05/05/2012 11:28 AM
Kentucky Derby Breakdown
May 4, 2012
I can't remember a more wide open Derby. I wouldn't be surprised if any one of 10 horses won this year's "Run for the Roses."
The preps have been run, the works are done and now it's time to get it on. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the field for Kentucky Derby 138!!!
PP - Horse ML Odds Jockey (Derby Record) Owner (Derby Record)
1 - Daddy Long Legs 30/1 Colm O'Donoghue (Debut) Aidan O'Brien (0-3)
Notes: These connections almost pulled it off last year with Master of Hounds who finished a game fifth under Garrett Gomez. They're bringing their own boy over this time but Colm won several big ones in the States last year. He won the G2 UAE Derby fairly impressively over the synthetic in Dubai last out going 1 3/16 miles so he'll only have to navigate through an extra sixteenth of a mile. Still, he didn't get to Churchill until this past Tuesday and hasn't done any serious training over the track. Plus, his try in the G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile was abysmal last year. He'll take some money because he's somewhat of an unknown but he's not for me.
2 - Optimizer 50/1 Jon Court (0-1) D. Wayne Lukas (4-44)
Notes: I look at his form and I wonder what goes through the heads of some people. And don't forget that Lukas is a Hall of Famer and pioneer!! Three of his former assistants are here which means he obviously knew what he was doing at some point. He's still capable just not with this horse who is eligible for an entry level allowance contest. Complete toss out.
3 - Take Charge Indy 15/1 Calvin Borel (3-9) Pat Byrne (Debut)
Notes: Byrne, not necessarily by design, took the Barbaro path to the Derby with this colt this year. After running just once back in late January and scratching out of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby, he didn't run again until winning the G1 Florida Derby in stunning gate-to-wire fashion. Impeccably bred sophomore got a great draw too as he should be able to save ground all the way under Borel behind a probable sharp early pace. Wouldn't be too surprised if he's in front at some point I'm just not completely sold it will be at the wire. He'll take plenty of action because of his jock. He can definitely win this and is on the cusp between my top and second tier prospects.
4 - Union Rags 9/2 Julien Leparoux (0-5) Mike Matz (1-2)
Notes: Two months ago, he was a strong Derby favorite and plenty were already talking about how we might have a Triple Crown winner on our hands. The Florida Derby day came. He acted up back at the barn, needed to be re-shod before the race, got hot in the post parade then had an absolute nightmare of a trip. Most horses would have called it a day but this guy still managed to get third, beaten less than two lengths and finished up impressively, leaving little doubt that the extra furlong shouldn't be an issue. His pre-race antics however are another story. If he's getting all crazy on a regular race day, what's going to happen in front of 150,000 fans on Saturday? And, in all honesty, the GREAT ones find a way to win. He didn't in the Florida Derby and he didn't in the Juvenile over this track last year when he couldn't cut Hansen down. At the end of the day I still think he has what it takes to win this and he's in my top tier of prospects.
5 - Dullahan 8/1 Kent Desormeaux (3-17) Dale Romans (0-3)
Notes: This guy has given me fits. I wish he could have just made my life easier and not one the G1 Blue Grass, but nooooooooo, he has to come charging down the center of the course like a freight train. He did the same thing in the G1 Breeders' Futurity last year over the same Polytrack at Keeneland that he won over last out which makes it easy to believe he's just better on synthetics than other surfaces. I'm not sold on that theory as his Juvenile run last year was solid, a fourth place finish after getting slammed at the start and his other two dirt starts came in sprints. If you're like me and believe this horse wants to go nine miles it's easy to excuse two subpar sprint efforts. Desormeaux has won three of these, he'll have plenty of pace to close into and is making his third start off the layoff. Combine that with his pedigree and I'm willing to take my chances on him. A top tier prospect, for sure.
6 - Bodemeister 4/1 Mike Smith (1-18) Bob Baffert (3-21)
Notes: By the time 2012 comes to an end there's a good chance they'll be erecting statues of this colt. When he's running, the only word that comes to my mind is "freak." He's what this sport is all about; what people strive for their horses to be. When writers wax poetic, it's Bodemeister whom they have in mind. I know someone probably said the same thing about Pulpit or Curlin during their meteoric rises in 1998 and 2007 but you get the sense it's different this time. His effort in the G1 Arkansas Derby was astonishing. Yeah, I know no horse has won the Derby with racing as a juvenile since Apollo in 1882, but you know what, who cares? These rules and jinxes will all be broken someday. He just may be the one to do it. He has plenty of tactical speed, is bred to run all day and has Baffert cinching the saddle on his back. I'd say his chances are better than most, just be prepared to be betting on the favorite. An obvious top tier prospect.
