Three Derby Longshots to Consider

By J. Keeler Johnson ("Keelerman") 

Fact: In each of the last ten renewals of the Kentucky Derby, at least one horse with odds of 20-1 or higher has finished in the superfecta. And in eight of the last ten Derbies, at least one horse with odds of 30-1 or higher has cracked the top four.

With this in mind, it’s clear that if one wants to make a major score in the Derby exotics, one has to find longshots with a chance to hit the board. Thus, here are some thoughts on three horses that I feel could crack the Derby superfecta at eye-catching prices…

Candy Boy

Regular readers of this blog know that I have been fond of Candy Boy for a while, but my confidence in him has greatly increased during the last couple of days. Yes, he was soundly beaten by California Chrome and Hoppertunity in the Santa Anita Derby, but events conspired against him that day. The colt was asked to race much closer to the early lead than usual in an attempt to take advantage of a speed-favoring track, and the result was a wide trip and a tiring third-place finish in his first start since early February. Reports are that Candy’s Boy recent workout at Churchill Downs was exceptional, and trainer John Sadler has confirmed that Candy Boy will be rated further off-the-pace in the Derby. The results of this decision could prove dramatic—just watch the replay of Candy Boy’s runner-up finish in last year’s CashCall Futurity (gr. I). The best part of all is that Candy Boy may very well be 20-1 in the Derby, a spectacular price given his race record.

Medal Count

Going strictly off his last two races—an impressive victory in the Transylvania Stakes (gr. III) and a strong runner-up effort in the Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I)—Medal Count has to be considered a live longshot for the Derby. His finishing kick is strong, his pedigree suggests ten furlongs is within his range, and he demonstrated in the Transylvania that he can slip through tiny holes in traffic—a valuable ability that could prove critical in the Derby. His biggest weakness is probably the fact that he has only a maiden win at Ellis Park from three starts on dirt, and may prefer synthetic and turf. However, I’m willing to overlook his so-so dirt record for several reasons. One is that he has been training very well at Churchill Downs. Another is that synthetic/turf horses have had a great deal of success in recent Derbies, including the victory by Animal Kingdom in 2011. But perhaps the most important reason is that Medal Count’s trainer, Dale Romans, is very confident in the chances of his colt, and feels that Medal Count is his best shot to win the Derby thus far. This is coming from a trainer that secured three consecutive top-four finishes in the Derby from 2010 to 2012, including a third-place finish from turf horse Paddy O’Prado, who had been beaten 11 ½ lengths in his only start on dirt prior to the Derby. If you had asked me a week ago if I liked Medal Count's chances in the Derby, I would have said no. But everything seems to be going perfectly for this son of Dynaformer, and I now think he has a terrific shot to finish in the top four.


He seems to have been forgotten following his fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby (gr. I), but I actually thought he ran pretty well that day. An attempt to rate him off the pace seemed to backfire, and Tapiture was rank early on while racing wide. He remained wide throughout the race while chasing moderate fractions, yet still put in an eye-catching run on the far turn to challenge for the lead. He did flatten out somewhat in the homestretch, but his 7 ¼-length defeat looks worse on paper than it really was, thanks to the runaway 4 ¾-length victory by Danza. Considering Tapiture’s strong form prior to the Arkansas Derby, and the fact that he won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (gr. II) at Churchill last fall, I feel that Tapiture is eligible to rebound sharply this Saturday.

Other longshots I’m strongly considering are Louisiana Derby (gr. II) runner-up Intense Holiday (who may not be much of a longshot, given how well he has been training at Churchill!), Ride On Curlin (whom I discussed as one of my "Top Five" Derby contenders in my last blog post), and Commanding Curve (who finished a rallying third in the Louisiana Derby despite a very poor start.)

Which longshots do you like?


Leave a Comment:

Pedigree Ann

I like nothing that trained in Arkansas to hit the board. In the two races that counted, they were beaten by less accomplished horses from a better circuit. A down year for Oaklawn this year in terms of local Derby candidates.

28 Apr 2014 5:46 PM

Pedigree Ann;

Thanks for your thoughts! You've got a good point, but I can't help but remember how well Oxbow performed in last year's Triple Crown after being crushed by Overanalyze in the Arkansas Derby. Now, I won't be surprised if none of the Oaklawn-based colts manage to hit the board in Louisville, but if the track comes up wet, I think Ride On Curlin and Tapiture have a better chance than most to handle the wet going and finish in the top four. If the track is fast, that could be a considerably tougher task.

Who is your current pick for the Derby?

28 Apr 2014 10:55 PM

Uncle Sigh

Many might be of the opinion that as progeny of Indian Charlie, he might be challenged by the Derby distance. Indian Charlie finished 4th in the Derby and was a tail descendant of Caro a 4th place finisher in the Arc and out of a mare sire by a grandson of Northern Dancer. Uncle Sigh's dam sire Pine Bluff contested each leg of the TC finishing 1st in the Preakness and a 3rd in the Belmont. His 2nd dam was sired by A P Indy and both were unraced.

He is a physically imposing colt with energy efficient strides. He broke badly in the Wood and found himself in the unusual position of closer. In this new role he was seen motoring in the latter part Wood to secure 5th. With that addition of blinkers he appears to be more focused in his works. He is yet to produce a breakout performance and that could come in the Derby. He has only a MSW victory in the win column. Golden Soul had a similar resume when he finished 2nd in Derby 2013.


Mr. Pletcher’s sole Derby winner Super Saver finished 2nd in the TB Derby and 2nd in the subsequent AK Derby. His 2nd Place finisher Bluegrass Cat finished 3rd in the TB Derby and 4th in the subsequent Bluegrass. Vinceremos has a little of both as neither won their final Derby prep after good efforts in the TB Derby. He finished 2nd in the TB Derby but did not relish the synthetic surface at Keeneland.

His sire finished 2nd in the Derby and is a tail descendant of Mr. Prospector. His dam sire finished 4th in the Derby and is from the successful Turn-To dam line. He is not very fast by has an efficient stride pattern and will stay the trip. A good performance would certainly ease the pain of Constitution's absence.

We Miss Artie:

His recent work with stable mate Intense Holiday brought back memories of similar unimpressive work recorded by Canonero ll who went on to shock Churchill Downs on the 1st Saturday in May. This is the type of horse that is likely to run well for Mr. Pletcher similar to the dismissed Bluegrass Cat.

His sire is a tail descendant of Northern Dancer and his dam sire was a Derby winner. Has the tactical speed to stay close to an expected torrid Derby pace and the stamina to close for a piece on a CD surface that has proven to be friendly to horses more proficient on turf/synthetic surfaces. His owner is a very lucky man but the Derby continues to elude him. Could the oddly name We Miss Artie win it for him?

29 Apr 2014 6:11 AM
Rusty Weisner

Pedigree Ann,

Your comment puts a little spine in me.  I like your approach of considering candidates by circuit this time of year and I've been wanting to go against Tapiture.  I'll probably keep a slot for ROC, because he's a horse I was kind of following early in the year, but I don't want to elevate him above my longshot slot.  


All three of your longshots are throwouts for me.  I watched the Wood replay of Uncle Sigh and I saw nothing from him.  What are the blinkers supposed to do?  Keep him in a spot where he's more likely to tire?  I'm surprised you are tolerant of this angle.  

One of your picks, Medal Count, will already be a longshot; 20-1? 25-1? -- why do you need the wretched We Miss Artie on top of that?  All I can say for these turf closers is that they won't finish dead last.

I'm curious who will finish last.  Last year I had the last place finishers exacta, boxed, picking Falling Sky and Vyjack to finish furthest up the track.  

29 Apr 2014 7:44 AM
Rusty Weisner

Here are the horses I'm trying to find the strength to throw out, but probably won't:

Medal Count

Wildcat Red

ROC (the track won't be wet, by the way)

Danza I don't know what to do with.  He's definitely in - it's only a question of whether I promote him as a wildcard to the WS/IH slot.  

29 Apr 2014 7:46 AM
Rusty Weisner

Samraat and Vicar's In Trouble are a couple more I'm hoping for the fortitude to go against.  

29 Apr 2014 7:47 AM
Rusty Weisner

Sorry for so many comments, but how are you appraising the slow works for General A Rod and Wildcat Red?  The latter has never raced anywhere but Gulfstream.

29 Apr 2014 7:49 AM

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this offering this morning. I enjoyed the comments and participation, just as much. You have all increased my perspective on the Derby, and the likely longshots. I appreciate you !.

29 Apr 2014 8:11 AM

Danza appears to prefer longer distances. He ran the final furlong in his last start in 12.3 seconds.

He is not exactly a  longshot.

If he is drawn 1-9 and the track is dry and he gets a good trip, I believe he will be hard to beat.

29 Apr 2014 8:36 AM
Pedigree Ann

Keelerman - in last year's Arkansas Derby, Oxbow's people experimented with taking him back off the lead and making one run. Confused the horse, didn't work. Horse did better when allowed to run on the front end.

Tampa Bay form has been even worse than Oaklawn form - Harpoon, Ring Weekend bombed elsewhere, who were the others who ran well there?  

Don't know about N'Orlins. Two of 3 graded preps were run with a slow early pace, and the one that wasn't was won by a shipper from Florida. Louisiana Derby was loaded last year, not so much this year.

29 Apr 2014 10:01 AM

Rusty Weisner;

I've been following's workout and training reports each morning on DRF Live, and according to Mike Welsch, Wildcat Red and General a Rod have not been training as sharply at Churchill as they were during the winter at Gulfstream.

I'm still not absolutely certain what to do with Vicar's in Trouble, because it has been confirmed that an attempt will be made to rate him off the early pace, which I feel could help his chances a great deal. However, he doesn't seem to be training all that well at Churchill, and there are many other horses whose chances I like better. I still think Vicar's in Trouble will turn in a respectable performance, but he's striking me more like the kind of horse that finishes seventh or eighth than the kind that cracks the superfecta.

29 Apr 2014 10:14 AM

Rusty- You gotta toss the Wood when it comes to Uncle Sigh.  I do not believe we've seen the best from him yet.  

29 Apr 2014 10:25 AM

Nice article Keelerman.

Looks like a fast track on Saturday, go all systems go for keying CC to super win only, the field is wide open behind him, not often you get such a difference between one horse and the field, so I am going to put all my eggs in one basket and try to cash in. I am thinking he's goes off at 3 to 1 or higher, you will be surprised how many people are totally against him, he's a very polarizing horse. That said, it would of been more fun to handicap spreading around in the slop.

WS, HOP, IH and Danza, are second favorites that have no distance limits, so they are automatic choices for me.

Distance/off the pace - Long Shots  ( subject draw, I like the closers that draw closer to the rail - distance travelled)

The great works of Candy Boy and Medal Count, which sneaked through almost unnoticed, move them top of class. I have been high on Commanding Curve since the LD, he's sure looks the KD longshot grinder type.

So no room for Dance with Faith,  ROC, Artie, or Vinceromos. History says these 4 can beat me in the 4th place slot, but cant bet all.

Now the speed/front runner - long shots.

Chitu….really like the damside pedigree, Buffer just seems very elusive whenever Chitu comes up in an interview, going to be very hard to toss this wise guy.

Tapiture…..liked his rain work, he will have to go to front this time, an may hang around for 3rd or 4th.

Keeping Chitu or Tapiture………means other speeds -  AROD, Samrrat, Wildcat, VIT,Uncle Sigh, and Harry's Holiday get the boot.

Thanks for the great blog.

29 Apr 2014 10:30 AM

Pedigree Ann;

Great thoughts! One of the reasons why I still like Tapiture is because he, like Oxbow, was taken further off the early pace than usual in the Arkansas Derby, and didn't seem to appreciate the change in running style. With that in mind, I thought Tapiture showed much more life in rallying around the far turn and flattening out than Oxbow did in passing tiring horses in the stretch. I read this morning that Steve Asmussen is hoping Tapiture draws an outside post position, so that he can get into a good rythym and avoid traffic.

I agree that the Tampa Bay form has not been good this year. Vinceremos is one of the others that did well in the Sam F. Davis and Tampa Bay Derby, yet when shipped out of Tampa, he could only manage a last-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes.

29 Apr 2014 10:31 AM
Monarchos Matt

As of now, here is my breakdown:

TIER 1 (Key in exactas/tris): Hoppertunity, Wicked Strong

TIER 2 (Boxed in exactas, 2nd/3rd line in tris): California Chrome, Ride on Curlin

TIER 3 (Beat for exacta, 3rd line in tris): Danza, Medal Count, General A Rod, Intense Holiday

TIER 4 (Against, with reservations): Candy Boy, Wildcat Red, Chitu, Tapiture, Samraat, Vicar's In Trouble, Dance With Fate

TIER 5(TOSS): Uncle Sigh, Harry's Holiday, Vinceremos, Commanding Curve, We Miss Artie

29 Apr 2014 10:37 AM
Rusty Weisner

Pedigree Ann,

The experiment with Oxbow was all the more pronounced in that Lukas had just got Stevens to ride his horse.  By the Derby it was clear enough that he would be sent, and the inside post made that all the more imperative.  It was enough for me to make him my fourth betting choice, in terms of money; didn't pan out. As far as Fair Grounds form (Isn't it "Nawlins"?) goes, I'd agree, but Intense Holiday was already a solid horse with a resume and an upward trajectory (he was my pick in the Risen Star).  The question here is if you give Commanding Curve a chance to hit the board based on the primitive angle that Stewart has done it before, and last year in particular with Golden Soul.  I'm tilting yes just because his odds will be so long.  


