After winning Friday's Kentucky Oaks with Plum Pretty, Bob Baffert starts Midnight Interlude in the Kentucky Derby looking to become the first trainer in 60 years to complete the Oaks/Derby double in the same year.
From a betting stand point, the news of Uncle Mo (ranked No. 3 on Horse Racing Nation’s 2011 Kentucky Derby Contenders list) being scratched from the 137th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby (Grade I) presented by Yum! Brands, is disappointing because it will take away some of the value on the other runners.
With the defection of Uncle Mo, it’s likely that favored Dialed In will go off below his morning line of 4-to-1. As I wrote a couple of days ago, the two shortest prices are not for me, and here are the four I’ve landed on in the Run for the Roses.
My top pick is 10-to-1 shot No. 15 Midnight Interlude, looking to give Bob Baffert his fourth Derby victory and first since he won in 2002 with War Emblem. His pilot 10 years ago was Victor Espinoza, who is aboard this year as well, although not being a part of Baffert’s barn on a daily basis over the past few years.
He’ll need to snap the 128-year drought of no horse winning the Derby after being unraced as a two-year-old, but streaks are made to be broken. Right?
Based off a Santa Anita Derby (Grade I) win that saw him in full stride late after being impeded in the home stretch, he should relish the mile and a quarter distance. All of his rivals have a license to improve, but with just four races under his belt, there is a likely progression that could have him sitting on his best race.
The top two finishers of the Arkansas Derby (Grade I) also rate a big shot after being visually impressive in their dash to the wire at Oaklawn Park on April 16. Many pundits believe that with Archarcharch (10-to-1) drawing post No. 1 and Nehro (6-to-1) stuck outside in No. 19 that their chances are compromised.
Will Midnight Interlude win the 2011 Kentucky Derby?
That suits my interests just fine as it should help their prices a touch. The inside post could end up working in Arch3’s advantage with his versatile running style allowing him to maneuver a good spot mid-pack while saving ground and Nehro can cut in behind the field to save ground before setting up his closing kick.
My final contender is Soldat (12-to-1), who with the scratch of Uncle Mo is the only runner to post a triple digit Beyer speed figure, and now finds himself outside all the other early speed. In his Florida Derby (Grade I) flop, he was stuck inside and shuffled behind horses, which caused him to never have a chance to do his best running.
Picking the right horses is only half the battle, as putting it all together to make your bets is just as challenging. With a wagering menu full of options, it’s not as simple as Win/Place/Show.
My favorite item on the menu is the Pick 4, as I believe it offers the best chance at a nice score with a realistic investment. In the past year in Southern California, I have documented profits of over $5,000 playing the Pick 4 for the minimum fifty cent increment. (www.pick4blog.com)
Not only does Derby day bring us the most famous horse race in the world, but some of the best horses in the nation also compete on the under card that is loaded with important stakes action.
The three races prior to the Derby that are part of the late Pick 4 sequence are the $200,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (Grade II), the $300,000 Churchill Downs (Grade II) and the $500,000 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (Grade I).
My late Pick 4 for play for Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs is (races 8-11):
(1,2,6,7,11) w (2,3,6,12) w (7,8) w (1,15,17,19) – Total cost of ticket = $80
Playing a sequence of races such as the Pick 4 is described as a horizontal wager, whereas vertical wagers encompass just a single race and include exactas, trifectas, superfectas and the super high five.
My vertical play for the Kentucky Derby will be a trifecta, where we’ll key No. 15 Midnight Interlude and No. 19 Nehro in the top spot, use those two along with No. 1 Archarcharch and No. 17 Soldat for second, and punch the ALL button in the third slot. For $.50, the total cost of the bet comes to $51.
Whether you’re on track somewhere, or watching the races from the comfort of your own home in brilliant HD on NBC, good luck with all your wagers.
If the Derby is the only race you watch every year, hopefully the excitement and pageantry lure you to enjoy the great sport of horse racing on a more regular basis.
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