Below is a list of the last 20 Kentucky Derby winners and where they finished in their final prep race:
2007 - Street Sense, 2nd Blue Grass Stakes
2006 - Barbaro, 1st Florida Derby
2005 - Giacomo, 4th Santa Anita Derby
2004 - Smarty Jones, 1st Arkansas Derby
2003 - Funny Cide, 2nd Wood Memorial
2002 - War Emblem, 1st Illinois Deby
2001 - Monarchos, 2nd Wood Memorial
2000 - Fusaichi Pegasus, 1st Wood Memorial
1999 - Charismatic, 1st Lexington Stakes
1998 - Real Quiet, 2nd Santa Anita Derby
1997 - Silver Charm, 2nd Santa Anita Derby
1996 - Grindstone, 2nd Arkansas Derby
1995 - Thunder Gulch, 4th Blue Grass
1994 - Go For Gin, 2nd Wood Memorial
1993 - Sea Hero, 4th Blue Grass
1992 - Lil E. Tee, 2nd Arkansas Derby
1991 - Strike the Gold, 1st Blue Grass
1990 - Unbridled, 3rd Blue Grass
1989 - Sunday Silence, 1st Santa Anita Derby
1988 - Winning Colors, 1st Santa Anita Derby
Why do I bring this up and why is this list relevant? Well, after watching Pyro finish 10th in a 12-horse field in last week's Blue Grass, there is no way I can continue to back this horse for the Derby. Look at the list above. Only three times has the eventual Derby winner finished worse than third in their final prep, and all three of those horses came in fourth. In fact, according to information provided by Steve Haskin, the last Derby winner to finish worse than fourth in his final Derby prep was Iron Leige in 1957, and he finished fifth. None of the others threw in a clunker anywhere close to what Pyro did in the Blue Grass. Not even close.
I have been a lukewarm Pyro backer for the last few weeks, primarily because of the tremendous turn of foot he showed in two Louisiana preps. But unlike those who are full-fledged Pyro fans, I am not willing to excuse his dreadful performance in the Blue Grass. I can't.
Pyro fans will say he didn't like the Polytrack. And I will agree with that, as it was obvious that he was not tracking well. But not liking the surface is one thing, and just being completely flat is a different story. As far as I was concerned, he didn't need to win the Blue Grass, he just had to be competitive. And he wasn't.
There was something going on with Pyro in the Blue Grass, and it was a lot more than not liking Polytrack. I'm not sure if he was sick, injured or something else, but whatever the situation, it wasn't good. And with only three more weeks until Derby Day, I can no longer in good conscience back this horse.
With War Pass, at least he threw in his clunker two races before the Derby. We were able to see him come back strong in the Wood, which is reason enough to at least consider him in three weeks. But with Pyro, as talented as he is, it's not happening.
Again, look at the list above. It is there is black and white. You must run well in your final prep race to get the roses.
Pyro won't win the Derby.
***By the way, I would be remiss if I didn't do a little bragging here. After all, what's the fun of having a blog is you can't gloat a little? I flat-out nailed the Blue Grass, win and exacta. You're welcome.