In the 2011 Kentucky Derby, the smart money is nowhere to be found as handicappers are having trouble determining who the best horses are. Months ago, Uncle Mo was the go-to favorite, but after poor performances recently, a spot on top has opened up.
The new presumptive favorite, Dialed In, has been good, but not great throughout his career. Soldat (French for soldier) has a chance to upset Dialed In if he runs a perfect race. He would be much higher on the odds list if not for finishing in fifth place at the Florida Derby.
Soldat did win the competitive Fountain of Youth stakes in February, and stands ready to compete in the Derby. He does not have a lot of experience on dirt tracks like the one at Churchill Downs, having run most of his races on turf. Even so, the Fountain of Youth was run on a similar track and Soldat had no trouble winning there.
Soldat actually did well on a rain-soaked track in January, and will move up the list of favorites if it rains on Saturday. It has already been raining the last few weeks in Kentucky. Regardless of whether or not it rains on Saturday, conditions could be slippery from prior area storms. Soldat has proven he can race in bad conditions.
In his most recent race, Soldat struggled to a fifth-place finish in the Florida Derby.
Soldat is the son of War Front, and will be coming home when he runs the Kentucky Derby—the horse was bred in Kentucky.
Dialed In won the Florida Derby against Soldat. Although he did not finish with an outstanding time (a second slower than last year's winner), his stretch run was impressive. Most horses in the Derby this year have not had exceptional times in tuneup races, which makes it difficult to handicap the race. Dialed In, however, has proven he has a competitive edge. If it comes to a photo finish, Dialed In will likely be the horse out front.
He also will be familiar with the track at the Derby, having won the first race of his career at Churchill Downs. Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito has said Dialed In won't come up short in this race and has the endurance to stay strong through the longer track.
While Soldat could be a good bet if he has good odds Saturday and the track is wet, Dialed In is the favorite for a reason and will not be upset by Soldat in sunny conditions.