Kentucky Derby 2012: Predicting the 138th Running

Adam Chemerinsky@@achemerinskyContributor IApril 29, 2012

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 05:  Hansen (far right), riden by Ramon Dominguez, wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile during the 2011 Breeders' Cup World Championships at Churchill Downs on November 5, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

 The 2012 Kentucky Derby will feature one of the deeper fields in recent memory. Every horse has a chance just by being entered into the starting gate. It was only three years ago that a 50-1 shot named Mine That Bird won.

While twenty will enter, only one will win, so it has come time to eliminate the unfortunate 19 horses that will not enter the winners circle next Saturday. 


Eliminate the Breeders Cup Juvenile Champion

The Breeders Cup Juvenile Champion has only won the Kentucky Derby once in the 26-year history of the Breeders Cup Juvenile. This equates to roughly 3.8 percent. The winner of the Juvenile has not even raced in the Kentucky Derby since 2007.  

Hansen does not have the stamina to last the mile and a quarter. Don't be surprised if the Louisville Cardinals' faithful in the stands boo Hansen due to his owner trying to dye his tail royal blue—the same colors as University of Kentucky—for his last race. 


Eliminate All Horses Who Competed in the Juvenile Breeders Cup

Only five Kentucky Derby winners have competed in the Juvenile. The last horse to win the Derby after racing in the Juvenile was Mine That Bird, who finished last in the 2009 Juvenile.

It has become a trend to be a lightly raced horse and win the Derby. Think Animal Kingdom last year.

So let's throw out all eight horses that ran in the Juvenile that will run the first Saturday in May:

  • Union Rags (always finds himself in traffic)
  • Creative Cause (no horse has won the Derby with a blinkers change in his last major race before the Derby) 
  • Dullahan (better suited for the grass),
  • Take Charge Indy (won't be racing in the front like he did in the Florida Derby) 
  • Alpha (injured) 
  • Daddy Nose Best
  • Prospective (finished sixth in the Blue Grass)


Eliminate Horses That Just Simply Are Not Very Good.

Trinniberg is a sprinter. A week ago his connections said they had no plan to race in the Derby. Now he will be asked to stretch from racing seven furlongs to a mile and a quarter. Even if you are not a horse racing fan, you should know that is a lot to ask.

Daddy Long Legs will be shipped in from Europe and will need six legs to win. He has been raced mainly on turf, although his pedigree suggests he is made for the dirt. His one dirt race was at Churchill, though, where he got 12th place. I just do not see a horse being shipped over from Europe winning the Derby ever. 


Eliminate the "Hot" Horse Heading into the Derby.

Think Nehro, Fresian Fire, Colonel John, Dunkirk. Those have been some of the hot horses in the past five years heading into the race, but none of them ended up winning the Derby.

This year, then, toss out Bodemeister. He won the Arkansas Derby by 9.5 lengths and has everyone buzzing around town about him. He is the only horse in the field to have three Beyer speed ratings of over 100. He also is made for this distance.

Everything seems to be going right for him heading into Derby day. Bodemeister will try to pull off a rare feat: winning the Derby without racing as a two-year-old. 


Eliminate Horses That Haven't Won a Graded Stakes Race This Year or Finished 4th or Worse in Last Prep Race

It has been over fifty years since a horse has finished worse than fourth and gone on to win the Derby. 

Mark Valeski sounds more like the man you want representing you in trial than your 138th winner of the Kentucky Derby. 

Rousing Sermon lacks tactical speed and is way to slow to be a contender in this race. He has never won a graded stakes and finished third in the Louisiana Derby, which was won by an 109-1 long shot.

Sabercat has never won a graded stakes race and Is not nearly fast enough to run down this field. 

Liason finished sixth in the Santa Anita Derby and has not shown much this year. 


Eliminate Horses That Are Still Learning How to Race 

People are going to be rushing to the betting window to bet on a horse that shares the same connections as last year's winner. The similarities stop there, and Went the Day Well can be eliminated.  

El Padrino is fast and has never raced a bad race. But he is also lazy and still learning how to use that speed. That does not translate well to winning a twenty-horse field. 


Eliminate the Santa Anita Derby Winner  

The Santa Anita Derby winner has not won the Derby since 1989, which is the longest drought for any major prep races to produce the winner of the derby.

While there is not much negative to say about this year's winner, I'll Have Another, his jockey will be riding in the Derby for the first time. No easy task. There are also rumors that he is receiving shock wave therapy, which may mean he has been over-raced this year.  


Do Not Eliminate Gemologist

Your 2012 Kentucky Derby Champion will be Gemologist. The only undefeated horse in the field has a great jockey and great trainer in Todd Pletcher. He won the Wood Memorial and has improved in every race.

As long as he does not take a step back. he will be the champion.  


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