I’ve compared this year’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands to two things: a roulette wheel and the NCAA men’s basketball championship tournament.
A roulette wheel because most horses can win (i.e. have some chance of winning), and it’s up to the handicapper to determine which odds are better than the horse’s chance of winning. That doesn’t work in roulette where you get 35-to-1 no matter which number comes up but does in racing where you can get 15-to-1 on a horse who should be 10-to-1.
That horse for me is #19 Ride On Curlin, who in addition to helping my roulette analogy is also the reason I’m comparing this year’s Derby to March Madness.
I liken Ride On Curlin’s Triple Crown trail to this past season’s University of Kentucky basketball team: Well-regarded early (jockey Calvin Borel said last summer that this was his Derby horse) then kind of sputtered before finding his best stride in the Derby version of the tournament’s early rounds: the TwinSpires.com Kentucky Derby Championship Series (i.e. the points races).
Ride On Curlin’s second-place finish in the Arkansas Derby behind legit Derby threat Danza has him ready for another step forward in the Kentucky Derby—a step that UK took in this year’s tournament to validate its early season ranking.
I’ll stick with the Arkansas Derby as a key race and use #4 Danza liberally as well with #1 Vicar’s In Trouble and #6 Samraat rounding out my “A” selections.
On the opposite end, these are the most “X” horses I can ever remember having for the Derby, but I’d rather focus on the horses I think have a good chance rather than those that have little chance.
Speaking of that, make sure to play our Derby Eliminator game. Tell us who won’t hit the board for a chance at a $500 first prize!
And if you need some help playing along throughout the day, my ABC grid for all 13 races is below: