Chris Woods Jockey Reviews Triple Crown

Chris WoodsContributor IApril 19, 2009

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - MARCH 28:  Quality Road ridden by jockey John Velazquez comes around turn four in first place on his way to winning the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 28, 2009 in Hallandale Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The 2009 running of the Kentucky Derby, the first leg of the Triple Crown, is less than a fortnight away and the fever among horse racing enthusiasts is already spiking.

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It is safe to say that the Triple Crown is the most popular horse wagering event of the season and the 2009 edition is set to beat all previous records.

Even people that don’t normally bet horses will take a look at Triple Crown betting odds and will end up betting a few dollars on the three races of the Triple Crown—the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.

Only 11 horses have managed to win the Triple Crown in its entire history and that shows just how difficult it is to pick the winner, also considering that the favorite almost never wins the Triple Crown.

Let’s have a quick look at the 2009 Triple Crown favorites as of April 19.

All eyes are on the 135th Kentucky Derby favorite I Want Revenge, who in two of his last four races, has come from off the pace, winning the Wood and falling short by a single nose to the Nile in the Cash Call Futurity.

I Want Revenge's chances greatly improved on the news that the other super favorite, Quality Road, has a quarter crack in his right hind foot, which could force him out of contention.

After winning three important stakes races including the Louisiana Derby, Friesan Fire has become a leading contender for the Kentucky Derby and a likely contender for the Triple Crown.

Quality Road's hopes remain almost intact after his quarter crack was deemed not serious by foot specialist Ian McKinlay, who treated Big Brown’s quarter crack in 2008.

Pioneer of the Nile, who has never raced on a traditional dirt surface, is also believed to be one of the few horses with a shot to the 2009 Triple Crown.

More Notes:

While graded stakes earnings will always shuffle the Kentucky Derby contender list, an excellent pedigree can take a Thoroughbred first to the wire on the first Saturday in May. Some Thoroughbreds have the graded stakes earnings that will qualify them to make the limited 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby, but may lack ancestral credentials that instantly put a horse on the can-he-get-the-longer-distances-of-the-Triple-Crown-races list, as Win Willy and Musket Man.


True Contenders Separate Themselves Before Derby

Other contenders, like this season's Friesan Fire, I Want Revenge, Pioneer of the Nile, Chocolate Candy, and Hold Me Back have plenty of both ingredients going for them. This foursome is done racing in competition until they gate up for the Derby. They are proven all-around winners, ready to rumble for Triple Crown jewels.

Some contenders may be pretenders, as Imperial Council and Dunkirk. They have great name sires in their parentage, but they haven't yet earned their way.

And there are always those who just have to answer the big questions still present in the minds of their trainers, jockeys, and owners, like Quality Road, who answered a lot in the Florida Derby, the Pamplemousse, who was scratched from the Santa Anita Derby because of tendon soreness, and Desert Party, who lost unexpectedly to his stablemate in the UAE Derby, but picked up a big paycheck.

Old Fashioned, who is graded stakes healthy and is well sired, lost to Win Willy in the Rebel Stakes. Like Imperial Council, he has faded prior to the biggest test.