainer Todd Pletcher has a Queen's Plate victory on his resume' with Archers Bay in 1998. This colt won the Plate Trial on June 15 and finished an even tenth in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Prior to that, he just managed to get up in time to win the Grade 3 Spiral at Turfway Park over Harry's Holiday. He did not continue on the Triple Crown trail to focus on returning to Canada to win this particular race. Javier Castellano rode this colt in the Derby and the Plate Trial. There is another major plus for this horse in the Queen's Plate: he is an undefeated 3 for 3 over synthetic surfaces. 8-5 is just too low a price for me to bet him on top.

#10 Matador is also entering the Queen's Plate off of a win in his last race at Woodbine in an Optional Claiming/Allowance race on May 28. That was his first win of 2014, but keep in mind that his previous 2014 races included four graded tries on the Kentucky Derby Trail. Julien Leparoux has the ride here, as he did for all of those American graded efforts.

The most likable longshot in this race just might be #2 Coltimus Prime, who was set at 20-1 on the morning-line and was a winner last time out on June 8. He is another that tried for success on the Road to the Roses, but the best result he got on that road was a fifth in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass at Keeneland.

155th Queen's Plate Top Four Selections: Ami's Holiday, We Miss Artie, Matador, Coltimus Prime

I have a new Twitter handle, which is: @taoMC16, you can follow me there and get selections from Turf Paradise and Vernon Downs, in addition to other random thoughts and posts. The best of luck with all of your Woodbine wagers on Sunday. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

No Crown Again


Tonalist was the winner of the 146th Belmont Stakes on Sunday, getting past the game Commissioner in the final strides to win a photo in the "Test Of Champions". Medal Count ran third and there was dead-heat for fourth between Wicked Strong and Triple Crown hopeful, California Chrome. Tonalist, who won the Peter Pan Stakes over the same Belmont oval, ran the mile and a half in a time of 2:28.52. Jockey Joel Rosario won his first Belmont Stakes in the process, as did trainer Christophe Clement.

In the aftermath of the defeat, the co-owner of California Chrome, Steve Coburn, went off on a nationally-televised rant about how Tonalist and his connections took "the coward's way out" in skipping the first two legs of the Triple Crown and spoiling the party everyone had planned. While I believe that most of this was a bit of shock in losing and a bit of sour grapes, Coburn also missed the point that one of the horses that beat California Chrome, Medal Count, ran eighth in the Kentucky Derby and the horse that finished in a dead-heat with California Chrome, Wicked Strong, finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby. So, in essence, Coburn managed to go from good ol' country boy that charmed the nation while coming from nowhere to a sore loser whose basic argument was flawed from the beginning. I could only think of the comparison between this and the charm and class someone like Marylou Whitney displayed when Birdstone defeated Smarty Jones and spoiled his Triple Crown bid in 2004. Whitney actually APOLOGIZED in the Winner's Circle for winning the Belmont Stakes and taking away from the history of the day.

Tonalist was actually supposed to be on the Triple Crown trail with everyone else before an illness forced him out of the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. What we saw yesterday was actually a testament to how good a trainer Christophe Clement is to get this horse back in the game so quickly and to get him back in the form that made him a winner. Commissioner, the runner-up, actually ran in some of the prep races for the Kentucky Derby (Fountain Of Youth, Sunland Derby, Arkansas Derby), so do those races not count? Yes, he was unable to earn the points to get a spot in the gate in Louisville, but the horse still put forth the effort to get to the Derby and couldn't do it. Under the way the Triple Crown is currently constituted, both of these horses had every right to be in the starting gate on Saturday and play spoiler to California Chrome.

Now, if you want to change the way the Triple Crown is currently constituted, that's a different story. For some reason, everyone in the racing industry seems to think that the races cannot be moved. Steven Crist of the Daily Racing Form (it's good to have him back, by the way) wrote last week that an argument that I like to put forth is irrelevant. In 1919, Sir Barton won the Preakness just four days after the Kentucky Derby and Gallant Fox won the Preakness FIRST eight days before the Derby in 1930. Let's also include the fact that Sir Barton ran in the Withers five days after the Preakness and before the Belmont. Crist referred to these as "oddities". I will disagree with him on this point because this is just how those races were scheduled in those days of yore. They weren't oddities in 1919 and 1930. I also will offer that the travel in the bygone era was a whole lot more difficult than it is 2014.