I think you are right.  I don't see why I should go "against" Danza; I don't see "bounce" off that performance.


There's another minor point about VIT: he's apparently small.  It's not an advantage in the Derby.  I just hate the Into Mischief horses here (Vyjack and Goldencents last year), plus I didn't like it that he couldn't handle a wide trip in the Risen Star (though they say the hoof was bothering him).  It's enough for me to go against.  Plus he'll be the fifth or sixth favorite.  I was also on Wildcat Red for a while, but this horse has never run on anything but his optimal, juiced home track and his name argues against him; I will see how the track plays Friday -- I plan on playing the second half of the Oaks card; right now they say it's deep now.

Right now my tosses are:


Harry's Holiday

Dance With Fate

Uncle Sigh

Candy Boy


We Miss Artie

Ones I'm gravitating against but could keep:

Wildcat Red




Top two: Hoppertunity, CC

Other favored: Intense Holiday, Wicked Strong, Danza

Eligible to hit the board:


General A Rod

Medal Count

Commanding Curve

29 Apr 2014 10:38 AM

Thanks, TnT! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

I see that the weather forecast for the rest of the week in Louisville has improved, so as long as California Chrome draws an outside post position, I agree that the Derby is his race to lose.

It's interesting that you like to see off-the-pace longshots draw inside post positions, because that's something that I like to see as well. I've got my fingers crossed that Medal Count and Ride On Curlin draw in the 2-8 range. I think Candy Boy might be better suited to a wider draw, since I'm hoping to see him settle in mid-pack early on before pouncing on the final turn. That might be difficult to do when rallying up the rail.

29 Apr 2014 10:52 AM

Rusty Weisner,

There are reasons why horses are labeled longshots. There are so many negatives associated with them that the betting public writes off their chances of even hitting the board. The last two 50-1 winner of the Derby were dismissed for various reasons. Let examine the two:


He had only a MSW victory in the win column. He had finished 2nd in both the CashCall and San Felipe and 4th in the SA Derby his final Derby prep. What did this MSW winner have going for him? He did not have tactical speed and always had to be used early to stay in touch with the leaders but still found extra in the stretch to close. That equates to stamina. He closed to finished 2nd in two graded races at 8.5F giving every indication that he required longer to be more competitive. Churchill Downs and 10 furlongs satisfied the requirements.

Mine That Bird:

I liked the Canadian champion 2YO heading into the 2008 BCJ. Well so much for my support as he finished last. He was sold and relocated to New Mexico. He contested two ungraded stakes and was beaten in both. What did MTB had going for him? He was Canadian champion 2YO like Derby winners Northern Dancer &/Sunny's Halo. He was dismissed at 50-1 and scored one of the most impressive Derby victories in the last 50 years.

Uncle Sigh:

The final time for the 2014 Wood was the fastest since Bellamy Road’s 2005 record breaking time of 1:47.16. Uncle Sigh missed the break and found himself for the first time behind horses. In a race that fast, a horse can allow weight but not allow ground. The pace was strong and he was the only horse that closed on the front four when they hit the stretch. He closed from 10L back to finish about 2 1/2L behind old rival Samaaart who was ideally position to win.

It was the 1st time I took a close look at Uncle Sigh. He has all the hallmark of a talented horse sitting on a break out performance. The works I saw in the blinker reflect a totally different horse. He is bred to get the distance and I think he will enjoy the CD strip. I do not believe the Big A strip suited him. His dam hails from the Northern Dancer line that has produced 21 winners of TC races.

We Miss Artie:

Spiral winners Animal Kingdom and Went The Day Well exited the Spiral and finished 1st & 4th respectively in the Derby. Neither Animal Kingdom nor Went The Day contested a race at CD before the Derby. Why should it be assumed that WMA will not relish the CD surface as well?  WMA finished ahead of Dance With Fate and Medal Count in the BCJ a race contests on dirt. None of the three have been overly great on the surface. However Dance With Fate and Medal Count will be at much shorter odds. WMA will stay 10F and is a very game colt that gives his best in every race. He is the sort that should not be dismissed.

I do not consider Medal Count a longshot.

29 Apr 2014 10:53 AM
Monarchos Matt

As far as Danza is concerned, he presents a paradox unlike anything I've seen in trying to handicap this race previously. His Tomlinson Distance Rating of 241 ranks in the bottom 3 in the field, which has historically meant an automatic toss from my exacta box. However, his final 1/8 come home time in the Arkansas Derby of :12.3 tops the field on dirt, and that stat has historically earned an automatic inclusion in my exacta box. So, either way, I will be breaking one of my longstanding handicapping/ wagering rules. Which way to lean on this horse?

I noticed that with 4 career starts, Danza is the least seasoned colt in the field along with Chitu, and is wheeling back in just 3 weeks(Cali Chrome and Ride on Curlin are the most seasoned, with 10 and 9 career starts respectively.) Also, the Arkansas Derby was his first career attempt beyond 7f. Think about that!

Pedigree Ann makes a valid point, and perhaps his win over that field was simply an indictment of the Oaklawn form altogether. I still think ROC had a brutal trip there and ran well to get up for the needed points, but I lean towards approaching Danza as a "too much, too soon" type of situation.

There's always one horse that scares me that I have to keep out of the exacta, it's simply the reality of the annual depth of the field combined with my desire for a decent can't use everyone.

I'll take a stand against him; if he finishes 1st or 2nd, he'll run my day.

29 Apr 2014 10:53 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Hey, good to see you.  I'm planning to play the super.  My thinking is that if you like one of Hoppertunity/CC, you have to like both.  So I have both in there: one singled on top, the other singled in every slot underneath, then vice versa, making two big "tickets".  Between $200-300 depending on who I eliminate.  I can afford it: I hit the Bluegrass tri for $2, netted $1200 after taxes, up $600 for the Derby, plus enough to test the waters Oaks Day.  See any reason to go against Untapable?  I find it hard to distinguish any of the others, except closers Ria Antonia and Rosalind, and I greatly prefer the former off her performance in the SA Oaks.

29 Apr 2014 10:53 AM

TnT, Monarchos Matt, Rusty Weisner;

Thanks for sharing your current breakdowns of the Derby contenders! Here's what mine looks like at the moment:


California Chrome and Hoppertunity


Danza, Intense Holiday, Wicked Strong


Ride On Curlin, Medal Count, Candy Boy, Tapiture, Commanding Curve


Vicar's in Trouble, Chitu, General a Rod, Uncle Sigh


Wildcat Red, Dance With Fate, Samraat, We Miss Artie, Vinceremos, Harry's Holiday

All that said, I should mention that I actually like some of my "Live Longshots" -- such as Candy Boy and Medal Count -- just as well or better than Wicked Strong. For some reason, I'm having reservations about Wicked Strong's chances in the Derby. Maybe it's the fact that he has never run particularly well at a track other than Aqueduct, or maybe I'm worried about the way he was weaving down the homestretch of the Wood Memorial. Does anyone else have similar feelings?

29 Apr 2014 11:07 AM

Rusty Weisner,

You are funny!

Dance With Fate, Chitu and We Miss Artie won their 9F Derby preps and they are out.

Wildcat Red, Samraat and Tapiture  lost their 9F Derby preps and are potential keepers.

Hopportunity that won a G3 by a NS and he is #2. I guess finishing 2nd to The California Comet makes him 2nd best in more ways than one.

29 Apr 2014 11:10 AM

Monarchos Matt;

You made a good point about the trip Ride On Curlin had in the Arkansas Derby. I've been thinking about that a great deal during the last couple of days. Danza enjoyed an absolute dream trip in terms of saving ground, as he never had to leave the rail at any point during the race. In contrast, Ride On Curlin spent the entire race on the outside, and entered the homestretch six or seven paths off the rail. What I'm wondering is this -- could Ride On Curlin have possibly lost 4 3/4 lengths or more on the turns, and if so, did he actually run just as well or better than Danza? It's something to think about.

29 Apr 2014 11:10 AM

I referred to this on Steve's Blog so I'll just shortcut to it (sort of) again.

50 Years ago the Calif-bred, Santa Anita Derby winner lost to an Ontario-bred.

This year: We Miss Artie?

(Together with Samraat, his shadow, Uncle Sigh, the little Vicars in Trouble and for the wise guys, Wicked Strong)

Good Luck to all.

Safe Trip to all.

And stay dry, if you can.

29 Apr 2014 11:16 AM
Rusty Weisner


You can believe what you want to believe, but watch the race and look at the chart for Uncle Sigh.  He was never ten lengths back, he made up no ground on Samraat from the 1/2 pole and only made up 1 1/2 lengths in the stretch on him.  And Samraat didn't win.

29 Apr 2014 11:17 AM
Rusty Weisner


Our breakdown is nearly identical, particularly the top five.  The problem is, those five, with the exception maybe of IH, are going to be the top five betting favorites.  But there's no reason the Derby can't be mostly formful, and we also are going against some horses that are taking money.  I have some reservations about Wicked Strong, too, for the same reasons; problem is, he's too logically a contender.  I was much more against A Rod and Wildcat Red early because I didn't like the Gulfstream speedway's distorting effect, and with the slow works the pendulum is swinging back against them.  Can you tell me why you're tossing Samraat?  I assume you don't like the combination of pace/pedigree for Wildcat Red.

I am really jonesing for some pp's.  I can't talk about the same 20 horses over and over...Well, maybe I can...

29 Apr 2014 11:23 AM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman, Monarchos Matt --

You both make a persuasive case against Danza, who will be taking money, and for ROC.  My problem with your argument is that I don't hold the three weeks against Danza; I like Pletcher's horses off of three weeks rather than longer.  

29 Apr 2014 11:29 AM


"So as long as California Chrome draws an outside post position, I agree that the Derby is his race to lose."

Wow! What a declaration. Sounds similar to some posted about Uncle Mo.

Behold the California Comet, cometh. What fanfare for the anti-post favorite for the Derby. His 19 likely opponents have no chance of winning based on some of the comments posted. The support for this colt has been overwhelmingly over the top and depicts a certain level ignorance to the history of the Kentucky Derby as it relates to high profile contenders.

There was no bigger anti-post favorite in terms of share ability and dominance than Native Dancer. He carried an 11 race undefeated record to CD. His loss in the Derby would be the only one recorded in a career spanning 22 starts.

CC has more credentials to win the Derby than most but he is also more vulnerable than most based on Derby history. He has only one route to victory and that has been on display in his last three races. Any deviation from same in a 20 horse field and no one knows how the big chestnut and his predictable rider will manage the change.

Many of the opponents he defeated in CA were left for dead by the time he covered 7F. Only two of those opponents will be opposing him on Saturday. He will therefore be facing a relatively new cast. Why do so many expect the outcome to be the same?

There are some very talented horses in the hands of some very skilled, dangerous and experience trainers. Add to the equation the fact Churchill Downs on the 1st Saturday in May has always proven to be an equalizer, no victory is certain for even the most beloved and talented of contenders.

If there is no respect for his likely 19 opponents,  there would at least be respect for the history of the great race.

29 Apr 2014 11:34 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I'm sold, actually, after watching again and taking your arguments into account.  I'm demoting Danza to the "hit the board" category, and I'm definitely keeping ROC there.  ROC also took a bump at the start and brushed it off pretty well, a good sign.  

This is betting on horse racing.  I'm not trying to pick the winner of the last race (Danza), I'm trying to play this race, and get good odds somewhere doing it.  Let him beat me! (and I still box places 2, 3, 4 anyway in my super bets).

29 Apr 2014 11:42 AM

Rusty Weisner,

I have listed my longshots. Kindly reveal your.

29 Apr 2014 11:45 AM

The more I read comments about Danza, the more I like him.

Yes he is lightly raced, but if more racing is better than less racing, he should be even better in his next start because he would have improved considerably having had an additional race.

It is also true that his last start was his only run in a distance race. However, it was also his best performance ever. The longer the distance, the better has been his performance. That is an indication that he might want longer distances.

But above all, there is this simple fact that the horses with the most “foundation” tend to be claiming horses. Conditioning apparently does not make horses better.

29 Apr 2014 12:00 PM

Rusty Weisner;

I don't have anything in particular against Samraat, but he reminds me a bit too much of horses like Vyjack, Awesome Act, and even Alpha -- horses that did well over the inner track at Aqueduct, ran well in the Wood Memorial, and failed to fire in the Kentucky Derby. I'm also a bit concerned by the way that Samraat appeared to be in deep trouble on the far turn of the Wood Memorial, only to somehow get up for second place. Perhaps that could be considered a plus, but it could also be a sign that the Wood Memorial -- despite how strong it looked on paper -- was a race that really fell apart late. After all, the previously unheralded Schivarelli was beaten just 1 1/2 lengths for second place.

What's your take om Samraat?

