It's Saturday May 5 2012, which means the day has come for the 138th running of the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs.
After the race is over, we'll begin to talk about the possibilities about the winner possibly becoming a Triple Crown winner. Something we have been waiting since 1978 when Affirmed under jockey Steve Cauthen, trained by Lazaro S. Barrera and owned by Harbor View Farm achieved the feat.
Only 11 horses have done so since 1919. The current drought—34 years—is the longest between Triple Crown winners in history. Previously the longest one was 25 years between Citation's win in 1948 and Secretariat in 1973.
Twenty horses will take the track tomorrow to the sound of My Old Kentucky Home, and the dreams and hopes of each connection and fans will reach their peak of emotion in just two minutes.
On Derby day we can expect almost anything to happen. We've seen many long shots take the win, and weather many times has input on the development of the race. The Churchill Downs main track was closed for training this morning because of heavy rain overnight.
As of 7:30 a.m, it was cloudy, but no longer raining. The Weather Channel website forecasts for today on Churchill Downs:
"Early track condition prognosis: Wet-Fast. Heat may be most notable on race day. Nearby front will keep threat for T-Storms."
The Weather Channel might be on to something. If it doesn't rain, the possibility for the track to be wet-fast is very possible, and by Derby time it could be fast. But should keep an eye on the weather.
DRF.com reported that Union Rags was the early betting favorite at 6-1 as of 7:20 p.m. on Friday. Let's take a look at a prediction for the entire field and their early bird odds.
Kentucky Derby | Grade I | Purse: $2 Million | Distance: 10 furlongs | Post Time: 6:24 p.m. ET
|1||Daddy Long Legs||Colm O'Donoghue||Aidan P. O'Brien||26-1|
Lifetime Record: 5-3-0-0 Works: None
Daddy Long Legs looked very good winning the UAE Derby at 9.5 furlongs, but that was on Tapeta. This will be on dirt, and his only try on dirt was on the Juvenile last year where he was a bust.
He will be trying to emulate Ferdinand on 1986 when he won posting from the rail, but more than that he would be the first European-trained horse to ever win the Derby. If you want a tip on whether you should bet on him, his trainer, Euro great Aidan O'Brien, didn't made the trip to the US.
|2||Optimizer||Jon K. Court||D. Wayne Lukas||31-1|
Lifetime Record: 9-1-2-1 Works: 5F 1:00.4 (Apr. 29), 4F :48.6 (Apr. 23)
I like this horse a lot. If someone knows how to win the Derby, it is D. Wayne Lukas. And I remember the 1999 Derby when a horse named Charismatic, trained by Lukas, had odds of 31-1 at the Derby shocked everyone winning the Derby.
Optimizer is training excellent for this race and he will be flying from the clouds today at the end. Beware and take notice, this horse has a lot of chance today. If he wins, I would have to check, but Lukas (76) and Court (51) would probably be the oldest tandem of trainer-jockey to win the Derby.
|3||Take Charge Indy||Calvin H. Borel||Patrick B. Byrne||7-1|
Lifetime Record: 6-2-2-0 Works: 5F 1:00.4 (Apr. 26), 5F 1:01.6 (Apr. 19)
The Florida Derby winner has a royal pedigree. His sire (AP Indy) is a champion stallion and Hall of Famer, and his dam was a millionaire who won Grade I stakes races. He has a three-time Derby-winning jockey aboard, so his win is almost a lock right?
Not quite. In the Florida Derby he had everything go his way, and as he crossed the wire Union Rags was gaining on him quickly. With an extra furlong—like today—Union Rags would have passed him easily. I can't see him finishing in the money today.
|4||Union Rags||Julien R. Leparoux||Michael R. Matz||6-1|
Lifetime Record: 6-4-1-1 Works: 5F :59.8 (Apr. 28), 4F :47.4 (Apr. 20)
The trainer of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro and the 2009 champion jockey will take the 2012 Derby. I expect Union Rags to win the Derby after a titanic duel with Gemologist in the final furlong.
This horse is just too good, and since Matz untied his tongue a couple of days ago for a breeze, he is just another horse on the track and looks ready to be unleashed today. Leparoux learned his lesson in the Florida Derby, get to the clear early and everything will be fine. Your winner.
|5||Dullahan||Kent J. Desormeaux||Dale Romans||10-1|
Lifetime Record: 8-2-2-2 Works: 5F 1:01.20 (Apr. 28)
The impressive winner of the Blue Grass Stakes looks to keep his winning ways. While I recognized his form prior to his last race and picked him to win, I also see that he does his best on synthetic and turf.
On dirt he is good, but just not good enough to beat the other favorites. An example of this seems to be his work for this race on Churchill Downs. It's a full two seconds slower than the one for the Blue Grass at Keeneland. I don't see him placing in the money here.
|6||Bodemesiter||Mike E. Smith||Bob Baffert||8-1|
Lifetime Record: 4-2-2-0 Works: 5F :59.6 (Apr. 29), 5F 1:00.8 (Apr. 24)
He was the morning line favorite and could still close as such by post time. He has a mean-fit form for the race, a good post position and Derby-winning connections in trainer Bob Baffert and Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
It's hard not to jump on his wagon. He has three straight Beyers in the hundreds, and after his impressive win at the Arkansas Derby everything screams a win here. But I still have to see him win a race after stalking the pace, and the quality of the pace and the field here makes me pass on him today.
I wouldn't be surprised if he proves me wrong, but I don't see him putting on another show like he did in the Arkansas Derby.
|7||Rousing Sermon||Jose Lezcano||Jerry Hollendorfer||18-1|
Lifetime Record: 9-2-2-4 Works: 5F 1:00.4 (May 1), 7F 1:27.2 (Apr. 21)
He seems to be finishing in the top three every time, but he will be facing much better horses today. His previous jockeys deserted him. Mike Smith rode him on his last, and now he is in Bodemeister. Garrett Gomez and Rafael Bejarano are on other horses and Joe Talamo is not in the Derby. Got the message?
|8||Creative Cause||Joel Rosario||Mike Harrington||12-1|
Lifetime Record: 8-4-2-2 Works: 4F :47.8 (Apr. 30), 1:00.20 (Apr. 24)
This horse is dangerous here. He has never finished more than a length behind and always seems to be in the mix at the wire. He has been working excellent for the race and should be near the winners at the end.
From his post position, Rosario should place him right behind Bodemeister and Union Rags in the second tier pack. He will make his move accordingly with them, but I just think he will fall just short today. Rosario needs to have him ahead of the closers to have a chance, I don't see him running down the leaders in the stretch.
|9||Trinniberg||Willie Martinez||Bisnath Parboo||40-1|
Lifetime Record: 7-3-2-0 Works: 6F 1:15.4
He hasn't looked comfortable on his workouts during the mornings. The only strategy for him is to go to the front and hope he'll get to the 10 furlongs—he's never run beyond seven. The only way he has a chance is if nobody comes to him for the first three calls, and that is not going to happen.
|10 ||Daddy Nose Best||Garrett K. Gomez||Steven M. Asmussen||14-1|
Lifetime Record: 10-4-2-1 Works: 4F :49.4 (Apr. 30), 6F 1:14 (23)
Eye-popping during the morning workouts at Churchill and has everyone in the track during the mornings buzzing about a win for him. He is peaking at the right time and comes from two races where he has improved his Beyers significantly.
If he improves again—and seems ready to do so—he could win today. He is the only horse with two wins at eight furlongs and has superb trainer-jockey combination. I expect him to close fast today, but I believe he'll be third best today.
|11||Alpha||Rajiv Maragh||Kiaran P. McLaughlin||22-1|
Lifetime Record: 6-3-2-0 Works: 5F :59.4 (Apr. 28)
I like this horse. He has improved greatly this year with the Lasix, and after a tough trip he closed well against Gemologist at the Woods—although have to admit he hit a wall there.
I believe his gate problems are behind him and won't make much out of him posting from the 11th slot—he'll be the first to go in along with Daddy Long Legs. But I think his form was affected by being sidelined for several days after cuts in his legs became infected, thus altering his travel plans.
|12||Prospective||Luis Contreras||Mark Casse||69-1|
Lifetime Record: 8-4-2-0 Works: 5F 1:01 (Apr. 28),
He needs a big move forward to win here. The competition in the Tampa Bay Derby wasn't that much and he didn't show anything in the Blue Grass. No excuse there, he had been perfect on synthetic prior to that, so his odds are justified. He is not on the same level as the favorites here.
|13||Went the Day Well||John R. Velazquez||H. Graham Motion||20-1|
Lifetime Record: 5-2-2-0 Blinkers-ON Works: 5F 1:01.6 (Apr. ), 1:14.4 (Apr. 21)
The horse with the defending Derby-winning connections. Everything screams Deja Vu for him here, as he has followed almost the exact same path that took Animal Kingdom to the winners circle last year.
He has an eerie resemblance as well to AK, but I believe he is still raw and the blinkers-on for today should help him be more alert and focused. I just think he still has to improve to win here, he will contend with them but not today.
|14||Hansen||Ramon A. Dominguez||Michael J. Maker||7-1|
Lifetime Record: 6-4-2-0 Works: 5F 1:01.2
The two-year-old champ is looking to prove a lot of people wrong today and I am included in that group. I believe he will contest the pace early, he was rank during his last workout and as such could prove a handful for Dominguez to control early today.
I just think he will go right after Trinniberg and will be done with a furlong to go. He did show he can rate at the Gotham, but the opposition here is far greater today.
|15||Gemologist||Javier J. Castellano||Todd A. Pletcher||8-1|
Lifetime Record: 5-5-0-0 Works: 4F :50.2 (Apr. 29), 5F 1:00.8 (Apr. 24)
Unbeaten and proven. He has the nation's leading trainer and jockey, has the pedigree and is perfect over the Churchill track. Has a great great post and has been working very well for the race.
I expect Castellano to ease his way to the inside and keep him on the outside on the clear. He will have the first shot at the leaders at the top of the stretch and will be up front with a furlong to go and will engage in battle to to wire with Union Rags. He'll finish a gallant and close second.
|16||El Padrino||Rafael Bejarano||Todd A. Pletcher||34-1|
Lifetime Record: 6-3-1-1 Works: 4F :53.2 (Apr 29), 5F 1:00.4 (Apr 20)
He seems to have lost his early year form and jockey Castellano noticed and stayed with Gemologist. I am going to do the same thing.
|17||Done Talking||Sheldon Russell||Hamilton A. Smith||34-1|
Lifetime Record: 7-3-0-2 Works: 5F 1:01 (Apr. 28), 4F :49.6 (Apr. 23)
I am like his name regarding his chances at winning here. I am done. There is no way he wins or places in the money on this race. OK, I am done now.
|18||Sabercat||Corey S. Nakatani||Steven A. Asmussen||39-1|
Lifetime Record: 8-3-0-2 Works: 4F :48.4 (Apr. 30), 5F 1:02.8 (Apr. 23)
He ran much better in the Arkansas Derby than he did at the Risen Star. It was just his second start of the year after a four-month break, and I think he is still a race short of being in top form. And even in top form I would be hard pressed to pick him since he seems a tab below the best here.
|19||I'll Have Another||Mario Gutierrez||Doug O'Neill||17-1|
Lifetime Record: 5-3-1-0 Works: 6F 1:13.8 (Apr. 27), 6F 1:13.3 Apr. 19)
This horse has run well on dirt and synthetic. He just didn't like the slop where he made his only bad start on his career. Every other time this horse has shown he can fight and stalked the leader.
He did this in the Santa Anita Derby where he stalked the pace to later run him down and held after a hard-fought stretch to win. His outside post might have Gutierrez farther back than his preferred forwardly place on the early goings. Intriguing yet deceptive, I think he'll fight to the top of the stretch but he'll give up to the closers.
|20||Liaison||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||60-1|
Lifetime Record: 7-3-0-1 Blinkers-ON Works: 5F 1:00.8 (Apr. 30), 6F 1:12.8 (Apr. 25)
I have no clue what this horse is doing here. Three very mediocre races this year show he is just a shadow of what he was last year. I can't picture him suddenly becoming a world beater, especially starting from post 20.