In the same piece, Crist quoted Penny Chenery, owner of Secretariat, saying "I'm just against that", and Patrice Wolfson, who raced Affirmed, saying "It would just be awful". I can see where these grand ladies of racing are coming from. They are connected with the horses that accomplished the feat in the five week span that the Triple Crown is currently run in. They are (and should be) protecting the memories of their super horses of the 1970s. The name of Affirmed always surfaces when someone wins the Kentucky Derby and Preakness like California Chrome did. If someone wins the Triple Crown now, it won't dim the memories of these great champions. What it will do is just further emphasize the greatness of those horses when we examine the gap of time between Triple Crown champions.

We are now almost in a similar time frame between the time of Gallant Fox to Secretariat and Secretariat to California Chrome. In the same way that what Secretariat did in the five week Triple Crown schedule of 1973 took nothing away from what Gallant Fox did over four weeks in 1930, it should take nothing away from a horse that won the Triple Crown today if the schedule were altered. What tends to be forgotten in these incessant arguments is that the breeding  and racing of the Thoroughbred has changed quite a bit in the intervening forty year periods. In Gallant Fox's day, stamina was paramount. In Secretariat's day, stamina was important, but so was speed. Now, speed has become the all-important factor in breeding, far more so than stamina.

It might be unrealistic to expect any horse to run 1 1/4 miles, 1 3/16 miles, and 1 1/2 miles and do it successfully over the space of five weeks. It might also be unrealistic to expect a horse to win these three races when you constantly have "new shooters" dropping into these races after they pass earlier races in the series. There are tremendous obstacles to any horse trying to win the Triple Crown. One of those appears to be that the horse is not allowed to be at his best or properly rested for all the races. I, personally, don't think it takes away from any horse that would accomplish the Triple Crown if the timetable was changed. You are talking about three distances that are rarely, if ever, seen in North American dirt racing anymore. They are three remarkably testing distances for any three-year-old to run, never mind do it all over the space of five weeks.

In the final analysis, I don't see the Triple Crown series changing much, if at all, in the future. The traditionalists in the industry either wouldn't stand for it or discredit any horse that would manage to win all three races if they were more spread out. I think that to discredit any horse that would win all three races, regardless of when they were run, is to do a disservice to that horse. No one discredited Secretariat and Affirmed when they polished off the Triple Crown on a different schedule than Sir Barton and Gallant Fox. We are in a different era now and the sport (and its traditionalists) need to adapt to the changing times. Otherwise, in the other final analysis, I don't see anyone winning the Triple Crown anytime soon.

Photo credit to media.knoxnews.com

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The 146th Belmont Stakes

History is at hand on Saturday afternoon. California Chrome will be attempting to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in Thoroughbred racing history and the first since Affirmed in 1978. California Chrome has been a feel-good story from the lead up to the Kentucky Derby right through the current anxious moments of waiting for the Belmont Stakes. His connections, co-owners Steve Coburn and Perry Martin and trainer Art Sherman, have captivated the racing world with their honest attitudes throughout their magical journey. Let's also not forget that jockey Victor Espinoza has been down this road before, having led War Emblem into the Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown a dozen years ago. There will be ten competitors trying to deny California Chrome his moment on Saturday. Here is the analysis for the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes:

While I am certainly rooting for California Chrome to get the job done on Saturday, my less emotional, more logical side says it just isn't going to happen. We have been here before and been denied in cruel (Real Quiet and Smarty Jones) and unusual (Charismatic and Big Brown) fashion. Therefore, I will be looking for a longshot to win the Test Of Champions this weekend. I'll select #1 Medal Count as my winner in the Belmont Stakes. He is a robust 20-1 on the morning line and seems to fit the pattern of recent Belmont winners. Run up the track in the Derby, take the Preakness off and come back fresh in the Belmont. Medal Count, to me, was the most visually impressive horse in the post parade of the Kentucky Derby. In fact, he looked so good to me, I made sure I got some money down on him before they went in the gate. He had a tough time of it once the gates opened, however, getting shuffled back early and finishing eighth. Medal Count did post a recent bullet workout on May 31, covering six furlongs in 1:10.3 at Churchill Downs. Robby Albarado will have the ride in the Belmont Stakes.

#11 Tonalist scored a win in the Grade 2 Peter Pan over the Belmont racetrack when it was a sloppy surface on May 10. This will be the second start off the most recent layoff for this colt. The Clement trainee has never been worse than second in four lifetime starts. He has gotten so much respect off that Peter Pan win that his morning line is 8-1, third-best in the field. It also remains to be seen if Tonalist will be just another in a long line of horses that have won the Peter Pan, but come up empty in the Belmont. In addition, did he just really enjoy the sloppy track and offer up a freaky performance in the Peter Pan? Joel Rosario will be aboard.

