The 138th Run For The Roses will be held Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky with a field of twenty that I had been thinking was so wide open that you could start the race twenty different times and get twenty different results. I will say that my thinking has changed, as you will soon see. I am joined in analyzing the Kentucky Derby by They Are Off contributor Martha Claussen, whose paragraph on the race will follow immediately after my own. Here is the analysis:
It is evident to me that there will be quite a bit of speed in this Derby coming from the likes of #3 Take Charge Indy, #6 Bodemeister, #9 Trinniberg, #14 Hansen, and #19 I'll Have Another. Calvin Borel is always dangerous in the Derby and him drawing the #3 hole with Take Charge Indy certainly gives his backers reason to hope. The classiest horse of the speed is the Arkansas Derby winner, Bodemeister, but he is lightly raced and didn't race as a two-year-old, which is a Kentucky Derby taboo. As far as those horses in the next flight, you have #4 Union Rags, #8 Creative Cause, #10 Daddy Nose Best, #11 Alpha, #13 Went The Day Well, #15 Gemologist, and #16 El Padrino. It is this set of horses that I think is the strongest in this Derby. I honestly think that the winner will come from this list of seven contenders. As far as the deep closers, there are #1 Daddy Long Legs, #2 Optimizer, #5 Dullahan, #7 Rousing Sermon, #12 Prospective, #17 Done Talking, #18 Sabercat, and #20 Liaison. Dullahan has been a hot horse since his win in the Toyota Blue Grass over the Polytrack at Keeneland, but his Churchill Downs record does not inspire. Most of the rest of this group are justifiable large longshots.
I think that portions of the speed will hold on well, especially Bodemeister. Of the second group, Gemologist is undefeated and gets Javier Castellano aboard. I am more and more impressed by his Wood Memorial as the days pass (and for that matter, Alpha's performance in the same race). El Padrino is a likable longshot in here at 20-1, plus you have the Rafael's Revenge angle since Bejarano was Bodemeister's regular rider until the Arkansas Derby win with Mike Smith aboard. I just don't see any of the really deep closers getting too involved in here, except maybe to pick up a chunk of the underneath awards.
Michael's Top Four Selections: Gemologist, Alpha, Bodemeister, El Padrino
The Kentucky Derby has become more and more unpredictable each year and there is no reason to think that the 138th Run For The Roses will be any different. Gone are the days where the horse had to run as a two-year-old and make 4-5 starts in their three-year-old campaign. Turf pedigree and better synthetic form are not a problem and don't get me started on my most hated topic, Dosage! So, I will stick to one basic premise that I feel is as important as any and that is to find a "peaking horse" that appears to be improving in some way with each start.
Daddy Nose Best won just two of eight starts as a two-year-old, but is undefeated this year and his Beyers have escalated from 93 in the El Camino Real Derby to 100 in the Sunland Derby. Steve Asmussen ran second with my pick last year, Nehro, and maybe this is his year. I don't mind Julien Leparoux leaving and Garrett Gomez taking over. No Derby scores for either, but Gomez has ten Breeders' Cup wins and knows how to get a horse in position for a closing rally. I doubt he will go off at 15-1, but should be a good value, nonetheless. Bodemeister was perfection in the Arkansas Derby, but did he peak already or is he the real thing? Pedigree suggests he can get the distance. Love the connections of Graham Motion and Johnny V with Went The Day Well. Of course, who wants to look like an imbecile by ignoring Calvin "Bo-Rail" and Take Charge Indy.
Martha's Top Four Selections: Daddy Nose Best, Bodemeister, Went The Day Well, Take Charge Indy
Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers made using these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again in two weeks for a look at The 137th Preakness Stakes. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!