Early Kentucky Derby Selections

The 2014 Kentucky Derby is not far away. Here are my CURRENT picks and my odds for them. Remember, the odds placed here are not their actual odds, just the odds I would give them. So my top pick will have the lowest odds. However, these may change. My final picks will be announced Derby week (Anytime between April 26th - May 2nd).

1. California Chrome (5-2)

I have a few concerns. Some are the pace of the Derby, the distance, and running out of California. If all of those don’t stop him, it looks like nothing will. He ran the 3rd fastest Santa Anita Derby without any urging from his rider and being eased in the final sixteenth. I also believe he will be just fine mid-pack and, if he will be, the Derby will be his to take.

2. Wicked Strong (6-1)

This horse’s pedigree has Kentucky Derby written all over it. He’s a son of Hard Spun, a second place finisher in the Derby, a grandson of Charismatic, a Derby winner, and great grandson of Northern Dancer, a near Triple Crown winner. And FINALLY, we have a closer to sweep past all of these frontrunners in the Derby. Could very well see him get a mile and a quarter and more.

3. Samraat (10-1)

Many horses don’t win their last prep and then return to win the Kentucky Derby. I think Samraat will improve off the Wood. I have a feeling he will be further back in the Kentucky Derby and will make a later run. His workouts are much longer than most horses (Often 1 mile compared to a half mile). His pedigree has some horses that ran well at a mile and a quarter and some that even won.

4. Constitution (12-1)

He is the unbeaten horse. 3 wins in 3 starts, including the Florida Derby, he has done nothing wrong. He seems to not like the dirt in his face and, unless he learns to take it, he needs an outside post position and be forwardly placed if he has a shot at a safe trip. But he showed guts in the Florida Derby. He fought hard and learned what it means to fight to win. 

5. Ride on Curlin (15-1)

This is my longshot pick. I am giving him 15-1, but he will probably wind up at 30-1 at the track. I have been following this horse since September when I picked him to win the Iroqouis Stakes. But he is slowly improving. He is a son of Curlin, so the mile and a quarter should not bother him. He also is one of the few horses in the field to have ran at Churchill Downs.

6. Cairo Prince (15-1)

Was disappointed in his performance in the Florida Derby. However, running on the inside, where he was in the Florida Derby, is not where he seems to want to be. If he gets a good outside post in the Derby, I think the son of Pioneerof The Nile can get the job done.

7. Hoppertunity (17-1)

I wasn’t too impressed with his win in the Rebel. Tapiture, who was second, was faced with huge traffic troubles and was shuffled around and was only beaten a head while Hoppertunity was ridden very hard to win. However, I gained more respect for him in the Santa Anita Derby. He ran a very good second to California Chrome and had more after the race. His pedigree doesn’t scream mile and a quarter, but this son of Any Given Saturday may have enough on his own to win.

8. Danza (20-1)

Was very impressed and surprised in his win in the Arkansas Derby. To be honest, I didn’t even know he was running in the race, or even his name for that matter. But he drew away to win by 5 lengths! At 41-1! He will also come in the Derby fresh having only run twice last year and once this year. He has a very quick turn of foot.

9. Candy Boy (20-1)

This horse needs to be a closer. For whatever reason, Stevens was keeping him close to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby, which is not where this horse needs to be. If he is mid pack to further back, the son of Candy Ride should be able to catch the frontrunners. I really liked him in the Robert B. Lewis and, if he runs a race like that again, he should win in Kentucky.

10. Vicar’s In Trouble (23-1)

If he gets his way in Kentucky, this guy looks unstoppable. This may as well be the year we see our first female jockey win the Kentucky Derby. Vicar’s In Trouble needs an uncontested lead and, if he gets it, he always draws off to win by 5+ lengths. However, in a field of 20 and my bias against frontrunners lasting the distance, a perfect trip may be tough to get.

11. Intense Holiday  (25-1)

 

He ran very good races in both the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby. My concern is what was going on in the Louisiana Derby. He seemed to give up at the top of the stretch and was shifting left and right like crazy. However, his late running style and the way he showed the guts and determination to win the Risen Star is exactly what a Derby winner needs.

12. Tapiture (30-1)

Loved him in the Southwest. He drew away to win easily. The missing piece here is the Arkansas Derby. There are two possible scenarios that went down: He gets weaker as the distance increases OR it just wasn’t his day. Being a son of Tapit, who tend to be successful racehorses, I have a feeling it isn’t the distance that got him. Due to the Arkansas Derby, I am giving him 30-1, but I would not be the least bit surprised if Tapiture wins the Kentucky Derby.

13. General A Rod (30-1)

Being a grandson of Dynaformer, who is the sire of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, a mile and a quarter is no stranger to his pedigree. However, my concern actually is the distance. He seems to be at best a miler. He slowly but surely regressed as the distances got longer. However, maybe having someone else chase Wildcat Red, General A Rod would be no surprise to get it together on the first Saturday of May.

14. Wildcat Red (30-1)

He is a gutsy frontrunner who really earned my respect after losing the Florida Derby. He proved that no horse was going to pass him easily. If an average frontrunner ran in the Florida Derby, Constitution would have won by 3 or 4 lengths, but Wildcat Red wouldn’t let him get by that easily. However, if he can’t hold on at a mile and an eighth, I have trouble seeing him last a mile and a quarter.

15. Medal Count (35-1)

Due to his performance and pedigree, Medal Count’s future seems to want to be on the turf. Dynaformer, his sire, has sired mostly turf runners. However, like mentioned before, he is the sire of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro who began on turf then switched to dirt. If he can quickly switch from turf/synthetics to dirt successfully, I wouldn’t consider him as much of a longshot.

16. Chitu (35-1)

He ran a very good race in the Sunland Derby to beat Midnight Hawk who put up a very good effort. My concern is that he seems to like being close to a rather fast pace. That is just what I got from the Sunland Derby, though. Being close and having a lengthly layoff are my only complaints. He ran very well in the Robert B. Lewis and improved off that in the Sunland Derby. The only reason that his odds are so high is because him liking to be close to the lead and him having a lengthly layoff before the Derby. If he can win while being close to the lead and overcome the layoff, Chitu may just as well win the Kentucky Derby.

17. Ring Weekend (50-1)

He ran a very good race in the Tampa Bay Derby, only to be defeated in the Calder Derby. I’m not quite sure what I think of him. He is another frontrunner who wants to go crazy fast in the beginning. This is definitely not the year to be a frontrunner. But his performance in the Tampa Bay Derby is not one to ignore. He was far, far on the lead and held on to win by about 4. However, I don’t think the Kentucky Derby is his game.

18. Midnight Hawk (50-1)

This horse is very talented and is getting gamer and gamer after each start. However, I don’t think a mile and a quarter is up his alley. He seems like he would be a beast at a mile. He is also shifting all around in the later stages of the race and, in the Kentucky Derby with 20 horses, he could cause a foul. I like Midnight Hawk a lot, but the Kentucky Derby just doesn’t look like his game.

19. Dance With Fate (50-1)

I have been following this horse for a while and like him a lot. But, just like Midnight Hawk, I don’t think the circumstances of the Derby fit his style. Either way, wether or not he is running in the Kentucky Derby has not been decided yet. He runs brilliantly on the turf and synthetics, but I think he just doesn’t like running on the dirt.

20. We Miss Artie (51-1)

My 20th pick has to go to We Miss Artie. Just like Dance With Fate, this horse is great on turf or synthetics. However, the dirt just isn’t for him. Every horse is different, and We Miss Artie has shown that the dirt isn’t his favorite running surface. If he could possibly switch his style, which I don’t think can happen at this point, I would give him 30-1. However, I think this horse can have a great career on the turf.

Social Inclusion arrived at Aqueduct earlier today and is prepping for the Wood Memorial (gr. 1) on April 5th.

Social Inclusion arrived at Aqueduct earlier today and is prepping for the Wood Memorial (gr. 1) on April 5th.

3 Picks

Here are my three picks for the big races going on today, March 29th, 2014. These are NOT trifectas, they are my list, in no particular order, of horses with the best chance of winning.

Besilu Stables Florida Derby ($1,000,000)

  • Cairo Prince
  • Constitution
  • General A Rod

I loved Cairo Prince in the Holy Bull, Constitution is undefeated, and General A Rod has the guts to last the distance. I just have the feeling that Wildcat Red would prefer a shorter distance.

Louisiana Derby ($1,000,000)
  • Intense Holiday
  • In Trouble
  • Albano

Intense Holiday has the good running style, In Trouble will not give up against a horse running alongside, and Albano is not going to let a closer get by easily.

Dubai World Cup ($10,000,000)

  • Ron The Greek
  • Ruler of the World (IRE)
  • Sanshaawes (SAF)

I was very impressed by Ron the Greek in the Jockey Club Gold Cup last year, and have heard a lot about the favorite, Ruler of the World, and Sanshaawes.

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Horse: Decklynn

Workout: Light Gallop

Distance: 10F (40 Laps)

Rank: [1/2]

Analysis

We warmed up in the stirrups, and worked on something new. This time we worked on correcting our horses lead. We jumped over an X and came out into a canter. Once in the canter, we would proceed on if our mount is on the correct lead and correct them if they are on the wrong lead.

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Horse: Decklynn

Workout: Light Gallop

Distance: 10F (40 Laps)

Rank: [1/2]

Analysis

We warmed up out of the stirrups again, and this time it came much more naturally. I seemed to have a better idea on what I was doing. Decklynn seemed a bit off, but nothing to cause concern. Later his owner noted that he is quite stiff.

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Horse: Decklynn

Workout: Light Gallop

Distance: 13F (50 Laps)

Rank: [1/2]

Analysis

On Wednesday, we warmed up without stirrups for the first time since late July / early August and the second time ever. It was challenging, but we got the hang of it. 

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Horse: Decklynn

Workout: Light Gallop

Distance: 9F (36 Laps)

Rank: [1/1]

Analysis

It was the usual that day. As I recall, we jumped a course and it was finally warm enough for the doors to to be open while we worked the horses.

Wood Memorial

Who will it be? Undefeated Samraat, or undefeated Social Inclusion? OR, will it be Samraats rival, Uncle Sigh, or a longshot?

Honor Code Off Derby Trail

Remsen winner and runner up in the Champagne Stakes, Honor Code, has been knocked off the Kentucky Derby trail with a slight ligament tear. Trained by Shug McGaughey, who saddled last years Kentucky Derby winner Orb, is left without a horse on the Derby trail now that Honor Code and his other star, Top Billing, have had major setbacks.

Nightmare Trip in Arkansas

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Hoppertunity (Red and Yellow Silks) passing Tapiture (Maroon and White Silks) deep stretch in the Rebel Stakes. (Kentuckyderby.com)

Yesterday was supposed to be the return of Tapiture with a victory for him in the Rebel Stakes. The result was instead a nightmare trip for 3 horses.

As the field bent the far turn and faced homeward, Tapiture, the favorite, was desperate for some running room. Strong Mandate and Hoppertunity were blocking his way. Finally, there was a small hole that opened in front of him and he went through. Then came the interesting part. Then Hoppertunity drifted in and bumped Tapiture into Strong Mandate. Moving at 40 MPH, you don’t want a 1,200 pound animal falling into another one. They continued to pursue their wrestling match down to the wire. Due to a nightmare trip and being knocked around, Tapiture faded to second. Hoppertunity won, but it was pretty much only because of his jockey, Mike Smith, who put up a brilliant ride. Both horses ran very well, but given a cleaner trip, it would have been all Tapiture.

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