Saturday, May 3, 2008

The 134th Kentucky Derby.

Hey you can't be from the state of Maryland and not talk about horse racing. If you are from Maryland and can't talk track smack, you suck. Its part of your heritage you chode. I live in the backwoods of the state and I am 30 miles from the farm that War Admiral called home. Anyway I digress, as my girl Beckeye of The Pop Eye fame points out in the comments of my Ironman post, she has her money on Colonel John. For reasons other than horse lineage also. I like Pyro and my sleeper is Anak Nakal. I love a long shot. Anyway we are going to the track and throw down on this with some off track betting. My wife and I are suckers for the horses. Man Maryland needs to go all out on the betting. I don't care if this state allows slots. I want a full sports book betting at OTB establishments. I want to legitimately bet on all the sports I watch. But that is another post altogether. Below is what you need to know about the horses running in the derby. Hopefully this will allow you to drop knowledge and impress those chuggin beer around you.
1. Cool Coal Man (20-1) – Toss out his last, the Blue Grass, as it came over the synthetic surface at Keeneland. However even in his best efforts, winning the Fountain of Youth and the two Allowance races, it’s questionable whether he’s quick enough to capture the $1,240,000.

2. Tale of Ekati (15-1) – One of six horses with only two starts this year - Court Vision, Colonel John, Monba, Recapturetheglory and Big Brown are the others. Ekati’s Wood Memorial victory certainly gives him a shot although he received a perfect trip in that one. He flattened out in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year finishing 13 lengths back of Pyro.

3. Anak Nakal (30-1) – This one’s effort in the Wood actually was better than his 5th place finish but his Louisiana Derby and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile races left much to be desired. Anak will need a reversal of form here and his 46 and change work last week was a step in the right direction.

4. Court Vision (20-1) – Closed well for 3rd in the Fountain of Youth and then again in the Wood so the added distance here can only help. That closing kick can’t be ignored and I would expect it’ll show up on the tote board. Can’t ignore.

5. Eight Belles (20-1) – The only filly in the race and she’s never run against the boys. Belles has won four straight and her grandpappy is Unbridled but I doubt that’s enough to hit the board.

6. Z Fortune (15-1) – Achieved a 102 Beyer in his last, 2nd behind Gayego in the Arkansas Derby, and split Pyro and Visionaire after taking the lead at the top of the stretch in the Risen Star at the Fairgrounds earlier in the year. Bears consideration.

7. Big Truck (50-1) – Another that didn’t take well to the synthetic surface at Keeneland but other than that Tampa Derby win, not much can be said about this one.

8. Visionaire (20-1) – Ran 3rd to Pyro and Z Fortune in his first attempt at a Stakes race (Grade 3. He then won the Gotham in the fog at New York before going 10 wide to close six lengths back in the Grade 1 Blue Grass. Watch the tote board on Visionaire. He’s a tough one to figure with works that have been rather uneventful.

9. Pyro (6-1) – The early favorite before that Blue Grass disaster, but again, another that couldn’t handle the synthetic surface. Couldn’t seem to get by War Pass last year but doesn’t have to worry about that one here. He certainly can’t be overlooked especially since he was clearly the best in his two wins this year; the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. Pyro is the top money earner in this race.

10. Colonel John (4-1) – Morning line 2nd choice with four wins and two seconds in his six lifetime races. The Colonels backers boast that he’s the best from the West after his Santa Anita Derby win and pointing out that Gayego won the Arkansas Derby after all his previous races were in the West on the synthetic surfaces. Others will say that he’s never been tested on the dirt (all six races on the West Coast version of the synthetic surface). Has served notice especially after that five furlong bullet drill Sunday (57&4).

11. Z Humor (30-1) – This “Z” finished 19-plus lengths back in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and hasn’t been very impressive in his efforts this year. His 3rd in the Illinois Derby was his best. Would need to improve dramatically to capture a part.

12. Smooth Air (20-1) – Was no match for Big Brown finishing 2nd, five lengths back in the Florida Derby and only has two races over a mile in his seven starts. However, don’t think that the added distance here will be a major problem but may be asking much to top his last effort.

13. Bob Black Jack (20-1) – One more West Coast horse that hasn’t ventured a trip on the dirt but showed good in the Santa Anita Derby, 2nd by a half-length behind Colonel John. Another horse with only two races over a mile but handled those two well. Should be close up, if not on top, in the early going.

14. Monba (15-1) – Big effort in winning the Blue Grass after a disastrous last place finish in the Fountain of Youth. While Monba broke his maiden (plus Blue Grass win) at Keeneland and won an allowance contest at Churchill, still can’t forgive that 39-plus length loss at Gulfstream.

15. Adriano (30-1) - Hasn’t raced since his Grade 2 victory in the Lanes End on March 22. Plus in his only race on the dirt (two on synthetic and four on the turf) this one finished 9th, 17 lengths back in the Fountain of Youth. Good luck.

16. Denis of Cork (20-1) – Won his first three races but didn’t fire in the Illinois Derby after going off as the even money favorite. You might want to consider that he’s off the Grade 2 Southwest Stakes victory at Oaklawn but the step up to the Grade 2 Illinois Derby was a disappointment.

17. Cowboy Cal (20-1) – Consistent sort after 3 wins and 2 seconds following his first maiden effort (7th by 11 ¼) but those 5 consisted of 4 turf races and 1 synthetic surface race. Yes, that garbage maiden race was on the dirt.

18. Recapturetheglory (20-1) – Clearly the best in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby with a 102 Beyer and 100 speed rating in his initial Stakes race. Likes to run on or near the front but doesn’t really have that much speed. Still, he certainly prefers the dirt to either the turf or the synthetic stuff.

19. Gayego (15-1) – Proved that a horse can make the transition from the synthetic surface to the dirt with his Arkansas Derby victory after two wins and two 2nds on the synthetic out West. Owns a 102 Beyer at Santa Anita and a 103 Beyer on the dirt (Oaklawn). Must be respected.

20. Big Brown (3-1) – The morning line favorite even with only three lifetime races. Of course all three were monster efforts, won by 11-plus breaking his maiden then by 12-plus in his only Allowance try and finally by his five-length drawing away win in the Florida Derby. But are three lifetime races enough? Remember Curlin last year? A front runner from the 20 post? Still, the one to beat according to Churchill’s Battaglia.

Breakdown courtesy of

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