I will next list the horse everyone will be watching on Saturday, #2 California Chrome. As I stated earlier, I am rooting for this horse to get the job done, where so many before him have failed. His Kentucky Derby and Preakness performances were excellent. However, the question here is how much did they take out of him entering this weekend?  There were those in the aftermath of the Preakness that thought the horse looked spent and, on the other hand, there were those who felt that horse was geared down by Victor Espinoza once the issue was settled in Baltimore. He has won six in a row entering this race, all with Espinoza aboard, and a seventh straight would instantly link him into the fabric of the sport. I am rooting for him to win, I would love to see him win, I am just hard-pressed to see it happening.

 #4 Commanding Curve came running from the clouds to get second in the Kentucky Derby. He seemed to be the main beneficiary of the pacesetters backing up, as illustrated by the fact that he went from ninth in the stretch to second at the end. For everyone thinking the extra distance will aid his chances, keep in mind that closers rarely do big things at the Belmont. Usually, the ultimate winner is either first or second when they enter the never-ending Belmont stretch. This horse is still eligible to be entered into a non-winners of two race. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride.

TOP FOUR SELECTIONS: Medal Count, Tonalist, California Chrome, Commanding Curve

Keep in mind you can follow me on Twitter: @They_Are_Off. I want to remind you that the entire program on Saturday at Belmont will be incredible, it is essentially a mini-Breeders' Cup day. NYRA has done a great thing by setting up such a tremendous day of racing in support of their marquee event. For right now, I am Gone...GOODBYE!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The 139th Preakness Stakes

The Triple Crown trail has now moved on to Old Hilltop in Baltimore, where the 139th edition of the Preakness Stakes will take place on Saturday. The race drew a field of ten, including California Chrome, who won the 140th Kentucky Derby two weeks ago in emphatic fashion. The other Derby runners to come back and challenge California Chrome again are General A Rod and Ride On Curlin. That's it!! There will be a filly in the field in Ria Antonia, who is trying to duplicate Rachel Alexandra's feat of winning the Preakness fifteen days after running in the Kentucky Oaks. Of course, Rachel won the Oaks by twenty lengths, while Ria Antonia ran sixth in Louisville. It might have been more intriguing had Untapable, the winner of the Oaks, come back to run in the Preakness, but that didn't happen. So, let's take a look at the 139th Preakness Stakes:

I think it will be incredibly difficult for anyone to defeat #3 California Chrome in the Preakness at Pimlico. He has shown so far to be the best of this three-year-old bunch in 2014 and there really doesn't appear to be much to challenge him on Saturday. He has won five in a row, and while he did sit the garden trip in the Derby, the superb speed figures still cannot be discounted, nor can the expert handling he has received from trainer Art Sherman and jockey Victor Espinoza. All reports from Pimlico say that Chrome is handling that track surface very well and that is usually one of the key factors in picking the winner of the Preakness. I expect California Chrome to win the Preakness on Saturday and roll into Belmont with a shot to become the 12th Triple Crown winner in Thoroughbred racing history.

Bob Baffert has had some success in the Preakness in the past and he has a strong bullet to fire on Saturday with #5 Bayern. Baffert is taking the blinkers off this colt for the Preakness. Bayern crossed the line first in the Derby Trial the week before the Derby at Churchill Downs, but was DQ'd and placed 2nd. Baffert elected to wait the three weeks to run here, as opposed to wheeling right back one week later in Louisville. Rosie Napravnik rode Bayern in the Trial and gets the call again in the Preakness. Bayern might still have a bit of greenness in him with only four starts under his belt. While there does appear to be speed aplenty in this edition of the Preakness, Bayern might be able to withstand the early pressure and still produce a strong finish.

Linda Rice claimed #7 Kid Cruz for $50,000 out of a maiden claiming race he won at Aqueduct in late November. Since that claim, Rice and Kid Cruz have teamed up for two Stakes victories and a second in an Allowance start. The win in the Federico Tesio makes Kid Cruz the only horse to have started at Pimlico, much less picked up a victory. The Sire is Lemon Drop Kid, who won the Belmont back in 1999, so you would be led to believe that the distance will not be an issue for this longshot. His price on the morning line here is 20-1, which I find somewhat generous. If there does appear to be a preponderance of speed in the Preakness, Kid Cruz might be one of those closers who could be a factor when the finish line approaches.

Finally, I think of those horses that did run in the Derby to come back and challenge Chrome once again, #10 Ride On Curlin might have the best opportunity to do some damage on Saturday. He finished 7th in the Derby and closed well to pass some horses in the stretch, despite being nine-wide. He posted a bullet workout already this weekend at Pimlico, going a half-mile in 49 3/5 on May 14th. Joel Rosario has recent successful experience on the Triple Crown trail with Orb last year.

