The 2010 Kentucky Derby might not be the strongest Derby that the racing world has seen, but what the actual Kentucky Derby lacks, the Kentucky Derby undercard more than makes up for.
With six graded stakes on the card, Kentucky Derby day is always a must-see for racing fans, but this year it is especially important. Even if we exclude the actual Kentucky Derby from consideration, there are still nine Grade I winners racing, including at least one in each of the five graded stakes prior to the Derby.
Now I am going to take you through each of those five races and also the Derby and make my mythical selections, that you can put real money on. For the sake of reasoning, I am given a mythical $400 to work with, and my next article will recap the races and show how I did as a handicapper. You can also put your own selections in here by commenting below. Let's get right to it shall we?
G3 Eight Belles Stakes
In this race it's gonna be tough to find a horse to beat 2-HOT DIXIE CHICK, so the way to make money in here is to use exactas. Other than HOT DIXIE CHICK, only one horse has won a stakes race, that being 4-DECELERATOR, who posted a win in the G3-Debutante more than ten months ago. Since that race her form has weakened with 9 starts, 2 wins, 3 seconds, and 0 thirds (9-2-3-0). Also, her best Beyer Speed Figure this year is an 83, not close to enough to be competitive with 'DIXIE', who has posted 3 90+ Beyers in her five race career. However, the money might lie with 3-BELL'S SHOES. Despite losing to DECELERATOR in two of her last three starts, 'Bell' has been improving each and every time she goes on the track. Sired by 2003 Horse of the Year Mineshaft, she will only get better as the distance gets longer. This 7.5f race is as much of a route as it is a sprint and when the final furlong comes around, not many horses will be there, but 'Bell' will have the stamina to make it. Now I'm not going to waste my money betting on the little fillies, so I'm going lite here.
Selections: $10 to win 3-BELL'S SHOES, $2 Ex Box 2-3,4 Total=$18
G2 Distaff Turf Mile
In a race where six of the eight participants are graded stakes winner, there will always be some value to be found. Last year's winner 5-TIZAQUEENA won in front running fashion, but might have to sit off the pace this year with 4-HOOH WHY a need the lead type. However, i think that the race comes down to if 3-FANTASIA runs back to her form in Europe, where she won dual G3 races and finished 2nd and 3rd in two respective G1's. She debuted in America on April 11th and finished a smart second coming off a six month layoff. With the race under her belt, she should improve off of it. Two time G1 winner 7-DIAMONDRELLA is a regally bred mare, but hasn't put it together yet this year. She hasn't won since October and has only hit the board once in her last four. So, even though I think she has the most talent, I'll be playing against her here.
Selections: $20 to win on 3-FANTASIA Total=$20
G1 Humana Distaff S.
This race features 2009 Champion Female Sprinter 3-INFORMED DECISION, but she looks more than beatable in this spot. Her record on dirt is solid (5-3-0-1), but she is definately more well suited to synthetics. Even her last race wasn't to her normal form (a 90 Beyer at her fav. distance). She was soundly beaten in her last try on dirt in August and that was when she was in top form. 2-WARBLING looks like a strong candidate to spring the upset. She has improved Beyers in each of her last four races going from 82-93-96-to a 107 in her latest contest. She sprung clear of the field and romped by 3.75L over a quality G2 field.
Selections: $20 to win on 2-WARBLING, $5 ex box 2-3 Total=$30
G2 Churchill Downs S
This race really has more of a case to be a Grade I than its predeessor with nine of its thirteen runners having posted a graded stakes win. The race will really com down to four quality horses. The 1-MUNNINGS is slightly better than average on a wet track, and that is most likely the challenge he will be facing on race day. His 7-4-1-2 record on fast dirt is impressive, but has only managed a 3-0-0-3 record on the slop. The 111 Beyer he ran back in June of last year is the second best of the field, but hasn't quite found that type of form since. 7-WARRIOR'S REWARD is 2/2 in 2010 including his G1 Carter win last out where he defeated both Munnings and Musket Man, but ran a dismal 5th in the Travers last year when on a sloppy track, but that loss could be attributed to the distance. He did run a solid 113 Beyer on a good sealed track exactly one year ago. With Julian Leparoux on board he should betough to beat. If 11-KENSEI can return to his summer of 2009 form than he will be competitive in this spot, but his last three have all been well below average, plus his worst career race came on a sloppy track. 12-MUSKET MAN just missed in the G1 Carter and has always been in the mix, look for him to be competitive but not win.
Selections: $20 to win on 7-WARRIOR'S REWARD $5 Ex 7,12-1,7,12 Total=$40
G1 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic
2-GENERAL QUARTERS is trying turf for first time since Nov. of 2008 where he finished 8th beaten more than six lenghts, so I'll toss the 8-1ML choice. The dual G1 winner 3-COURT VISION is the overwhelming 9-5ML fav, but hasn't won in over six months and has only won once in 17 months. I'll give him credit for facing the toughest of tough competition, but today's field is no slouch and he'll need to bring his 'A' game to win, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to bet that on a less than 2-1 choice. The 5-AL KHALI made the switch to turf last year after two dismal perfomances in Triple Crown race preps. He hasn't been super spectacular on the sod, but has improved with a 6-1-1-1 record including a win in the G3 Saranac Stakes, but after showing no affinity for a soft turf course in the Turf Classic Invitational last year, he's hard to give a hard look to. 6-BATTLE OF HASTINGS has been in the top three in ten of his last eleven starts, but has only posted four wins during that time period. He did run his one race out of the money on a soft turf course so I can't give him the win nod, but will use him in exotics. 7-BLUES STREET s on a roll winningfour straight races including a G2 and G3. Soft turf doesn't seem to affect him and his new found last-to-first runs have been his trademark. 8-LOUP BRETON did not have a good experience when he switched to the synthetic but is back on turf today, not sure how he'll like th soft going, but banking on that he hates it.
Selectons: $20 to win on 7-BLUES STREET, $5 Ex 3,6,7-3,6,7,8 Total=$65
G1 Kentucky Derby
This one's the big one, all of it is on the line, but with the deflections of Eskedereya, Rule, and Endorsement during the final week, the race has a tainted feel to it. Nonetheless, the race will go off as scheduled and we will have our 136th Kentucky Derby winner. My pick will be the 16-AWESOME ACT. I loved the quick burst he showed in the Gotham and that he still managed a third in the G1 Wood Memorial despite losing a shoe and stumbling at the break. He will have to go through traffic to get there, but most likely the winner of the race WILL come from the back of the pack. This is because the pace of the race looks to be hot with 4-SUPER SAVER, 5-LINE OF DAVID, 7-AMERICAN LION, 10-PADDY O PRADO, 12-CONVEYANCE, 15-DISCREETLY MINE, and 20-SIDNEY'S CANDY all confirmed front runners. Of that group only 4-SUPER SAVER and 20-SIDNEY'S CANDY have a real shot of see the entire race play out, because the others will fold. The favorite 1-LOOKIN AT LUCKY will be tough to beat if he gets a good trip, but he just has such a knack for finding trouble and there's going to be trouble everywhere in a 20 horse field. 2-ICE BOX and 6-STATELY VICTOR are both sort of wise-guy horses that I'll use in exotics, because they bothe won their respective preps (Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes) and both come from the back of the pack. In the end I think Awesome Act's breeding is what separates him. He's by 1998 BC Classic winer Awesome Again out of a Mr. Prospector mare which screams stamina. With a good trip, fast pace, and bad trip for the favorite, Awesome Act will be your Kentucky Derby winner.
Selections: $100 to win on 16-AWESOME ACT, $2 Ex Box 1-2-6-16-20 Total=$140
That makes a grand total of $313. To everyone betting on the Derby and other races on the Derby card, Good Luck and....
May the Horse Be With You