29 Apr 2014 12:13 PM
Rusty Weisner


Again?  Up above.  I'll be eliminating 7 horses minimum, hopefully two or three more.

29 Apr 2014 12:13 PM


You've got a valid point about Danza being lightly raced. It's worth noting that every Derby winner from 2007-2012 had just two prep races prior to the Run for the Roses, and this year, only Danza, Chitu, Candy Boy, and Commanding Curve fit that pattern.

The three weeks rest for Danza doesn't bother me either. Like Rusty Weisner, I actually consider it a positive -- after all, Pletcher's lone Derby winner Super Saver prepped for the Derby three weeks out, as did his 2006 runner-up Bluegrass Cat.

If you could pick any post position for Danza, which do you think would be most ideal? I'm not sure if it would be better to see him saving ground along the rail, or racing wide while in the clear. What do you think?

29 Apr 2014 12:20 PM

Post positions have been drawn for the Kentucky Oaks! Here they are, along with jockey assignments and morning line odds:

1 Please Explain, Jose Lezcano, 50-1

2 Ria Antonia, Mike Smith, 10-1

3 Sugar Shock, Calvin Borel, 12-1

4 Rosalind, Joel Rosario, 8-1

5 Thank You Marylou, Julien Leparoux, 30-1

6 Kiss Moon, Victor Espinoza, 30-1

7 Fashion Plate, Gary Stevens, 6-1

8 Aurelia's Belle, Channing Hill, 50-1

9 Unbridled Forever, Robby Albarado, 12-1

10 Empress of Midway, Corey Nakatani, 50-1

11 My Miss Sophia, Javier Castellano, 8-1

12 Got Lucky, John Velazquez, 20-1

13 Untapable, Rosie Napravnik 4-5

I like the looks of 20-1 on Got Lucky, who should get a better pace setup today than she has in her last two starts. General question to all: Do you think Untapable can/will be beaten?

29 Apr 2014 12:29 PM
Lise from Maine


I beginning to wonder if Ride on Curlin is a great longshot to bet on. Calvin Borel is the jockey on this horse.

I am also looking at Chitu to bet on.

Thank you!

Lise from Maine

29 Apr 2014 12:34 PM
El Kabong

Concerning Danza,

I asked Steve Haskin if he had any thoughts about this on his blog:

Help me out with something I am struggling with concerning Danza. I remember back in 2007 a talented colt out of a Deputy Minister Mare(Danza is out of a French Deputy mare-Deputy Minister back one) came into the Derby with two Graded wins at 2 turns, not one. He went on to be the talent of his class but he came up short in the Derby, well short, 8 lengths to the winner and 6lengths to second place finisher Hard Spun. I can't help but see some similar issues of foundation with Danza when it comes to asking him to go 10 F's this early. It seems a bit much to expect, especially if you consider that Curlin's sire gave him a better chance at liking the 10F distance. You may or may not remember watching Curlin train at CD, but has this comparison crossed your mind about Danza's chances considering Curlin's effort in 2007?

I can't support Danza for the win or a second, but may use him under in 3 or 4th.

29 Apr 2014 12:59 PM
Rusty Weisner


My take on Samraat is that he's highly, highly consistent, but just not good enough, and he's never been shipped.  Your take adds a little more to that - I think you may be right - Social Inclusion quit badly in the stretch after he looked like a winner setting down. I don't know if there's a consensus on his pedigree.

I don't know what to make of the Oaks.  What is your take on Untapable and her post? - is it a disadvantage at 9f at CD?  

29 Apr 2014 1:05 PM

Untappable is the progeny of an overbred stallion and I never consider using such progenies in the #1 spot. They always come up short.

If Rosalind takes to the CD surface she will mow them down in the last 1/2F to win going away. In the BCJ Fillies she broke 1st from the gates and dropped back to 20L last. She closed relentlessly and if not for a late change in course she would have won. The SA Track that day was not playing to closers and it is a measure of this filly’s ability to have overcome such a gap for a heart breaking loss.

I also fancy:

Kiss The Moon: Her sire Malibu Moon has a stellar record of siring great fillies. Dam sire Kris S of Kenyatta fame sweetens the pedigree pot.

Aurelia’s Bell: Her sire is responsible for Oaks upset winner Lemons Forever. Her dam sire is Danzig who was also dam sire of Fusaichi Pegasus and grand dam sire of Lookin At Lucky. She is well bred and has won 2 races on synthetic and should enjoy the turf/synthetic friendly surface of CD.

Get Lucky: A grinder like most of the A P Indy progenies seen in the 2014 crop. Her dam sire Deputy Minister needs no introduction. Base purely on her capacity effective stay 9F she has to be considered as there are some fast fillies in the field that could contribute to a pace melt down.

29 Apr 2014 1:08 PM
El Kabong

My Live Long Shots

Medal Count or Dance With Fate and how ironic would that be to have The 1st or Second Place finisher of the last Bluegrass Rug Dash pull it off. I think they will both do fine at Churchill. We Miss Artie is a synthetic horse who won't and I thought this before his works which confirmed my suspicion. Lookout for one of these two though.

Top picks, CC, Wicked and IH. One of them will have the race he needs to get it done and they each have a different style so I'm covering that base well. CC is just a pure runner with so much figured out right now it is hard to see him going down barring a mishap. That said, I believe Wicked Strong and IH have the most to improve off their last efforts. Wicked has packed on weight and is warming up to Churchill. Hopefully this will help straighten out his stretch run and keep him from gawking and forgetting to change leads. IH will return to his Risen Star effort, come from off with one big move, and won't have to worry about a speed favoring set up this time. If he can avoid trouble and get a good trip, he has the turn of foot speed to gun down the pace.

29 Apr 2014 1:22 PM
Rusty Weisner


That's why I dislike Rosalind.  "If she takes to the surface" is a big "if", and "mowing them down" happens more at Keeneland than on any fair dirt track.  You'll note that the top two in that last race were both coming from pretty much dead last, most of the top five, in fact (hey, where's Plod Boy Phil, anyway?).  I prefer Ria Antonia here, and she's better ML odds, for what that's worth (nothing); I made a little bit on Fashion Plate a few weeks ago, but I will reverse my pick here, with a bigger field, more likely pace to run into, and a different surface.  

29 Apr 2014 1:24 PM
Rusty Weisner

Got Lucky has problems breaking.  I won't bet her.

29 Apr 2014 1:28 PM

Lisa from Maine;

I think Ride On Curlin has a great chance in the Derby, particularly if he draws one of the inside post positions. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

29 Apr 2014 1:35 PM

El Kabong;

The similarities between Danza and Curlin have crossed my mind as well, but I'm afraid I'm not sure what to make of it either. It seems to me that for every good reason to like Danza, there's a negative as well. The fact that Danza got a dream trip in the Arkansas Derby concerns me, but at the same time, he took advantage of the situation by winning impressively in a very sharp time. In addition, his final three-eighths fraction of about :37.09 was stellar, regardless of his good trip. He enters the Derby off of two prep races, which could be considered a positive, but is two prep races enough for such a lightly-raced horse? Like you, I'm considering him for third or fourth at the moment, although I haven't made a definite decision by any means.

29 Apr 2014 1:44 PM

Rusty Weisner;

I don't think post thirteen will prove too big an issue for Untapable. It sounds like Steve Asmussen was thrilled with the draw, and it should enable Untapable to avoid any kind of traffic issues. If she truly towers over this field like she appears to on paper, I think she could get hung a bit wide around the turns and still win.

That said, even if Untapable wins, I think there's a lot of value to be found underneath her in the exactas and trifectas. I haven't taken a close look at the past performances yet, but I don't particularly care for the chances of Fashion Plate, Ria Antonia, and My Miss Sophia, and if they fail to fire, it would open the door for some solid prices to sneak into the exotics. Right now, I think Got Lucky, Unbridled Forever, Thank You Marylou, and Please Explain look like intriguing longshot options. I don't know what went wrong with Please Explain in the Fantasy Stakes, but off her previous form, I think she has a legitimate chance in the Oaks, and her morning line price of 50-1 is definitely a positive! :)

29 Apr 2014 1:55 PM
Rusty Weisner


I like Untapable, Ria Antonia in that order.  Why don't you like Fashion Plate or My Miss Sophia?  Logical contenders, but I don't like them as much as the others, either.

I like both Thank You Marylou and Please Explain as long, long longshots.

Please Explain was actually the favorite in that last race. Throw out last, cross fingers, hope for meltdown.

I looked at that Rosalind race and made deprecating comments about it to Coldfacts; that's where I spotted Thank You Marylou.  She was routing for the first time, but she did bid for the lead.

Not sure what I'd do with these two big longshots, as I don't really like either on top.

29 Apr 2014 2:23 PM

dosage profile for Medal Count: 7 7 21 0 1

if he takes to the surface he will certainly hit the board, his dp suggests he will relish the 10f more than anyone else in this field. i hope Cali Chrome wins, but my money will be on Medal Count.

29 Apr 2014 2:35 PM

Keelerman :

I will take an inside post everyday in a 2-turn race.

Posts 1-9, in this case.

I would rather lose being blocked than being carried wide at the first turn.

There is nearly always bumping going to the first turn.

The field is simply too large.

29 Apr 2014 2:47 PM

Rusty Weisner;

I'm glad I'm not the only one who likes Please Explain as a longshot! :)

The reason I don't really like the chances of Fashion Plate and My Miss Sophia is because they both capitalized on easy leads in their last races, and I was a bit disappointed that they didn't finish up stronger than they did. There's no doubt that they are talented fillies, but I think it's unlikely that either of them will get an easy lead in the Oaks, and Fashion Plate will be running a sixteenth of a mile farther than she ever has before.

29 Apr 2014 3:00 PM


Medal Count definitely has a strong Dosage profile! It's not every day that one sees a point in the professional category.

I also find it interesting that Medal Count has no inbreeding through the fifth generation. One doesn't see that every day either!

29 Apr 2014 3:26 PM

Thanks for your thoughts, JerseyBoy!

29 Apr 2014 3:27 PM
Rusty Weisner

Whatever the answer to the Danza conundrum is, it will be obvious in retrospect after the Derby ;-)

29 Apr 2014 4:19 PM

Keelerman; Any thoughts of having a contest for guessing what the final time of Kentucky Derby will be in hundreths? Have a set time to get your guess in.

29 Apr 2014 4:22 PM
Rusty Weisner


Do you have the post position stats for Churchill Downs?

29 Apr 2014 4:26 PM
Monarchos Matt

Jersey Boy brings up an interesting point as far as the whole seasoning angle is concerned. If he got better the first time he ran further, then why hold that against him?

Still, this race is unlike any other from a handicapping perspective. Is Danza battle tested based on that win? Does he have the foundation to avoid a bounce on short rest, the same as say, a gritty Ride on Curlin does? There is something to be said for being lightly raced and peaking, sure, but there is also much to be said about asking a horse to handle too much too soon.

Admittedly, deciphering which one it is as it pertains to Danza is a fascinating debate. I wouldn't even call it an argument, because to me it's by far the most important and interesting betting decision in terms of exotics structuring in this year's race.


I agree that if you like Hoppertunity, you have to like Cali Chrome, and I do... how can I not? But at likely 3-1 or below I think there are angles you can use to try to beat him on the top line for sure, even combining him in 2nd place with my top two should be a decent exacta if it hits. My main angles on Hoppertunity are his pedigree, and his towering Tomlinson Distance figure confirms this along with his running style and gallop outs demonstrated, as well as the fact that he has run well on so many different tracks, and appears to be flourishing at Churchill. Cali Chrome may just be a monster, but there's something to be said for the fact that he's never raced outside his comfort zone and I don't like it at all that he arrived so late at Churchill. I also happen to think he will be closer to the pace than people think, awaiting tomorrow to finalize that opinion...and his pedigree is still open for interpretation at this distance on a surface level. I'm thinking he's 2nd or 3rd early and probably never worse, even at the finish, but think there are plenty of reasons to take a shot with Hoppertunity on top of him at between 3 and 4 times the price.

29 Apr 2014 4:27 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I will take a shot against CC in the trifectas.  I think I will play tickets where one or the other is on.

29 Apr 2014 4:37 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Also a shot singling Hoppertunity on maybe the doubles or P3's.

29 Apr 2014 4:38 PM
Monarchos Matt


Kudos for trying your hand at the Super. With the $1 minimum it just gets so expensive, as I'm of the belief that you pretty much have to key "ALL" in the 4th spot...we've seen some very crazy results land there over the course of Derby history. But, you did have a strong prep season so why not go for the big one? I'd probably do the same but was up only marginally on the preps, mostly thanks to Wicked Strong winning the Wood.

We've had this debate before, but my main plays are going to be a 4 horse exacta box, a 2 horse exacta box, and a trifecta keyed: 2/4/8. I know that you are of the opinion that you shouldn't try to separate the 2nd and 3rd spots, and that you are better served just boxing them all. But consider this- isn't that what an exacta is in the first place? If I'm already set on a 4 horse exacta box, which I am (Hopp, Wicked, CC, ROC), then all you are really doing with the tri is making the same bet, giving up two on the win line, and trading that for giving yourself another 4 chances to hit the next spot right? And it seems reasonable to me to give yourself twice as many chances in each spot than the one before it.