They Are Off Top 4 Selections: California Chrome, Bayern, Kid Cruz, Ride On Curlin

The best of luck to you all on your Preakness wagers on Saturday. They Are Off will return in three weeks with a look at The Belmont Stakes. For right now, I am Gone...GOODBYE!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

The 140th Kentucky Derby

For the 140th consecutive year, the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby will be run at Churchill Downs in Louisville. While some of the more recent Derbies have featured wet or even downright nasty weather, that is not expected to be the case for this Saturday's renewal of the Run For The Roses. There has already been a scratch from the race, as Bob Baffert had to remove Hoppertunity from the lineup due to a bad foot. The 5-2 morning-line favorite has been established as California Chrome, winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in his last two performances.

I have now taken a strong look at all of the contenders in this year's Kentucky Derby and I have come up with three candidates that I think can wear the garland of Roses on Saturday afternoon. From inside out in the starting gate, they are #13 Chitu, #15 Tapiture, and #18 Candy Boy. Let's take a look at these horses one at a time.

#13 Chitu- I was quite surprised as I handicapped the race that this horse stood out to me as much as he did. He had been considered Baffert's "other horse" for this Derby until Hoppertunity dropped out. Now, he is all the three-time Derby-winning trainer has left for Saturday. However, I don't think that this should detract from his chances in the Derby itself. Chitu has won three of four lifetime starts and was second in the other one. His Beyer speed figures have improved with each successive start: 92 in the first two tries, a 95 in running 2nd to Candy Boy in the Grade 2 Robert Lewis, and a 102 in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby. Jockey Martin Garcia has already teamed up with Bob Baffert to win a Triple Crown race, the 2010 Preakness with Lookin At Lucky. The two workouts Chitu has over the Churchill Downs track are solid. I don't think Chitu should be ignored on Saturday, especially at 20-1.

#15 Tapiture- I suppose the big story if this horse wins the Derby will be his trainer, Steve Asmussen, given the recent bad publicity he has received. I would hope that would not be the case because Asmussen is a very good trainer that has won his share of big races over the years, including a Triple Crown race, the 2007 Preakness with Curlin. I am now going to put that whole discussion behind us and discuss THIS horse, because I think he has a big chance in the Kentucky Derby. His Sire, Tapit, has been producing winning offspring for some time now and is considered one of the top Sires in the sport. Tapiture has a victory over the Churchill Downs oval, the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club, back in November. Since then, Tapiture acquitted himself quite nicely at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, winning the Grade 3 Southwest, finishing 2nd in the Grade 2 Rebel after a rough trip. Yes, he was a well-beaten 4th in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, but Danza was a powerhouse winner that day and it might have taken a really big effort to beat him. I don't want my Derby horse putting his biggest race up in the prep race. I want his biggest race to come on the First Saturday in May.

#18 Candy Boy- Gary Stevens has been on quite the "magic carpet ride" since coming out of retirement a couple of years ago. He won the Preakness last year with the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Oxbow, a horse I thought ended up having the best three races of any horse in the Triple Crown series last spring. Candy Boy won the Grade 2 Robert Lewis in February. He followed that up with a 3rd in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, behind California Chrome and Hoppertunity. I think California Chrome might get caught up in what promises to be a strong pace up front and Hoppertunity is no longer a threat to Candy Boy. This horse's style might fit the way this Derby is going to be run also. I think you might be looking at a carbon copy of the 2005 Derby. Bellamy Road was a huge favorite going in off a monster win (much like California Chrome is this year). Bellamy Road got caught in a heated pace battle up front and surrendered once the field turned for home, allowing the closers to race past and get a Derby win for Giacomo at 50-1. I'm not saying any of these horses will be 50-1 on Saturday, but they all stand a good chance of being there at the end of affairs.

So, which one factor will separate these three horses for me. I think it will be the men on their backs. Gary Stevens has won the Kentucky Derby three times in the past: 1988 with Winning Colors, 1995 with Thunder Gulch, and 1997 with Silver Charm. He knows how to win this race and as I referred to earlier, the "magic carpet ride" he is on doesn't seem to be ending. I have more faith in his ability to be a winner on Saturday than I do in Ricardo Santana Jr. or Martin Garcia, both of whom are still more than capable. That being said, here are my final selections for the 140th Kentucky Derby:

WIN- #18 Candy Boy
PLACE- #15 Tapiture
SHOW- #13 Chitu

I want to wish all of you the absolute best of luck with your wagers on the 140th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, whether you agree with me or not. Let's hope for a fun, safe race and let's also hope that this Derby lives up to the annual billing it has as the "Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports".

I will return in two weeks with in-depth analysis of the 139th Preakness, to be run Saturday, May 17 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Be sure to check out my Twitter page: @They_Are_Off. For right now, I am Gone...GOODBYE!