Twenty horses are set to take to the track at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 5th for the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Check out our Kentucky Derby picks and which horses we think that could be well on their way to the start of a potential Triple Crown run this week!
Normally speaking in the Kentucky Derby, it takes a 100+ Beyer Speed rating to win the race, and that's what we know No. 8 Creative Cause can run. He has run four straight races in the 90s or the low 100s, including that whopping 102 at the San Felipe in which he won, beating Bodemeister, one of the Derby favorites. We would have liked to see more out of Creative Cause at the Santa Anita Derby, when he was clipped by a nose by I'll Have Another, but in the end, we think that he is the better horse and one to watch out for in the end of this race. The question is going to be whether Creative Cause can really run down some of the best three year olds in the field and then stay in front of them. He never led at the Breeder's Cup Juvenile, the San Vicente, and the Santa Anita Derby, though he got right up to the lead in all of those races. Still, we think if jockey Joel Rosario can keep Creative Cause out of trouble, he is going to be a horse that ends right near the money when it is all said and done.
We know that there is a lot of talk about horses like Hansen and Bodemeister this year at the Kentucky Derby, but we just don't see either horse factoring into the equation when push comes to shove in spite of their great speed ratings and quality runs in the past. Instead, we are set to go with one of the other favorites for this race, No. 15 Gemologist. This is a horse that has plague Alpha in his entire career, and this should be no exception. There is a lot that we love about Gemologist for this race, most notably the fact that he has a pair of wins under his belt at Churchill Downs, including in a G2 race last November at the Breeder's Cup. This year, the run at the Wood Memorial proved to be his best at 1 1/8 miles, as he hung on and bested a field that included a lot of great horses. This is a colt that has a lot of heart, and it now has two straight 95+ speed ratings, something that you don't see a lot of here at the Derby. If Gemologist gets to the lead, he is going to be a horse to watch out for, as he has the heart of a championship and a winning trainer in Todd Pletcher to help get him ready for this race.
No. 4 Union Rags is going to be in a nice position here on the track for Saturday's race. He is up near the rail, a place that he has proven to be able to win in the past, and that should keep him out of trouble as he drifts back towards the middle of the pack. With the lack of speed in the race, Union Rags is going to be in the thick of the fight at the outset of this race if jockey Julian LeParoux positions him well. This is a big time closer with five straight races with speed ratings in the 90s. He didn't quite get to the front of the field at the Florida Derby, where he finished third, but aside from that, this has been a horse to beat every single time that he has been on the track. There are a few knocks against Union Rags, though. Phyllis Wyeth isn't exactly a known breeder at this level, and Michael Matz isn't exactly a world class trainer. We also have some worries about the way that this horse ran here at Churchill Downs last November in the Breeder's Cup Juvenile race. Union Rags was nipped by a head in a race in which he was the de facto odds on favorite by Hansen, another horse that could be a factor here at the Derby. We can't help but wonder if he is going to come up just short here at Kentucky Derby for a second time at Churchill Downs, though we know that this is as quality of a horse as there is in the field.
The horse that we think is going to be the one in the winner's circle on Saturday though, is No. 3 Take Charge Indy. This is a horse that really has run quite well since Calvin Borel became his jockey, and just hearing that name "Calvin Borel" here at the Triple Crown has to bring you that nice, warm tingly feeling inside. Borel is one of the most accomplished jockeys in the past decade at Triple Crown races, including three years ago when he won all three of the races (granted, on different horses). Since getting on Take Charge Indy, Borel has been great for this colt. He ran a 96 speed rating at a qualifying race at Gulfstream Park, and two months later at the Florida Derby, he basically went wire to wire. The difference now is that Take Charge Indy is being used as a starter, not a finisher. He is going to be the speed in a race that really doesn't have all that much in it, and in the end, that could lead to a heck of a finish for a colt that has as good of breeding as any other horse has had in this field in the past several years. Sire AP Indy and grandsire Seattle Slew, both legendary colts in their respective times, should be proud of the efforts that Take Charge Indy will make on Saturday, as he will get the bed of roses and be in the winner's circle when the night is said and done with at Churchill Downs.