I may also bet a CC/3/3 using the other horses from my exacta as a small hedge.

29 Apr 2014 4:42 PM
Monarchos Matt


I agree, I think the real value in the tri payoff will be hitting it without CC on the top line. My main bet will be keyed with Hoppertunity and Wicked Strong above. But, I always ask myself, without spreading yourself too thin, are there scenarios that could occur that would pay well that you'd be beside yourself over if hit and you weren't on it? I can live with missing a CC/Danza/ Hopp tri. Not sure I can live with missing CC/ ROC/ Hopp though, that will still very pay well. Granted I'd still have the exacta and some outright money as I plan to bet ROC to show at the very least, but you get the idea. Decisions, decisions.

When do we start talking undercard?

29 Apr 2014 4:50 PM

General A Rod for the win..... in the Oaks My Miss Sophia wins.

29 Apr 2014 5:43 PM


That sounds good to me! The rules will be simple: All you have to do to partake is post a guess on what the final time for the Kentucky Derby will be, in hundredths of a second, and post it by 5:00 ET on Derby Day. Whoever comes closest gets bragging rights!

Anyone who wishes to play can post their guess here, or you can wait until my pre-Derby analysis blog post comes up on Thursday and post it there.

I also plan on holding one of our regular handicapping contests this Saturday, where everyone picks one horse in each of the contest races and the winner is whoever compiles the highest aggregate $2 win/place payoffs on their selections.

Would anyone like to hold a two-day contest, using races from both Oaks Day and Derby Day? Or should we stick with just the races on Derby Day?

29 Apr 2014 6:16 PM

Rusty Weisner;

I assume you mean the post position statistics for Churchill Downs in general, and not the Kentucky Derby specifically? I have the Derby post position statistics, but I'm afraid I don't have anything on Churchill. However, you might ask Dan Illman of -- he has shared post position statistics in the past, and he might be able to help you.

Here's a link to his latest blog post:

29 Apr 2014 6:22 PM

Gl to all.My betting plan is far from finalized no post positions yet.IMO the MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR BY FAR is who will run their race.In this twenty horse field the colt that has shown the most is of course the favorite, will he be able to run his race with these circumstances, and how will you bet him.You have to try to figure out how the race will be run, and I can do that for the most part but only for the first quarter.CC has to break and not try to get the lead, if he does get the lead, I dont think he can win, but an in the money finish is probable.As a front  runner there is no way in the world that he is as good as Bode was heading into the race from a pedigree standpoint, as well as speed figure viewpoint, Bode posted a 109 starting from an outside post in a field of eleven at 9 furlongs in his last prep.I will try to figure out who will have good position after the first turn and hope I can use that to figure out who will be there in the end.I will think about almost the entire field,eventhough I have my favorites.If I can factor in the circumstances more than my favorites I will win a bet.That is easier said than done for all of us especially because we already have pre-concieved ideas about who to play and forget about how the race will be run.

Weather could cause me to make changes all of the circumstances matter every race is different.

29 Apr 2014 6:23 PM

BTW I dont dislike CC but I also think Big Brown had a lOT TOUGHER PREP in the Fl Derby outta post 12,at that time I dont think any horse had won outta post twelve at 9 furlongs at Gulfstream.

29 Apr 2014 6:29 PM

It seems that colts have a short memory and THEIR RACE the one they will try to emulate is the LAST ONE THEY RAN.If you dont believe me check the charts of their last prep and the Kentucky Derby winners only the winners for this exercise.

29 Apr 2014 6:44 PM

Monarchos Matt;

I was just taking a look at the Kentucky Oaks undercard, and it looks like there's a nice set of races on the schedule! In case anyone hasn't seen the entries yet, here they are:

From an entertainment perspective, the Alysheba Stakes (gr. II) might end up being the highlight of the entire card. Not only does the race feature four of last year's Kentucky Derby starters -- Will Take Charge, Mylute, Normandy Invasion, and Golden Soul -- it has also attracted recent Oaklawn allowance winner Moonshine Mullin (who earned a 108 Beyer speed figure for that victory), 2012 Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Golden Ticket, and the speedy California shipper Appealing Tale. The Edgewood Stakes and Eight Belles Stakes have also drawn very deep fields, and I'm sure there are plenty of live longshots to be found.

One race that came up a bit light in my opinion was the La Troinne Stakes, which is being run as a grade I for the first time this year. In recent years, the race has drawn horses like Blind Luck, Unrivaled Belle, Rachel Alexandra, and Believe You Can, so it's a bit disappointing to see it come up with only six runners this year, the most accomplished being On Fire Baby and Unlimited Budget

Does anyone have any early thoughts on the Oaks Day undercard races?

29 Apr 2014 6:50 PM

Oxbow was back and forth as far as where in the pack he ran from,in his last prep to KD but his KD race set him up very nicely for his Preakness score.

29 Apr 2014 6:52 PM


I think you're right about that Big Brown post position statistic; I seem to recall that as well.

29 Apr 2014 7:32 PM

Keelerman you do a good job of not only baiting posters for more, but of jumping in before instigators of serial arguements jump in.

I am from South Florida and since you remember Big Brown you will also remember Barbaro won the Fl Derby outta the 10 hole which I think hadnt been done up until then.

29 Apr 2014 9:14 PM
calico cat

I get a kick out of people saying: "I will try to beat him with a bet on one horse or the other." As if one's bet has anything to do with the outcome of a race. After losing too many bets trying to "beat" a stand-out horse, I've given up on that way of thinking. No matter which horses I throw in there, Chrome will be included on the top of my exotics.  

Good luck everyone. May all the horses and jockeys come back safe and sound.  

29 Apr 2014 10:13 PM

Rusty : How do you keep track of who you're betting ?  It seems like you change your mind anytime you read someone elses post about a horse.  I would go crazy keeping track of it lol, I do hope you end up with the right horses come Derby Day and it doesn't cost too much.  Only advise I can give (and you certainly don't have to take it) is follow your instinct, you can pick winners, I've seen it.  There's nothing worse than picking your horses only to be swayed by others, that's happened to me many many many times and I only have myself to blame.  I'd rather take the loss with my own picks than take a loss because I followed others...

Keelerman : With regards to Medal count, I'm not sure he will be a longshot.  There's a lot of people who are looking at him to run well but I just don't see it...he is one that's been very inconsistent...he won the Transylvania on the lead, not going to happen in the Derby.  He closed well in the Bluegrass but that's questionable for me the way that race fell apart.  If he hits the board, even 3rd, I'll be broke lol.  We Miss Artie is another one I'll be tossing, if Todd is being coy with this horse, so be it but I'll go with his comments that the horse isn't taking to the track, hopefully he was being honest.

My longest shot that I'll be using will be Commanding Curve, something about this horse that intrigues me a lot.  I think he's one that's going to run big, just can't place him right now...have to watch his post draw then his races before I decide where to use him.

Pending his post draw, I'm still holding #1 for Samraat...IH with Johnny V a close 2nd and Chitu for 3rd.   I'm praying that he gets the 1 hole just so Samraat doesn't lol.  Post draw for IH is not a big deal to me, he's not going to be up there so JV can take his time finding the right spot for him, then close on Samraat as much as he can...

29 Apr 2014 11:14 PM


How many horses that have won a Derby prep in a big upset has returned to win the Derby?

29 Apr 2014 11:53 PM


You are correct about Uncle Sigh, he is going to run huge. I am okay with all the can lead a horse to water...

30 Apr 2014 12:04 AM


Grindstone (son) 1st, 1996 Derby; Unbridled’s Song (son) was the favorite and finished 5th.

Empire Maker (son) 2nd 2003 Derby: 1st Belmont

Birdstone (grandson) sired by Grindstone, 1st 2004 Belmont

Eight Bells (granddaughter) sired by Unbridled’s Song, 2nd 2008 Derby

Mine That Bird (g/grandson) sired by Birdstone, 1st, 2009 Derby; 2nd Preakness; 3rd Belmont

Pioneerof The Nile (grandson) sired by Empire Maker, 2nd 2009 Derby

Summer Bird (great grandson) sired by Birdstone, 1st, 2009 Belmont

Dunkirk (grandson) sired by Unbridled’s Song, 2nd 2009 Belmont

Bodemeister (grandson) sired by Empire Maker, 2nd 2012 Derby & Preakness

Dullahan (great grandson) sires by Even The Score, 3rd 2012 Derby

The tail descendants of Unbridled have been brilliant in the Triple Crown series.

In 2009 the 1st & 2nd past the post in the Derby were sired by tail descendants of Unbridled. In the Belmont of the said year 1st, 2nd & 3rd past the post were sired by tail descendants of Unbridled.

In the 2012 Derby 2nd & 3rd past the post in the Derby were sired by tail descendants of Unbridled

Birdstone won the Belmont @36-1; Mine That Bird won the Derby @50-1; Summer Bird won the Belmont @12-1.

There is one horse sired by a tail descendant of Unbridled in the 2014 Derby and he is being treated like chopped liver. Surely he must be considered as one of the longshots. He will be in my adjusted top five.

30 Apr 2014 1:35 AM

Saw Candy Boy at the Santa Anita Derby.  Probably one of the best looking horses I have seen since Quality Road.  Sadler says he has filled out since, and his Kentucky works are solid.  Candy Boy standing next to California Chrome made the latter look like a filly.  Skinny, small...He's a plodder but may stay out of trouble enough to hit the super.

30 Apr 2014 1:36 AM

Candy Boy:

I like the horse but hate his name. He was destroyed by Shared Belief and California Chrome. Hopportunity under a snug hold easily finished ahead of him in the SA Derby. Will CD and 10F change his fortunes? Highly unlikely.

30 Apr 2014 2:04 AM

calico cat I agree what I have to beat are my pre-conceived ideas which include human greed and not any of the entrants.BTW its called pari-mutual wagering and I NEVER SAW ANY HORSE MAKE A BET his human connections yes, I have seen ones I have known betting.

30 Apr 2014 3:33 AM

Any horse outta Empire Maker is outta of blue hen mare Toussaud, and for you pedigree experts how many of this years runners have blue hen mares so close in their pedigress not 3 or more generations back.

Pioneer of the Nile entrant Vinceremos,which means to defeat in Spanish will do well to hit da board.

30 Apr 2014 3:42 AM
Rusty Weisner


I don't expect you to keep track of betting, but the other participants here know my top two have been Hoppertunity and California Chrome since before the SA Derby.

My wagering strategy has also been to have select closers in the non-win slots under those.

Figuring out how many other horses I can keep is hard.  It just is.  

Sometimes people make comments I think are very perceptive and which change my mind.  Why else should I be here?

30 Apr 2014 7:30 AM
Rusty Weisner


Yes, CD post statistics.  I can probably get it at DRF in the next couple days.  

For me, the far outside post is enough to play the Oaks, i.e., it is enough for me to entertain the possibility of the best horse, Untapable, having enough bad racing luck to lose.

30 Apr 2014 7:32 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I think I can keep my superfecta tickets to $216.  I am going for the "whole enchilada" with this bet.

My tris will be chalkier.  I'll stick to Hoppertunity with any exactas.

30 Apr 2014 7:41 AM

Monarchos Matt . Any reason you don't have Intense Holiday in your top 4 ? Just wondering.

Brontex . My picks yesterday was for CC drawing 14-20, if he draws inside, or rain, my bet changes, and he will not be a single on top. I also have a back up for him missing the board.

Will prob exacta - Ria Antonia with untapable.

Any reason behind Roslind not being on Lasix ?

30 Apr 2014 8:04 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I've got the Oaks pps and will look over the second half of the card.

Derby Day is like the Bataan Death March for me:  I'll be playing the entire card.  I actually enjoy the early part of the card:  Msp,Msp,Alw,Alw,Alw.  I'll be playing the early two P4's with "their" money.  By the time I get to R11 I won't be in my right mind and will have no qualms of tossing $400 at the Derby, though I would like to be sitting on a P4 or P5 and be in a position to refrain.  One third of my annual budget goes to Derby Day, so I could lose as much as $1200.  There's no telling how much I can win, of course.  Last year was horribly chalky, though, in the second half of the card.  The year before the Woodford beat me and I barely bet the Derby verticals, then I missed the late, late P4 by less then a nose in the last race.  

30 Apr 2014 8:09 AM
Rusty Weisner

calico cat,

I like your comment, but the money is still often in finding a weak favorite.  One of the positive influences these blogs have had on me is that they force me to "man up" with my picks and avoid chalk more than I used to.

There's also a third option besides playing chalk and trying to beat it, though I don't exercise it as much as I should:  skipping the race.

30 Apr 2014 8:18 AM

Ria Antonia with Untapable:

Ria Antonia was sucking air when Rosalind was motoring in the final furlong of the BCJ. She closed 20L to get within a NS of Ria Antonia on a track that was not friendly to closers. Chiurchill Downs is far more accommodating to closers and turf/synthetic type like Rosalind.

Untapable has finished ahead of Rosalind twice in three meetings. Rosalind finished ahead of her in the BCJ. In the Hollywood Starlet they finished in photo for 3rd with Untapable assessed to have finished 3rd.

