It seems that every year during Derby week there is a horse that just seems to jump off the racetrack at all the observers at Churchill Downs, be it trainers, jockeys, media. There just seems to be that one horse that everyone falls in love with for whatever reason and that horse will be christened the "wiseguy" horse for the week. That is because all of the aforementioned groups are considered to know what they are doing when it comes to horseflesh, hence they are the "wiseguys" on the backside, and they ought to know what they are talking about, right?
Well, not so much. Some of the "wiseguy" horses of recent vintage haven't had much of a track record. Think back to 1999 when everyone got on Stephen Got Even. The wagering on the horse was such that his price plummeted all the way down to 5-1 at post time that year, making him the second favorite behind the entry of Excellent Meeting and General Challenge. Stephen Got Even finished 14th. Think back to 2005 when Nick Zito had five horses in the starting gate on Derby Day. He had the favorite in Bellamy Road and he also had the "wiseguy" horse in Noble Causeway. The experts that week felt that Zito would win his third Derby, but not with the front-line starter in Bellamy Road. Noble Causeway was the way to go. Well, the way to go finished 14th. It is interesting to note that in both of these years, 1999 and 2005, the Derby was eventually won by big longshots. Charismatic won at 31-1 in 1999 and Giacomo won at 50-1 in 2005.
So, who will the "wiseguy" horse be this year in the Kentucky Derby? I might not be the person to ask, since if you consult the people that know me best, I doubt they'll tell you I am wise. However, my guess would be Endorsement. The winner of the Sunland Park Derby this year has many of the hallmarks of a "wiseguy", including an undistinguished record before his graded score in New Mexico and don't forget the Land Of Enchantment angle. Mine That Bird ran in the Sunland Park Derby as his last prep race before his 50-1 shocker last May. I think the "wiseguys" will keep that in mind a lot in the next week or so.
Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!