Not too long ago, it appeared that everyone would be touting Eskendereya as a possible Triple Crown winner following what was expected to be another brilliant victory following his romps in the Fountain Of Youth and the Wood Memorial. Unfortunately, things don't always work out the way they are supposed to and Eskendereya was pulled from the Derby with a minor problem. What that left us with, however, is a fantastic betting race for the 136th Kentucky Derby with the two favorites on polar opposites of the draw and a multitude of possibilities in between them. We also appear headed for a torrential downpour on Derby Day in Louisville, so the ability of a pick to like the wet surface could come into play. Here are my thoughts on the Grade 1 $2,000,000 Kentucky Derby:
My top pick is #13 Jackson Bend with Mike Smith aboard. Smith got his long-awaited Derby win with Giacomo in 2005 and might be ready for a second score here. Trainer Nick Zito has also been waiting for his next Derby winner since 1994 when he had Go For Gin. Jackson Bend has done nothing wrong in any of his nine races, finishing first or second in each of them. The only problem he had in the last two was that he was behind Eskendereya in each of them. However, he dug in both times and did not allow anyone to pass him for second place on either occasion. I like the moxie and heart this horse will be bringing into Derby Day, along with the fact that he is one of just three horses in the field with any Beyer figure of 100 or better in his career. For second, I will go with the horse that couldn't pass Jackson Bend in the Wood and that is #16 Awesome Act. Awesome Act's victory in the Gotham might be the most visually impressive of all the non-Eskendereya wins this spring. He had the excuse of losing a shoe in the Wood and gets the soon-to-be Kentucky legend, Julien Leparoux, in the irons. His Sire, 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Awesome Again, won the Breeders' Cup Classic over this racetrack, so you can even throw in the family history angle beneath the Twin Spires. I will put one of the two favorites next with #1 Lookin At Lucky. He is such an ironically named horse because the one thing he is not is lucky. He almost overcame a brutal trip to win the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last fall and was so brilliant anyway, he was still a runaway winner of the Juvenile Championship. He had to get past a bobble two starts back in the Rebel at Oaklawn and still managed to run down Noble's Promise there. He got closed off at the rail in the Santa Anita Derby and still gutted out a third-place finish. Now, he draws the rail in the Derby, exactly where he isn't supposed to be and a spot no one has won the Derby from since Ferdinand in 1986. To round out the top four, I will use the lone speed horse that might hang on to a piece of this in #12 Conveyance. His loss in the Sunland Derby was a little puzzling to me, not because he lost, but because of the ease with which the lightly-raced Endorsement blew by him. It is his only loss in five career starts, but his running style with all the speed in this race and a possible tiring, sloppy track on Saturday could combine to wreck his chances. Here is the play for the 136th Kentucky Derby:
$10 WP #13
$1 EX BOX 1-11-12-13-16
$1 TRI 13-16 with 13-16 with 1-2-3-11-12
Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Enjoy your Derby Day!! Tune in again on Monday for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!