If Rosalind show up I expect her to be very tough. It is unlikely that any of the two fillies above will be able to withstand her late charge.

30 Apr 2014 8:36 AM
Monarchos Matt


I currently have Intense Holiday as my #7 horse, which means I'll be slotting him on the bottom of my tri, but out of the exacta.

My feeling is that there would have to be an extreme pace meltdown to get him into the top two. While he certainly stands to improve, and has been training well at Churchill, I worry that he just doesn't have the speed (still no 100+ Beyers), and his come home times in the Louisiana Derby (38.93, 13.62) leave lots to be desired, even when giving consideration to some of the mental shortcomings he demonstrated in that race. His pedigree is decent but middling against this field (268 Tomlinson), and you could argue that it is more geared towards 9f than 10f.

While on the subject of 3/8 come home times, here's an interesting tidbit: Last year the 4 fastest come home times in a final dirt prep (opening 3/4 sub 113) belonged to Golden Soul, Orb, Mylute and Revolutionary. Had you boxed those horses in a trifecta, you'd have made a healthy return.

For curious types, this year's top 4 under that criteria are: California Chrome, Danza, Wicked Strong and Wildcat Red. If you want to toss all GP races due to bias, then the next horse is Hoppertunity, followed by Ride on Curlin.

30 Apr 2014 8:51 AM

The Tapit sired Mufajaah reminds me a lot of Pabbles the tiny but brilliants chestnut European invader that won the Breeders’ Cup Turf against the boys. She might not yet possess the ability of Pabbles, but she certainty mirrors her in size.

She will be taking on She A Tiger and 8 others in the Eight Belles off an AwlOC victory over 8.5F. It was her first time stretching out and she was very professional. She covers ground with energy efficient strides and appears to be a very classy filly.

It is unlikely she will be amongst the favorites in the Eight Belles and must be an excellent longshot. Obviously, it is hoped she can transfer her OP form to CD.

30 Apr 2014 8:56 AM
Monarchos Matt

Calico Cat,

True enough, although you can always hedge with a low priced favorite to scratch your main bet, while still playing to make a bigger score with a higher price where you have an angle. The big money still lies in beating a low priced favorite not for the heck of it, but when you feel they are beatable. And in the Derby, every horse is beatable.

30 Apr 2014 8:58 AM
Monarchos Matt


That sounds like a spectacular way to spend the best Saturday of the year. I'm only planning to play the Humana, CD Distaff Turf Mile, CD Stakes and Woodford before the big one (and at about a 50% total investment relative to my Derby bankroll), but I'll be interested to see how you play these races. I spent yesterday taking a hard look at the probables.

30 Apr 2014 9:07 AM

“Victor Espinosa on and Art Sherman were signing giveaway California Chrome posters!  It was California Chrome night at Los Al over the weekend on Saturday.”  

Folks, it appears the Kentucky Derby was contested in California and won by The California Comet before the scheduled 1st Saturday in May.  The madness has commenced!

To the fanatical supporters of The California Comet:

Don't count your chickens before they're hatched – translation:

You should not count on something before it happens.

You should not expect all of your hopes to be fulfilled.

30 Apr 2014 9:20 AM


I'm also getting the feeling that Medal Count might not be much of a longshot come post time. He might end up being like Paddy O'Prado in 2010, who was bet down to 12-1 after being 20-1 on the morning line.

Which post position are you hoping Samraat will draw?

30 Apr 2014 9:27 AM


Thanks for your thoughts on Candy Boy! It's nice to hear that he's in good shape heading into the Derby.

30 Apr 2014 9:33 AM


Rosalind has raced without Lasix on a number of occasions in the past, including her victory in the Ashland Stakes last time out. With her connections planning on racing her in Europe after the Oaks, perhaps they want to run her a few times without Lasix to make sure she can handle it all right.

30 Apr 2014 9:40 AM

Kingman the anti-post favorite for the Qipco 2,000 Guineas on Saturday was sired by Invincible Spirit a grandson of Danzig. On the same day, Wicked Strong sired by Hard Spun a son of Danzig will contest the Kentucky Derby. It could be a very good day for the tail descendants of Danzig.

The entered and probables comprising the possible 2,000 Guineas field amount to 17. Of the 17 an astonishing 14 were sired by tail descendants of Northern Dancer.

Of the 20 possible starters in the Kentucky Derby, 8 were sired by tail descendants of Northern Dancer.  Four were winners of 9F Derby preps.

It could be a very good day for the Northern Dancer's tail descendants on both sides of the pond.

30 Apr 2014 9:56 AM
Rusty Weisner


That's funny about the California Chrome posters.  You may be on to something there.

We can make Rosalind vs. Ria Antonia an ancillary wager for bragging rights.  They've got comparable odds.

I'd be curious what you think of Baffert's handling of the horse and whether she'll be sucking air again; this will be his second race with her, and, lo and behold, I see the blinkers.  I liked her last race, coming a bit wide to briefly threaten at the top of the stretch after Fashion Plate had it all her way.

30 Apr 2014 10:18 AM
Rusty Weisner


Paddy O'Prado's low odds were probably due to the sloppy track.

30 Apr 2014 10:21 AM


Who do you like in the 2,000 Guineas? I'm sure Kingman will prove tough to beat, but I've heard a lot of nice things about Australia, and while the one-mile distance might be a bit short for him, I think he will give a good account of himself.

In case anyone is interested, Outstrip and Giovanni Boldini -- the 1-2 finishers in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) -- are also in the race.

30 Apr 2014 10:34 AM

Rusty Weisner;

That's a good point about the slop having an impact on Paddy O'Prado's odds. Thanks for reminding me! I remember that Paddy O'Prado trained very well in the mud leading up to the Derby, so I guess when the rains came down, so too did his price. :)

What do you think Medal Count's post-time odds will be? I'm hoping he stays at 20-1 or higher, but I'm not sure that he will.

30 Apr 2014 10:45 AM
Forbidden Apple

Not only is Candy Boy a longshot play, he's my top pick! He had everything going against him in the S.A. Derby. The long layoff and running far to close to a hot pace on a speed favoring track did not help him. Now he ships to a closer friendly track, plenty of speed lined up, a 1 1/4 mile race, and he physically looks imposing at the moment. I can't wait to see him striding out down the lane on saturday. Toss him if you wish, but keep in mind that Sadler's main goal has always been winning the KY Derby.

Another longshot on my radar is Wildcat Red, even with a slow workout at Churchill. He's full of natural speed and he gets the return services of Luis Saez. Constitution was considered a freak by many handicappers. Wildcat Red ran eye to eye with him and only lost because of a horrible decision by John Velazquez. The rail was left wide open for a Pletcher runner to sweep on through. By far this little horse is the Rodney Dangerfield type, zero respect. I myself would not normally take a speed horse in a distance race, but this horse is a warrior and extremely sharp at the moment. Throw his pedigree out the window, he's a runner.

At first I was against the decision to run Dance With Fate in the KY Derby. Now it looks like he's taking to the surface and peaking at the right moment. This big beautiful colt will be running late, look out! If he runs poorly on the dirt, he can always go back to turf/poly with nothing lost. I'd like to see him point towards the July 5 Belmont Derby in NY.

KY Derby rankings:

1)Candy Boy 2)Wildcat Red 3)California Chrome 4)Dance With Fate 5)Hoppertunity 6)Wicked Strong 7)General A Rod 8)Danza

If Social Inclusion was entered, I'd have him in my top six. In my opinion he's better off pointing towards the Preakness. He was washed out and anxious before the Wood. With a little more maturity and seasoning I think he is a serious horse to consider in Grade I races.

I was surprised to read the latest news about Little Mike. Carlo Vaccarezza is correct, it is disgusting to think that Churchill Downs charges rent to backstretch workers. Even if they were new facilities, no rent should be charged. I know for a fact the the bathrooms and dorms are 100% filthy here in NY (Saratoga & Belmont). The question I have for Carlo and other trainers is, why do you pay your workers minimum wage in the year 2014? A true living wage is only provided for trainers, assistants, and riders. While grooms and hotwalkers work for peanuts.

30 Apr 2014 11:02 AM
Rusty Weisner


I think there's that, and that bettors think mud favors turfers.  My line on him would be like 30-1 to win, but odds are always out of whack -- I dunno? - 18-1? Commanding Curve, for example will probably not be more than 30-1 when he should be longer.  Harry's Holiday probably won't be longer than 50-1, when he should be twice that.  The odds are not strictly relevant for me, though, because I'm playing exotics.

30 Apr 2014 11:05 AM
Forbidden Apple

My upset pick in the KY Oaks is Rosalind at 8-1. I'm willing to take a chance with her on dirt. She is a serious win threat if the pace is swift enough.

30 Apr 2014 11:13 AM

Rusty : I wasn't questioning why you're changing your mind, I asked how do you keep track of it because it would drive me crazy trying to remember why I switched from one horse to the other.   With regards to WHY, I gotcha, it is hard and if you can get help from folks here, that's great.

Keelerman :  Initially, anything but 1-5 but I think he can still be effective depending on who draws beside him if he gets the 5 hole.   As I said, I'm hoping IH or WMA or DWF gets the 1 hole, they're closers and doesn't need to blast out of the gate.

Looking forward to the draw today.  Good luck with your horse' draws!

30 Apr 2014 11:15 AM
Rusty Weisner

As Steve Haskin says, "Here we go."

I'm handicapping Oaks day, starting with the 7th race, which starts the P5, which I don't think I can afford to play.

I'm looking at the 1,2,7,10,12.

I prefer the favorite, #2, to the second favorite for having simply run faster on the same day at the same distance with the same style at Keeneland, and having already raced well at 7f at CD.  The 7 is enigmatic, with good CD form and a long layoff with a trainer with a very small stable (he has zero listed races this year), something I like.  The 1,10,12 are 12-1,15-1,8-1.  The 1 I like least of these; she was thrown in over her head in the Honeybee and then had a race running evenly behind a lone leader in the slop I will discount.  The 10 at 15-1 is interesting, because she beat the 12 in an Indiana statebred stakes, and 12 went on to compete very respectably in two classy stakes.  

30 Apr 2014 11:22 AM
Rusty Weisner

Was it Brontexx who was asking whether John Sadler has ever won a graded stakes outside of California?

I hate Candy Boy and will dare him to beat me.  He barely beat Dublin Up, who actually WAS the hot pace.  And Candy Boy was on the Derby bubble going into the SA Derby; that may have been his best race.

30 Apr 2014 11:33 AM
Rusty Weisner


No offense taken.  It's getting less hard to keep track of as I sift it over in my mind.  The one bothering me most is Danza, though those posters Coldfacts mentioned are an ominous sign, too (and that's not entirely tongue-in-cheek).

I definitely get great tips here, and sometimes I'll get turned on to a race I haven't really been interested in.

Another thing about this blog is that all the talking I do serves as a surrogate for "action"; I just can't bet as much or as often as I'd like, or can afford.  So thanks to everyone for their forebearance!

30 Apr 2014 11:41 AM


Good luck with your horses' post draws as well!

30 Apr 2014 11:49 AM

Rusty Weisner;

I agree about the odds on Commanding Curve and Harry's Holiday. In my opinion, the 50-1 victory by Mine That Bird has really changed how the Kentucky Derby is bet, at least in the win pool. Looking over the result chart of the 2008 Kentucky Derby, I find it hard to believe that Wood Memorial winner Tale of Ekati was 37-1, and Illinois Derby winner Recapturetheglory was 49-1. You'd never get those prices on them today!

30 Apr 2014 11:55 AM

It was announced this morning that twenty-one horses have been entered in the Kentucky Derby, with Pablo Del Monte being the lone also-eligible. Big Bazinga, who had been considered for the Derby in recent days, was not entered and will instead start in the American Turf Stakes.

30 Apr 2014 11:58 AM


The unbeaten Kingman looks like another Frankel in the making. However, the likewise unbeaten Toormore looks like a monster. It appears Shifting Power is also unbeaten but appears not as classy as Kingman &  Toormore.

I believe Outstrip has the quickest acceleration in the field and being a light frame colt has less mass to move. His sire Exceed and Excel was a Champion Australasian Sprinter so he probably has an advantage in quickness department when it matters.

If the ground is firm and he is in a good position, I expect him to get first run on the top two and outkick them to the line. His Breeder Cup acceleration was breath taking and he must have gotten stronger over the winter.

30 Apr 2014 12:00 PM


Thanks for your thoughts on the 2,000 Guineas! Good luck with Outstrip!

30 Apr 2014 12:04 PM

It sounds like Social Inclusion will be entered in Saturday's one-mile Sir Bear Stakes at Gulfstream Park, which he will use as a prep for the Preakness Stakes. I'm pretty happy to hear this news, because the Sir Bear should give us a better feel for what kind of colt Social Inclusion is, and help us determine if he has a shot to take down the Derby winner at Pimlico.

30 Apr 2014 12:08 PM
Forbidden Apple

Keelerman, Thank you for the update on Social Inclusion and your speedy posts to this blog. What are your thoughts on Dance With Fate, positive or negative?