7 - Rousing Sermon 50/1 Jose Lezcano (0-3) Jerry Hollendorfer (0-4)
Notes: One of the things I look for when I handicap a race, especially a race like the Derby, is for a horse that's closing ground at the end of his races. This colt has run nine times and was gaining ground at the end of eight of them. He's slower than most in here but the extra eighth of a mile could prove to be his biggest weapon. Would need things to go absolutely perfectly for him to win but I wouldn't be stunned. And he's a Bob Barker special because the price will certainly be right. He's one of my two live longshots.
8 - Creative Cause 12/1 Joel Rosario (0-2) Mike Harrington (Debut)
Notes: Through his first eight races, he's won four times while placing second twice and third twice. He's been beaten a combined three lengths and a nose in his four defeats and has amassed $869K. You know what the scary thing is? He hasn't even figured it all out yet. That proverbial light bulb will likely go on in his head one day and when it does it could be lights out or the rest. But right now he lacks that knockout punch. I'm not a big fan of his trainer, a former vet and I think that has a lot to do with his lack of professionalism. If this guy was in a top barn the sky would be the limit. It could still be and he has one of the best riders in the country on his back. In a 20 horse field though his lack of focus will probably cost him in the end and there have been rumors as to how sound he is, which doesn't surprise me. He's in my second tier despite the knocks on him.
9 - Trinniberg 50/1 Willie Martinez (0-4) Bisnath Parboo (Debut)
Notes: A lot has been said as to why he's here and plenty of people who are nothing more than frustrated trainers have taken their shots at the Parboos. It's simply a case of derby Fever, plain and simple. There have been plenty worse entered in this race yet I've never seen a commotion like this year. He probably couldn't win with a head start and don't think he'll be anywhere near the money but I doubt he'll be last like everyone else does.
10 - Daddy Nose Best 15/1 Garrett Gomez (0-8) Steve Asmussen (0-10)
Notes: Like Dullahan, this guy began his career in a pair of dirt sprints at Churchill and did his best work on turf and synthetics prior to his last start. The difference between the two is when this guy came charging home to win his last start it was over conventional dirt in the G3 Sunland Derby on conventional dirt. He got a brilliant pace set up that day and figures to get another one in the here but he didn't beat anything. I actually liked his race two back over the synthetic track at Golden Gate in the G3 El Camino Real Derby better but he certainly belongs here. He just won't be getting any of my money.
11 - Alpha 15/1 Rajiv Maragh (0-2) Kiaran McLaughlin (0-4)
Notes: His trainer said days ago that he didn't even think he'd be here two weeks ago or so after a laceration that occurred in the G1 Wood Memorial last out became infected and he was forced to miss a few days or training and had his travel plans to Louisville changed. The same thing happened to Invasor before the 2006 BC Classic at Churchill for Kiaran and we all know how that turned out. The fact that it's a guy like McLaughlin who I know wouldn't be here if this guy wasn't 100% makes me breathe easier as anyone who knows me knows I'm a big fan of this colt . You'd also know that I wanted to vomit when I heard Maragh would be riding. The month long debate as to whether gemologist was toying with him and would have won even if Ramon Dominguez was completely healthy will be answered by about 7PM Saturday night. I'm betting it was Ramon's fault. He's been my main man since the beginning of the year and it's gonna take a lot more than the presence of Rajiv to change that. Top tier prospect, to say the least.
12 - Prospective 30/1 Luis Contreras (Debut) Mark Casse (0-1)
Notes: Though his form was decent enough before the Tampa Bay Derby, he really seemed to improve with the blinkers when he won the race two back before racing evenly in the Blue Grass. Much slower than most and I still haven't been able to figure out what kind of trip he'll sit. Low-profile connections don't add to his appeal and there plenty others with more apparent upside in here. Not for me.
13 - Went the Day Well 20/1 John Velazquez (1-13) Graham Motion (1-3)
Notes: From the team that brought you 2011 Derby winner Animal Kingdom, they've even gone as far as running him in the G3 Spiral, which he won, and bedding him down in the same stall his stablemate called home during his stay in Louisville last year. The difference is this is a far deeper and more talented field than Animal Kingdom faced last year and I don't think he's as good of a horse. He's more of a grinder, and that's not gonna get it done in here. Plus, they're adding blinkers after he's won two in a row for the biggest race of his life. Who does that?!?! He figures to take action because of his connections; none of it will be mine.
