2011 Kentucky Derby: 10 Bold Predictions for the Race
Tomorrow, I'll give you all my picks, my wagers, my suggestions, my hopes.
Today? Today I'm giving you what will definitely happen, what cannot not happen. These are my Joe Namaths, my Jim Fassels, my Winston Churchills.
You don't need to watch the race on Saturday to confirm that I am correct; I will be correct. These are my bold predictions for the race.
Okay, I could be dead-wrong. I could have missed the spot on all ten of these, just as I've missed the spot on this introduction.
As long as Santiva comes through for me at 35-1, I don't care where else I'm wrong.
With that said, here are my 10 bold predictions for the Kentucky Derby:
1. Dialed In Won't Win
As good as he may be, as good a jockey as Julien Leparoux is, and as good a trainer as Nick Zito is, I don't care. Dialed In is not circumnavigating 19 other three-year-old colts in the stretch. He just isn't.
He may pass a couple; he may pass 18 of them. I'm not going to go so far as to boldly proclaim just how many of them he'll leap past. But all of them? No way.
But no matter what odds you can get him at, it's just not a good bet. Way too much could go wrong. All it takes is one nugget of bad luck, and Dialed In will falter.
He will falter.
2. You'll Get Much Better Value on Archarcharch Than He Should Get
The one-post really is a bad post position, as it is situated inside of where the straight begins. The horse has only a hundred feet or so before the rail juts out, and if you draw from the one post you either have to burst out of the gate or lay back off the pace.
Archarcharch wants to be in mid-pack, and leaving from stall one is certainly not advantageous. But, the disadvantage is mitigated by having jockey Jon Court aboard.
Sure, Court, at 50, is a Kentucky Derby rookie, but he's been around the track at Churchill Downs a time or two. He's not Calvin Borel, but this is his home race course. He'll know how to keep Archarcharch out of trouble.
Moreover, Churchill Downs has a huge inside rail bias (hence Borel's successes), and if it rains, being able to guide Archarcharch along the inside will give him a good position.
This post position is not as bad as it would have been for, say, Soldat.
3. At Least One of the Turf/Synthetic Specialists Will Finish in the Money
With a field this wide open, this may not be that bold of a pick. But the talent the turf and synthetic specialists have does not match up with their odds.
Master of Hounds, the European shipper, is the best-bred horse in the field. Brilliant Speed is a close second.
Twinspired and Animal Kingdom are both nice horses, and you can make a superb case for either one of them.
My money will be on Brilliant Speed to be the synthetics specialist to hit the board (finish in the top three). He should be coming from a similar location to Dialed In, but he'll be just a little closer to the lead. That could make the difference.
4. Rosie Napravnik Factor
Expect this horse to get a lot of $2 sentimental wagers.
Luckily, in a race that takes this kind of action, all these $2 sentimental wagers will have only a minor influence over the final odds. Or in this case, unluckily.
Pants on Fire has less than a slim chance here. If only there were enough $2 sentimental bets to drive everyone else up a notch.
5. Broadcast Music
NBC will play quiet, drawn-out music when talking about Jon Court's first Kentucky Derby mount, only to switch to a fast, jovial instrumental tune after the highlight of Archarcharch winning the Arkansas Derby.
Court, 50, is making his Derby debut. He was supposed to make his debut on Line of David last year after piloting the John Sadler-trainee to success in the 2010 Arkansas Derby. But Sadler decided to go with experience, giving the mount to Rafael Bejarano.
Court was never in danger of losing this mount, as trainer Jinks Fires is his father-in-law. Still, this will be a good human interest story with background music is as predictable as a Nickelback album.
6. The Curse of Apollo Will Live On
As bogus as this curse is, Midnight Interlude is the only horse in this race that did not race as a juvenile.
The last horse to win the Kentucky Derby without making a start at two? Apollo in 1882.
Midnight Interlude was impressive in capturing the Santa Anita Derby, but it was an incredibly empty field. And despite a resounding endorsement on my podcast from turf writer Ray Paulick, I just don't think he's even close to good enough.
That said, here's a bold prediction for future Derbies: the Curse of Apollo will die within the next half-dozen years.
7. Quadruple the Borel
At least one NBC commentator will say Twice the Appeal is a factor in this race because of Calvin Borel. Logically speaking, that means at least one NBC commentator will be wrong.
There will be more speed than we are expecting. Comma to the Top, Shackleford, and Soldat all want the lead. Soldat needs the lead. Uncle Mo, drawing right outside of Soldat, could very well push himself right up there are well.
The post position draw has created a scenario where the run for the first turn will be stronger than either Soldat or Uncle Mo want, and we could have a half mile in the low 46-second range. That'll open the race up nicely for the stalkers and the mid-pack horses.
Dialed In's only hope is to take another second off that half. That's not likely to happen.
9. Uncle Mo Will Be the Post Time Favorite (If He Runs)
Even though Dialed In is the sexy choice, Uncle Mo is still the people's horse. His resounding win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last November over this very same Churchill Downs track will earn him a lot of cash that he does not deserve.
Also, owner Mike Repole has already said he would bet whatever he needs to make Mo the favorite, which means betting an inordinate amount of money. And he's a guy who can do it. Likely, he's a guy who will do it.
10. Uncle Mo Will Run
All this talk about Uncle Mo scratching is hog-wash.
Repole wanted to create an out for Uncle Mo just in case he drew a bad gate, but in the end, he wants to be here.
As long as Uncle Mo is healthy, Uncle Mo will run. And there's no reason to believe Uncle Mo won't be healthy enough. And if Uncle Mo loses, Repole can always fall back on the excuse that Mo was hurt. It's so twisted that no matter what happens, Repole will have an excuse or a trophy.
Also, Repole wants a starter. Sure, he has Stay Thirsty, but no one cares about Stay Thirsty (although he is the most interesting horse in the world). Plus, with all the doubters, myself included, Repole wants the ability to prove them all wrong.
You mark my words: Uncle Mo will start on Saturday. End of story.