30 Apr 2014 12:28 PM

I have seen a lot of photos of California Chrome since his arrival at Churchill Downs. From the little knowledge I possess about conditioning the colt looks overstrained. His hind end looked very thin and his overall condition does not look great. I like to see more mass in the engine room.  

California Chrome does not look like a horse carrying the requisite condition to take on 10F in a 20 horse field at Churchill Downs against the best of his peers. I would be surprised if the colt I saw hits the board. Then again I wear glasses and by sight might just be very bad.

I am not bashing the colt. I am only specifying what I have observed and I could be totally wrong. Plese spare me the demonization.

30 Apr 2014 12:29 PM

I just saw California's Chrome 1st jog around the CD strip and the colt looked horrible. He looked stiff and his hind legs were very wide. Wide gate always indicates trouble. I hope it was the mud as that horse looks to have major problems.

30 Apr 2014 12:37 PM

Toolmore looks the real deal, my Epsom Derby horse this year. War Commmand is also very dangerous.

Would be nice to see Outstrip and Giovanni at Arlington, they can beat any thing on firm turf.

30 Apr 2014 12:39 PM
Rusty Weisner

In the Eight Belles, R8, I will probably single Fiftyshadesofgold.  She switched to this race out of the Oaks.  She not only finished second to Untapable in the FG Oaks, she beat Unbridled Forever, another Oaks horse.  I suppose by that logic She's a Tiger is the primary contender, but I prefer this year's proven form of Fiftyshadesofgold.

30 Apr 2014 12:40 PM
Rusty Weisner


The important thing is how he looks on the poster!

30 Apr 2014 12:43 PM

I just saw California's Chrome 1st jog around the CD strip and the colt looked horrible. He looked stiff and his hind legs were very wide. Wide gait always indicates trouble. I hope it was the mud as that horse appears to have major problems.

30 Apr 2014 12:46 PM
Rusty Weisner


I think you're psyching yourself up to go against a legitimate favorite and your eyes are playing tricks on you.

Actually, in all seriousness, I'll take you seriously on this, for what it's worth.  Let's see if other observers adduce evidence to back you up.

30 Apr 2014 12:51 PM

Forbidden Apple;

In general, I have always like Dance With Fate, but I don't think his trainer really wanted to run Dance With Fate in the Derby, and that has me worried. Not only does his trainer think Dance With Fate is better on synthetic and turf than on Polytrack, he also feels the colt does better with more rest between races.

Dance With Fate also reminds me a great deal of Java's War, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes last year. Like Dance With Fate, Java's War had run well over dirt in the past, finishing second to Verrazano in the Tampa Bay Derby, but seemed to be considerably better on synthetic and failed to replicate his Blue Grass form in the Derby. It wouldn't shock me if he runs a good race this Saturday, but I'm siding against him at the moment.

30 Apr 2014 12:59 PM

Coldfacts & Rusty Weisner;

I have also heard negative opinions of California Chrome's first gallop at Churchill Downs, but perhaps it was just the mud. In any case, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that California Chrome looks better tomorrow.

30 Apr 2014 1:05 PM

Rusty Weisner;

Dan Illman of reported earlier today on DRF Live that post position thirteen is 0-17 in nine furlong dirt races at Churchill Downs since 1991, and that posts 12 and outward are a combined 3-for-70. I still think Untapable can overcome it, but this definitely opens the door for the possibility of an upset.

30 Apr 2014 1:12 PM

Dance With Fate was sired by a tail descendant of Mr. Prospector. That is always a plus in TC races based on the 30 plus TC races won by horses sired by a tail descendant of Mr. Prospector.  

DWF’s sire Two Step Salsa is a grandson of Seeking The Gold. Surprisingly, Seeking The Gold who was produced from a Buckpasser mare sired only one winner of a TC i.e., Jazil. His tail descendants have not been very productive a sires. However, his European based grandson Dubawi is a very good sire. He is son of the great Dubai Millennium. Two Step Salsa previously owned by Godolphin could be another of Seeking The Gold's grandson with potential to a classic winning sire.

DWF,s dam hails from the very successful Turn-To broodmare line. The broodmare line has produce the like of I'll Have Another, Grindstone, Afleet Alex, Giacomo, Charismatic, Pine Bluff and Danzig Connection who all won TC races. Add the great Zenyatta to the list and the potency of the dam line need no advertisement.

Dance With Fate enters the Derby off back to back 9F preps and is the only contender with this type of resume. I am very high on Medal Count. DWF has defeated him in both their meetings i.e., BCJ & Bluegrass.  Medal Count has become buzz horse based on his work outs at CD. Using him as a measure, Dance With Fate must have an outstanding chance to wear the roses.

30 Apr 2014 1:17 PM

Rusty Weisner,

Regarding the Eight Belles, review the videos of the Shadwell Co., filly.

30 Apr 2014 1:20 PM
Rusty Weisner

R9:  This one seems wide open with six horses I could see winning, seven if I include the import.

But I find it hard to believe the 3, Granny Mc's Kitten, is 15-1; I'll try something with this one.  It's interesting that this is the only one who had a good race on the Keeneland surface.  Two of the main contenders here (Istanford, Resistivity) couldn't carry their speed at all in the Rosalind/Room Service Ashland, while another, Candy Kitten, didn't run at all there.

30 Apr 2014 1:23 PM
Rusty Weisner


Thanks.  The bloodhorse article on the Oaks draw mentions some recent successes of horses from the widest posts.  But, yeah, that confirms my sense that it's a liability that could be enough to hamper a 4-5 or 3-5 horse.

30 Apr 2014 1:33 PM
Rusty Weisner


I would consider your horse, Mufajaah, if I were going wide and trying to beat a favorite, but I like my pick, competitive at basically the highest level, while yours did nothing when she moved up to G3.

30 Apr 2014 1:40 PM
Rusty Weisner


No to Dance With Fate, and the horse won me a lot of money.  Look at the chart:  all of the leading finishers, except Pablo del Monte, were way off the pace.  It was just like Java's War's or Rosalind's race, and typical of Keeneland; the form cannot be replicated elsewhere.  I would almost prefer Pablo del Monte to these other two in the Derby.  

30 Apr 2014 1:51 PM

Rusty Weisner Keelerman do you believe Bafferts other one Chitu has the best figure on a new service that sells figures like the sheets not speed figures.The lower the figure the better the race.

30 Apr 2014 2:46 PM
El Kabong


I really liked Java last year, until he drew post 20 in the peanut butter, but he is different than DWF. DWF has much better internal speed and does not wait to make his move the way JW did. He also breaks much better. I have to admit, I have a little concern, but I consider myself a good judge of the Synthetic horses and defended Dullahan to the wire. Dullahan was unquestionably better on synthetic but was able to transfer his talent to Churchill and a good many do on this dirt surface for some reason. Medal and DWF will like CD and benefit from the added distance. DWF has quicker turn of foot than MC which is very useful in a crowded situation(see turn for home in Bluegrass where MC made his move first, but DWF waited, went outside and accelerated past MD after the turn). MC has unquestionable breeding for this distance, while DWF's has potential to go 10's  as Coldfacts did well to point out. For either one to get the win, they'll need a break. There speed is the issue but this is more of an endurance race. How much depends on the pace setters, but I really think these two will handle CD just fine.  I always try to remind myself when culling the herd for my tickets of something I have noticed over the years. Only only 5-6 horses will be within 8 lengths of the winner. 14-15 horses will be completely out of it. Not many will enjoy this distance. Some years it's worse than that. So, speed is important to determine who wins, distance is what separates them from the board.

30 Apr 2014 2:56 PM
Rusty Weisner


Nothing could sell me on Chitu.

30 Apr 2014 3:17 PM
Rusty Weisner

R10 Alysheba

Well, lookie here - it's WTC again.  Lukas was interviewed saying how sound he always is...jinx.  That plus he ran a slower figure and people disapprovingly noted his lugging out.

I'll try to beat him in horizontals.  I like Normandy Invasion, now at a better distance of 8.5f.  Maybe others, too.

30 Apr 2014 3:27 PM
Rusty Weisner

El Kabong,

That's true, I'd forgotten:  Java's War simply broke terribly.

I don't want to be hearing this.  I don't want to be agonizing over these two horses when I'd put them in their little boxes already.  There's something irrational over taking Medal Count and tossing Dance With Fate, especially when the latter has the better dirt form...Oh, brother.

30 Apr 2014 3:30 PM

El Kabong;

Great thoughts! I agree that Dance With Fate has much more tactical speed and versatility than Java's War, which he demonstrated while finishing second in last year's FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita. That extra speed and acceleration could indeed prove an asset in the Derby if he takes to the track.

Speaking of that, the surface change for Dance With Fate does concern me a bit, but as you pointed out, synthetic/turf horses have been faring well in the Derby in recent years, so perhaps he'll take to the track just as well as he did Keeneland. I'm more concerned because his trainer didn't initially want to run in the Derby, and was worried about the three-week turnaround.

You made a very interesting point about how relatively few horses finish up close to the Derby winner each year. The last two years have been great examples of that, with the top five finishers all closely bunched while well clear of the rest of the field. Have you settled on any definite "tosses" in handicapping this year's Derby field?

30 Apr 2014 3:42 PM


I guess I'm not too surprised that Chitu earned a strong figure, since the Beyer and Brisnet figures for his Sunland Derby victory were both very respectable. However, I am a bit surprised that Chitu earned the highest figure of all the Derby contenders. Thanks for sharing that!

30 Apr 2014 3:51 PM

Here are the entries for Saturday's Sir Bear Stakes at Gulfstream Park, which will feature Social Inclusion, East Hall, Little Daddy, and five other three-year-old colts:

30 Apr 2014 3:52 PM

Rusty Weisner;

If you want to try and beat Wise Dan in a Derby Day pick four, it looks like you may be helped by the post position draw. Wise Dan has landed post one in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic Stakes, with a surprisingly large field of nine rivals lined up to challenge him.

Here's the post draw:

1 Wise Dan

2 Bright Thought

3 Guys Reward

4 Admiral Kitten

5 Kaigun

6 Moro Tap

7 Boisterous

8 Finnegans Wake

9 Skyring

10 Seek Again

30 Apr 2014 3:56 PM
Monarchos Matt


The main rationality behind taking Medal Count over Dance With Fate is pedigree. Medal Count's Tomlinson Distance figure is top 2 in the field (332), and Dance With Fate is in the bottom 4 (247). Sure, Dance With Fate came flying home in the Blue Grass, but even assuming they take to the dirt equally, will he be able to make a similar move over a more sustained length of ground? The power of his closing move is likely to be watered down by the added ground, in my opinion. The opposite is true with Medal Count, who, for what it's worth, appears to have the far better dirt pedigree in addition to distance pedigree. Neither has really run well on dirt up to this point...

If you're looking for another angle, remember that Medal Count's Blue Grass was run off 8 days rest, so the quick turnaround may not bother him as much as Dance With Fate, whose connections are on the record as saying that they know their colt needs more time between races than this. But it's the Derby, so what the heck right?

30 Apr 2014 4:00 PM
Pedigree Ann

Many people liked Alydar better than Affirmed because he looked like a big macho man, while Affirmed was a smaller, more lightly-built horse with the beautiful Exclusive Native head. Same thing with Easy Goer and Sunday Silence - Easy Goer, big, muscle-bound bruiser; Sunday Silence, smaller, leaner and handier.

And those horses weren't little, like Northern Dancer; they were just average sized. Secretariat [and Forego] got people to thinking that a bigger horse has to be superior, but it's demonstrably not true. Lean muscles can be as strong for running as bulky muscles and better for some distances. (Ever seen a marathoner bulked up like a 100-dash runner?)

So do not prejudge a horse by his inches or his lack of same. By his bulk or lack thereof. Northern Dancer, who barely topped 15 hands, beat the nearly 17h Hill Rise on the square in the fastest Kentucky Derby up to that date. His legs weren't as long but they moved faster.

And PLEASE - this looking for patterns in outcomes by cherry-picking data is such a human failing, but totally useless. We are hard-wired to look for patterns in faces, in seasons, in how deer choose their feeding grounds, etc., that we have become experts in finding patterns were there are none. Just because an Arkansas-raced horse ran well in the Derby in x of n previous years, doesn't mean any of the Arkansas-raced horses will run well THIS year. A logical fallacy; these are independent events.

30 Apr 2014 4:02 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

That's good enough for me; I had thrown out Dance With Fate to begin with.  My original two reasons for keeping Medal Count were 1. presumed higher odds for having been beaten in the Bluegrass 2. Romans' significant success in the Derby of late.

30 Apr 2014 4:16 PM
El Kabong

Keelerman, I feel like I'm being used to let off fireworks but here it goes.

We Miss Artie    Will miss the rug.

Uncle Sigh, Sam    Loved the inner track at AQ. When they went to the real oval, they lost their advantage and I knew they would. Bad sign. No Soup For You!

Chitu    Only beats lesser. Foundation a bit light, and I didn't like Martin Garcia's reaction when he actually worked a real horse(Hopportunity-he got excited, too excited to remain hopeful about this guy)

Candy Boy   If his pedigree said more, I'd give him a chance. It doesn't,he won't improve.

Tapiture   Tapit's do there best work at 9F, he didn't over impress me there, why would I trust him at 10F?

Vince, Harry  Love the names, make a movie or open a pizza joint but please, pretty please, stay out of the way of my closers.

30 Apr 2014 4:25 PM
El Kabong


Well said about the Bluegrass Boys. Agree. And yes, the 8 day is reason for a less than full account of himself in that race. I loved the Dale Romans interview. Struck a nerve!

30 Apr 2014 4:29 PM
Monarchos Matt

Pedigree Ann makes a good point here about recognizing events and trends that are mutually exclusive to one another, versus recognizing hard data and angles that are proven over time to have predictive ability.

Actually, I'm not sure if she was really a proponent of the second part of that sentence, but I stand by certain parameters that seem to be successful data-driven measures that can be applied year after year to eliminate runners and include others with a high success rate. I've already written at length about the historical significance of the Tomlinson distance figures in terms of quantifying pedigree, as well as the :38 second cut off time for the final 3/8 split of the final preps. But when it comes to comparing past circuits of runners to this year's, I agree that this is where the idea of mutual exclusivity needs to be recognized.

I am sure there are many, many other examples of confusing patterns with actual statistical significance.

30 Apr 2014 4:30 PM
Rusty Weisner

El Kabong,

I agree with every single one of those tosses (see above).  Soup for you.

30 Apr 2014 4:32 PM

Drumroll...the post positions for the Derby have been drawn!

Here they are:

1 Vicar's in Trouble

2 Harry's Holiday

3 Uncle Sigh

4 Danza

5 California Chrome

6 Samraat

7 We Miss Artie

8 General a Rod

9 Vinceremos

10 Wildcat Red

11 Hoppertunity

12 Dance With Fate

13 Chitu

14 Medal Count

15 Tapiture

16 Intense Holiday

17 Commanding Curve

18 Candy Boy

19 Ride On Curlin

20 Wicked Strong

It looks like Calvin Borel might have a bit of trouble guiding Ride On Curlin to the inside. Believe it or not, this is the first time since 2009 that Borel's mount has drawn a post position farther outside than gate four!

30 Apr 2014 5:46 PM

Kentucky Derby Post positions.

California Chrome 5 5/2

Candy Boy 18 20-1

Chitu 13 20-1

Commanding Curve 17 50-1

Dance With Fate 12 20-1

Danza 4 10-1

General A Rod 8 15-1

Harry's Holiday 2 50-1

Hoppertunity 11 6-1

Intense Holiday 16 12-1

Medal Count 14 20-1

Ride On Curlin 19 15-1

Samraat 6 15-1

Tapiture 15 15-1

Uncle Sigh 3 30-1

Vicar's In Trouble 1 30-1

Vinceremos 9 30-1

We Miss Artie 7 50-1

Wicked Strong 20 8-1

Wildcat Red 10 15-1

Pablo Del Monte A.E. 50-1

30 Apr 2014 6:00 PM

Here are a few of my preliminary thoughts on the post draw:

* California Chrome may have a bit of trouble securing good early position from post five, since he'll have speed horses both to his inside (Vicar's in Trouble, Uncle Sigh) and outside (Wildcat Red, Chitu.) I can envision a scenario where he gets caught awkwardly in the middle of a five-horse run for the early lead.

* I could not have been happier with post eleven for Hoppertunity. That draw seems pretty much perfect to me. I was also very pleased to see Medal Count in gate fourteen, which is one of the post positions that Robby Albarado and Dale Romans were hoping for.

* Candy Boy, Ride On Curlin, and Wicked Strong all drew a bit wide in gates eighteen, nineteen, and twenty. For the latter two, it shouldn't matter too much, since I expect them to be well off the early pace. But Candy Boy may have a bit of trouble working his way inward from gate eighteen, especially if Gary Stevens and John Sadler want to position the colt in mid-pack.

* The plan may have been to try and rate Vicar's in Trouble just off the lead, but now that the colt has drawn post one, I think he has to be sent hard early to try and avoid getting boxed along the rail and shuffled back.

JayJay, it looks like you got your wish with Samraat, although just barely! :)

30 Apr 2014 6:05 PM


Thanks for posting the morning line odds! I like the look of 20-1 on Medal Count and Candy Boy, but I'm very surprised to see Tapiture at 15-1. I would have thought that he would be higher -- at least 20-1, if not 30-1.

30 Apr 2014 6:10 PM


Mike Battaglia adjusted some of the morning line odds up or down after the post positions were drawn.

30 Apr 2014 6:24 PM

I think WildCat Red is this year's Musket Man.  He slugs it out each race and won't get much play or respect.  

CC, once again not a very big colt.  But then again neither was Winning Colors!  I think he is going to have to do the same "come and catch" me as the filly did to have any shot.  

Comming out of the 5 hole he certainly won't have any excuses.  

30 Apr 2014 6:25 PM

Vicar's in Trouble is right.  And thanks for playing Wicked Strong.  Hoppertunity just improved by 5 lengths.

30 Apr 2014 6:31 PM
Rusty Weisner


As you can see, they make the ceiling 50-1.  Which is actually reflective of post-time Derby odds.

30 Apr 2014 7:04 PM
Rusty Weisner

I'm relieved Hoppertunity is 11.  I'm also glad, I suppose, that three of my tosses are in the 1-2-3 hole.  I can now safely put any thoughts of VIT or Uncle Sigh to rest.  

The problem for CC is if he doesn't break well.  That'll be problem.  Union Rags had the 4 and when he didn't break nice Leparoux notoriously made the wrong decision and let him get folded into the batter.

I don't know what to make of Wicked Strong's outside post.  Last year the awful-breaking and one-dimensional Java's War had the 19 or 20 (Vyjack was the other) and it was almost comical to see him dash almost perpendicular for the rail.  Wicked Strong is not one dimensional; he was not that far off in the Wood; I think he can make good position.  Thing is, I was a little iffy about him as a "prime" pick already, and just the little bit of added ground is enough to amplify my reservations.

30 Apr 2014 7:11 PM
Rusty Weisner

Re: Vicar's in Trouble.  Remember ArchArchArch?  Let's hope for a safe trip for this horse, even if we don't hope he holds on for a piece.

30 Apr 2014 7:12 PM
Rusty Weisner

I don't care if it's the 1 hole, 30-1 on both VIT and Vinceremos is too much disrespect for the former for even me to stomach.

I don't like the 4 for Danza.  I don't care if he was on the rail.  With the four his jockey has one of two risky decisions to make.  That seals it for me:  he's not in the prime slot.  I think his post is worse than Wicked Strong's.

30 Apr 2014 7:16 PM
Rusty Weisner


I think this post may be a liability for ROC/Borel. But it's hard to gauge; he had Revolutionary from the 17 and he finished third with him.

30 Apr 2014 7:28 PM
Rusty Weisner


I'm remembering your comments about Victor Espinoza and War Emblem if CC has a bad start.  I was there at the 2002 Belmont.  That was quite a roar when Espinoza desperately hustled him back into contention, but anyone betting knew it was over.

30 Apr 2014 7:36 PM

Keelerman : YES!  And I'm quite happy that Chrome is to his inside, Samraat will draft behind him going into the first turn.   Vicar's really in Trouble from that 1 post, it's all but ensured now that Rosie will try to gun ViT out of there as soon as the gate opens.   I also like the fact that WMA is to the outside of Samraat.   If Samraat is good enough, there should not be any excuse whatsoever and I'm feeling quite confident.  

It's another joke from the racing gods that the TWO speedsters in the race got the bookends.  I hope that's all there is from them and all that's left is a safe, competitive race.

I think this year's derby is the most evenly matched field, on paper Chrome is a standout but anyone of these horses are very very much capable of putting a good run and winning.

I'm pretty happy with everyone's post position, the first 10 seconds of the race will be very exciting going into the first turn....good luck following your horse

30 Apr 2014 11:43 PM
El Kabong


Jerry Bailey claimed VIT was in trouble after the draw.When asked about that, Rosie without hesitation said, "Not Yet!" I love that. She shoved right back in his saddle. lol!

01 May 2014 12:01 AM
El Kabong

Post 20! I can't believe it, I'm almost turning into Draynay with my sentimental ponies(Java's War also had post 20). Oh well, it's a bit farther but it won't DQ him. Still, I would have preferred the one hole for Wicked Strong. Dag nabbit! Is it me or is Asher out to kibosh my picks? Biggest news is the speed drawing so much rail. I'll have the night to think this over but it's going to be dicey down there. Someone will lose right away if one of them doesn't behave. Medal Count drew very well so Roman's still has luck on his side. It may be his year and that is my favorite #. Intense Holiday has Johnny V and post 16. Omen? Chrome drew the best with Sam and Artie to his right. He'll get what he wants if he doesn't hesitate the start. The boys to his right aren't going to close the gap on him.

01 May 2014 12:18 AM

Two California based horses are 1-2 morning line favorites.  That's kind of funny.  I took another look at Hopp's Oaklawn score.  Like the late run in the stretch, a stretch much like Churchill.  I like Stevens on Candy Boy.  That guy is a maniac!  Knows the big races well.

01 May 2014 2:15 AM
Rusty Weisner

Delightful weather.  A possible stray shower for the Oaks, little to no chance of rain on Derby day.  

01 May 2014 7:27 AM
Rusty Weisner


I thought the Oaklawn stretch was supposed to be "short", but it turns out it's not one of the shortest for the major tracks.

The numbers I see are:

Gulfstream: 898 (shortest)

Santa Anita: 990

Oaklawn: 1155

Churchill Downs: 1234

Fair Grounds: 1346 (longest)

01 May 2014 7:41 AM

It was reported this morning that Hoppertunity did not head out for morning training, and that Bob Baffert will be holding a press conference in a little while. This does not sound good... :(

01 May 2014 9:09 AM

Like the draw for Danza and IH, CC at 5 is fine by me, I will spread around now I think he is beatable on the inside.

Hopper scratched.....what gate does Pablo get ?

01 May 2014 9:09 AM
Monarchos Matt

Rumors rampant that Hoppertunity will be scratched. After drawing perfectly, I had settled on him as my win pick and primary key. Back to the drawing board, ugh.

01 May 2014 9:14 AM

Ward does not like PP 20, so prob will not run.

01 May 2014 9:22 AM

It has been confirmed that Hoppertunity has scratched from the Derby with a foot issue. Thus, all of the horses outside of him will move inward one slot (including Medal Count from post fourteen to thirteen, which is surely a bit of a disappointment for Romans and Albarado), while Pable Del Monte draws in as number twenty. However, it sounds like trainer Wesley Ward isn't certain he wants to run Pablo Del Monte from gate twenty, so it's possible that we will end up with a nineteen-horse field.

01 May 2014 9:29 AM

I think 4 makes it just a little harder for Chrome, back to drawing board.

Speed Inside, all closers on the outside, will be watching how the track plays on Friday and Saturday early.

01 May 2014 10:10 AM
Rusty Weisner

I was set on building all my bets around Hoppertunity/California Chrome. I felt they went together like peanut butter and jelly.  I jumped out of my seat when I read the news.

No idea what I'll do now.  I may build some much more modest bets around a horse I've been fond of, Intense Holiday, and go more aggressively against some of the ones I was iffy about.  I'm inclined to disfavor Wicked Strong and prefer IH.  

Everyone keep an ear out for any rumors about CC.

01 May 2014 10:39 AM
Rusty Weisner

Handicapping the Derby is fun.  Now I get to do it twice.  

I could still try a superfecta, a much less expensive one:  CC over IH, with two or three other favored closers and the remainder of my horses.  That would be about $100-150.  Then I could have some CC/IH trifectas, then lastly, some IH trifectas.  Maybe just WPS on IH!  

I don't know how strongly I feel about IH, though; I really don't like him to win.  A soft spot for him is not enough; may depend on the odds.

Whatever the case, I feel like it's no enchilada this year.

01 May 2014 10:54 AM
Monarchos Matt


Why are you against Wicked Strong? The post should be of very little concern, it will force him to run the type of race that I wanted him to run anyway. (Same can be said for ROC). Him vs Hopp was a coin flip for me before the post draw, and I had given Hopp the narrow edge based upon that, more so because I thought Hopp drew perfectly than that WS drew poorly. But now, he seems the primary contender to take down the favorite on many angles. I'm working on re-building tickets accordingly, perhaps using CC and ROC on top on small hedges, but for the most part, I'm now all in on Wicked Strong.

01 May 2014 11:13 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I don't know.  I'm in a state of stunned apathy and suggestible to anything.  Sure, I like Wicked Strong enough to figure on my tickets.  I'll look at the rest of the card and sleep on the Derby.

01 May 2014 11:18 AM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I made the same comment up above:  the post wasn't bothering me a lot for him.  I feel like inside posts are the only liabilities.

01 May 2014 11:19 AM
Monarchos Matt

Top 3 Tomlinsons:

1) Medal Count 332

2) Wicked Strong 330

3) Chitu 311

Top 3 Beyers at 9f:

1) CC 107

2) Wicked Strong 104

3) Danza 102

Top 3 1/8 Come Home (real dirt)

1) Danza :12.30

2) CC :12.49

3) Wicked Strong :12.52

Top 3 3/8 Come Home Time (real dirt)

1) CC :36.65

2) Danza :37.09

3) Wicked Strong :37.37

Which is the only horse in the Top 3 field-wide in all these categories?

01 May 2014 11:23 AM

Rusty Weisner & Monarchos Matt;

I feel the same way. I was very confident that either California Chrome or Hoppertunity would win the Derby, and I thought there was a terrific chance that they would run 1-2. Now I'm not sure what to do. I'll be sharing my revised selections in a new blog post later this afternoon, but first, I have to determine who my revised selections are...

01 May 2014 11:26 AM

Following the scratch of Hoppertunity, Mike Battaglia has revised the morning line odds for the Derby. Here are the updated odds:

1. Vicar’s in Trouble 20-1

2. Harry’s Holiday 50-1

3. Uncle Sigh 30-1

4. Danza 8-1

5. California Chrome 5-2

6. Samraat 15-1

7. We Miss Artie 50-1

8. General a Rod 15-1

9. Vinceremos 50-1

10. Wildcat Red 15-1

11. Dance With Fate 20-1

12. Chitu 20-1

13. Medal Count 20-1

14. Tapiture 12-1

15. Intense Holiday 8-1

16. Commanding Curve 50-1

17. Candy Boy 15-1

18. Ride On Curlin 15-1

19. Wicked Strong 6-1

20. Pablo Del Monte 50-1

01 May 2014 11:32 AM

Monarchos Matt

What’s the Tomlinson rating for Vineremos?

01 May 2014 11:41 AM

Rusty Weisner,

Kindly take no offense as it seems I have perfected the art of offending others.

Why were you so high on Hopportunity?  He won a MSW race over a very weak group. He finished a none threatening 4th in the Risen Star. He won the Rebel by a NS and was blown away in the SA Derby.

CC has separated himself from the class of 2014. However, Opportunity record certainly did not make him 2nd best. He had to leave CA to win a graded stakes. His sire Any Given Saturday was never as good as Curlin and Hard Spun and they have two colts in the field with better credentials than Opportunity.

He is big far striding colt but he is not explosive. Did you see how Wicked exploded in the last 1/2F of the Wood. Have you seen any such explosiveness from Hopportunity? Ride On Curlin in the only horse in the field that set a NTR and he closed like a runaway train in the Champagne. What’s Hopportunity’s claim to 12nd best?

01 May 2014 11:55 AM
Monarchos Matt


"Stunned apathy", haha, I like that, well put.


Vinceremos is actually also a 311, which is tied for 3rd and an omission on my part. Good catch!

01 May 2014 12:08 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

Wicked Strong is better on paper than Intense Holiday, no question about it - he's even beaten him head-to-head.  I think one or both are going to hit the board. CC is a legitimate favorite.  That should be enough to build on.

01 May 2014 12:10 PM
Rusty Weisner


You mention ROC.  Hoppertunity beat him.  He ran back, figure-wise, to his breakout effort in the Arkansas Derby in the Santa Anita Derby in which was vastly second best and just following CC for practice for the Derby.  The upward trajectory of his career suggested a Derby victor to me, and he wasn't the favorite, so I had less reservations about being wrong with him.

01 May 2014 12:14 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Ward's decision to go or not go is a very important one in this race.

01 May 2014 12:22 PM

Plod Boy Phil;

Welcome back! I agree that the presence or absence of Pablo Del Monte could have a major impact on the Derby, and not just from an early pace perspective. I have to admit that I think he has an outside chance at hitting the board. Do you like his chances?

01 May 2014 12:28 PM

Monarchos Matt,

Will ROC weight going from 118 to 126 in the derby trouble you. The other contenders carried 122 in their last preps. 4lbs could make a difference in the last 1/8 of a mile

01 May 2014 12:38 PM

Monarchos Matt,

Many Thanks.

Vinceremos is my #1 longshot. If there is an upset in the Derby I think he will be the one. He has an affinity to leave the gates sharply and I expect him to get into a good position early.

He has tactical speed powered by energy efficient strides and a cool demeanor. He give the impression that when all hell breaks loose when the gates open he will be unperturbed.

I think 10F will be ideal for him to capitalize on the expected crazy speed. He has been totally dismissed by all and sundry. This is the only colt that has banged into the rail twice and almost came to a halt and had the competitiveness to recover to score fighting victories.

He is also part of Unbridled's Dynasty

01 May 2014 1:06 PM


With Hopportunity out your exclusive #1 is California Chrome. I see one path to victory for The California Comet. Break sharply, secure a good position and kick for home at the appropriate time.

No horse has joined CC in the last furlong in his last 4 starts. That will change in the Derby. How do project he will handle Wicked Strong after dealing the with 5 possible speed horses and Danza and Tipiture from the intermediate group?

01 May 2014 1:15 PM
Rusty Weisner

Plod Boy Phil,

Should I find something sinister in your sudden reappearance at the moment of Hoppertunity's scratch?

01 May 2014 1:30 PM
Rusty Weisner

Keelerman, Plod Boy Phil --

I will take Pablo del Monte to hit the board at 50-1 (or more) with no qualms whatsoever.  He stuck out like a sore thumb in the Bluegrass.

01 May 2014 1:35 PM
Monarchos Matt


That's a very good point you bring up. I generally do not pay too much attention to weight changes, but can certainly see the angle in how that could have impact over a race of this distance. I suppose I would be more concerned if I thought ROC would somehow be forced to go too early, but his wide post essentially assures that he'll have to drop back early as he should, and I expect him to have plenty left in the tank irrespective of the added weight.

01 May 2014 1:39 PM
Monarchos Matt


My main problem with Vinceremos is that he just hasn't shown the pure speed to contend with these. With a career high lifetime Beyer of only 88 (bottom 3 in the field), he would need to improve massively to hit the board. But, crazier things have happened in this race. MTB winning the race with even worse speed figs was crazier. And we've probably seen crazier 4th place finishers as well based on pedigree (Went the Day Well?) This is exactly why I avoid the super. Getting the first three right is hard enough, and while I won't talk you out of Vinceremos, I like others better in that spot. Good luck!

01 May 2014 1:46 PM
Monarchos Matt


I'm currently working on two trifecta tickets. A wide one with Wicked Strong keyed on top, and a narrower one with CC and ROC on top.

Not planning to bet the Oaks card but was hoping to get some work done on Saturday's undercard by now. That hasn't happened...

01 May 2014 1:52 PM
Plod Boy Phil

Rusty -

Nothing sinister.  I looked at the PPs this morning for the first time since any of them last raced.  Needed Derby Grades for the Oaks Day Report.

01 May 2014 2:33 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I made some notes about R7-11 on the Oaks card.  Keelerman is my lucky charm, so I think I will play vertical exotics in the Oaks the way I described them in my little exchange with him.  I like Fiftyshadesofgold as a single in the Eight Belles, Normandy Invasion in the Alysheba, Untapable/Ria Antonia in the Oaks.  I can work out some P4 tickets with all that.  I'll also play verticals in R7, and maybe even a P5 with singles of both Fiftyshadesofgold and Normandy Invasion.  But I have to look it all over again.

I've looked at the Saturday card.  Right now I like a couple horses in the first two races.  The 6 in R1, Prosecution, closed a lot of ground despite running very wide in the slop. There are a couple other contenders at lower odds and some 3-yos.  The 6 in R2 beat Commanding Curve & Thundergram in his maiden last fall at CD and it's his first race as a 3yo.  All the races till R7 (start of P5) are a muddle to me.

I like the favorite, Judy the Beauty, in R7. She could be my kamikaze single in a P5 if I can narrow it down; I might try her on the front end and CC on the tail end of a P5; I would then have a realistic chance of having CC covered in the Derby.

R8 I like Storming Inti best.  

R9 is really good, the 7f Churchill Downs.  I like Sahara sky best, but will probably have a ticket where a give a few others, even Capo Bastone, a chance.

There are three G1 winners in the Woodford running against Wise Dan.  I will give them all a chance, plus Skyring, who is always eerily popping up when I play, and the one who tried to catch Wise Dan last out at 37-1.  It wasn't as close as the chart made it sound, but the horse seems to have made a great improvement as a 4-yo.  

01 May 2014 2:46 PM
Plod Boy Phil

KJ -

Concur, concur.

He's one of two for us.

01 May 2014 2:47 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

A yearly tradition for me (not really a good sign) is to try to find a single in the last race, R13, to play the late, late P4 (I hit this P4 the Big Brown year and narrowly missed it in IHA's).  There's a Baffert horse, Party Time, that looks the part; ran competitively with the decent Dublin Up, who, I might remind others, was barely beaten by Candy Boy despite being used up on the lead.

01 May 2014 3:18 PM
Rusty Weisner

Monarchos Matt,

I like to play the Oaks just to see how the track is playing.  And because I like an excuse to bet on horses.

01 May 2014 3:25 PM
Rusty Weisner

The Churchill Downs, R9, is much improved this year.  It has the tenor of a G1 race, while last year's was like a G3, and in slop, to boot.  

01 May 2014 3:37 PM

I hate to be the one to break more bad news, but Normandy Invasion has scratched from the Alysheba Stakes with a quarter crack. It is hoped that he will be back in time to make the Metropolitan Handicap on Belmont day.

01 May 2014 3:50 PM


That's a good point about Ride On Curlin picking up eight pounds; I hadn't noticed that before. I agree with Monarchos Matt that it probably won't have too much of an impact on his chances, since he'll likely be coming from well behind, but I now see that Danza will be picking up the same amount of weight. As a runner with more tactical speed, it might affect him more than Ride On Curlin. Thanks for pointing it out!

01 May 2014 3:55 PM

Rusty Weisner;

I agree, the Churchill Downs Stakes has drawn a fantastic field this year. Sahara Sky does look tough to beat, but I think Clearly Now and Delaunay have respectable chances. The latter is 4-for-4 at Churchill Downs and was compromised last time out by a severe rail bias at Fair Grounds, so things should shape up better for him on Saturday.

01 May 2014 4:03 PM
Rusty Weisner


I don't like Delaunay.  The only graded stakes he's won was precisely that weak edition of this one last year, in slop. I like Clearly Now second.  I particularly like these two because they both seem to have the excuse of having got caught flat footed in the Carter.  As to why Shakin' It Up is ML favorite, I'm baffled...oh, Baffert.  

Some others, I guess, have a chance, but I should probably suck it up and single Sahara Sky.

01 May 2014 4:20 PM
Rusty Weisner

I just watched Clearly Now's Cigar Mile and that was quite a stumble.  Clearly now was one of the best here against older.  Definitely Sahara Sky/Clearly Now.

01 May 2014 4:23 PM
Plod Boy Phil

She's a Tiger rates bold upgrade status on Friday. Easily the best 2yo paper we've ever seen with four 'vs Zip' upgrades in races that strongly favored closers,  including one Xtreme.  Her last three 'wins' came despite Flows that will far more often than not be won by stalker/closers. Her big year starts now.

01 May 2014 4:27 PM

Monarchos Matt,

Will ROC weight going from 118 to 126 in the derby trouble you. The other contenders carried 122 in their last preps. 4lbs could make a difference in the last 1/8 of a mile

01 May 2014 4:51 PM

If the track is dry, I go with Danza in the Kentucky Derby.

If the track is soft or good at Newmarket, I go with Kingston Hill in the 2000 Guineas. I went to his wedding, so I have something to spend on his funeral.

01 May 2014 6:01 PM

According to my watch, it is exactly forty-eight hours until post time for the Kentucky Derby. It's decision-making time!

Here's the link to my latest blog post, with my selections for the Kentucky Derby:

01 May 2014 6:24 PM

I am opening nominations for wise guy horse I nominate Medal Count who will run his 3rd race in 30 days anyone second the nomination or want to nominate another colt,be my guest.

01 May 2014 7:37 PM
El Kabong


Good luck to you today. Thanks for the fun blog. looking forward to  more of your columns. I posted my picks on steve's sight if you or anyone else want to read. Good luck again I'm off to the track.

03 May 2014 10:24 AM

Good luck, El Kabong! I'll be sure to check out your selections! Have fun at the track!

03 May 2014 6:59 PM
El Kabong


Thanks. It is no point of pride, but I place all my bets online. I Went out to my local track and decided to play my back up ticket there. Chrome with a shot, with my logical horses finishing 3rd and 4th. My ace in the hole. I picked Dance With Fate and Commanding Curve as my shots. I had Danza 3rd, and a slew of horses 4th. 4 8 12 14 16 18 19 and 20. No one was sure of 4th. I had to wait, watching on tv from home. Wicked got 4th. My back up hit. No pride other than I had to play a ticket with the monster getting his race with a shot. It worked out. I'm going back to Emerald Downs tomorrow to cash. Not because I handicapped it right, but because I know you can't always be right and I play a ticket that reflects that. Luck. That's all. But you have to play a ticket every year that defies logic. The Derby always humbles a know it all, and I accept that.

03 May 2014 9:58 PM

Congratulations, El Kabong!! That was fantastic score!! Great job!!

04 May 2014 11:52 AM

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