14 - Hansen 10/1 Ramon Dominguez (0-8) Mike Maker (0-4)
Notes: I know his name isn't the same as the boy/kids band from the 1990's, but I've been waiting six months since he won the BC Juvenile last year to use this line: come the quarter pole in the Derby on Saturday, in an MmmBop he'll be gone!! The Grey Flash, White Warrior, whatever you wanna call him couldn't get 1 ¼ miles on a Greyhound bus. And while Dominguez seems to be back to his old self I'm not sure he or Maker know the best way to approach the race so I think he's going to wind up getting cooked on the engine. His owner guaranteed a victory. Being from New York, I've seen plenty of guys make guarantees. This one sounds more like a Patrick Ewing guarantee as opposed to a Mark Messier one. And I can assure you Hansen is nowhere near as talented or as money as the Captain was. He won't be on any of my tickets.
15 - Gemologist 6/1 Javier Castellano (0-5) Todd Pletcher (1-29)
Notes: Could he be the Empire Maker to Alpha's Funny Cide or was he really just waiting for someone to come catch him in the Wood? Either way he ran a dynamite race at the Big A and in my opinion has one of the three or four most attractive pedigrees when it comes to the added distance. He's done nothing wrong in his five race career as he's won at four different tracks at four different distances as well as over a wet course and a synthetic one. The only place he's run and won twice is right here at Churchill Downs, both times around two turns. The scar thing is there is so much parity in this field and the money figures to be so spread out that he might actually be close to 8/1 when the bell rings. Pletcher and Dominguez help his cause as well. 22 horses have come into the Derby undefeated and seven left the same way. I see no reason why he can't be number eight. Another obvious top tier prospect.
16 - El Padrino 20/1 Rafael Bejarano (0-7) Todd Pletcher (1-29)
Notes: Consider this: two months ago, you probably couldn't have gotten 10/1 on him for the Derby. On Saturday, he'll probably be over 25/1 and all because of a three length defeat in the Florida Derby. Not 15 or 20 lengths. Three lengths. And don't forget that Castellano rode him AND Union Rags, so to speak, that day so who knows what would have happened if Castellano would have just focused on him running his race. He's a much better horse on a wet track, that's obvious, but he did win the G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds over a fast track and is one of only four horses in here to earn a triple digit Beyer Speed Figure in his career. Saying the words "the other Pletcher" about him seems weird but that's his role now. The more I talk about him the more I like him. In fact I just moved him up to a second tier prospect.
17 - Done Talking 50/1 Sheldon Russell (Debut) Hamilton Smith (Debut)
Notes: Chad Summers' charge in the First Annual Big A/Little C Derby Prop Bet Wager (I have Rousing Sermon) needs to really step up his game to have any chance in here. He's my Trinniberg, if you will, as I can't comprehend why he's here. There is so much money at smaller tracks in other smaller derbies for him to try and win but I guess Derby Fever is THAT contagious. I don't know why I'm so surprised. It's not like this is my first rodeo. Forget him.
18 - Sabercat 30/1 Corey Nakatani (0-15) Steve Asmussen (0-10)
Notes: Another who's had strange Derby Trail as I am convinced Asmussen used the G2 Rebel and Arkansas Derby as afternoon workouts to get him here after getting such a late start. You can do that when you have plenty of graded stakes earnings after winning the G3 Delta Jackpot last year. His speed figures have constantly improved and will have to continue to do so if he has any chance at winning this. I'm sure both his trainer and jockey would love to remove the 0-fer albatrosses when it comes to the Derby from around their necks and if they do so this year the winners going to pay around $80. He's a third tier prospect for me.
19 - I'll Have Another 12/1 Mario Gutierrez (Debut) Doug O'Neill (0-2)
Notes: I'd be curious to see the last time the G1 Santa Anita Derby winner was listed as high as this guy is on the Derby morning line. He's two for two on fast tracks but has enough breaks in his form to lead me to believe that he definitely has some major issues. I wonder how coming back in less than a month is going to affect him. He probably got the worst of it at the draw as his options now are to use more of his speed than his connections would have liked to earlier on or get stuck very wide on the first. Either scenario is disastrous. I wouldn't dare talk anyone off of him but he's not for me.
20 - Liaison 50/1 Martin Garcia (0-1) Bob Baffert (3-21)
Notes: Another who's fallen from grace, you probably couldn't have gotten 10/1 on him in February; he'll likely be one of the three longest prices in the field on Saturday. Baffert is putting the blinkers back on but the only equipment change that would help his cause would be a rocket booster. Not a chance.
21 - My Adonis 50/1 Elvis Trujillo (Debut) Kelly Breen (0-3)
Notes: Winless since taking the local prep at Delta for the Jackpot last October, he actually ran a couple of good races in the G3 Holy Bull and G3 Gotham behind Hansen before the wheels came off when he beat just one in the Wood Memorial. Connections put him on a van Tuesday afternoon when Mark Valeski declared, making him the first A.E. He should have stayed in NJ. No chance.
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: