Friday, May 4, 2012

Kentucky Derby 2012 - All bets are in!

Kentucky Derby 2012 – Part IV

In my last entry I wrote about the “long-shots” today I’m going to focus on eight of the more “favored” horses. However if you just want to skip to my picks those will be at the bottom.

I think we’re in for a very special Kentucky Derby this year for the exceptional reason that we haven’t seen the winner of the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile entered in the Kentucky Derby for the past five years – (Street Sense 2006-2007), in fact most horses who ran competitively in the past few Breeder’s Cup Juveniles didn’t even make it to the KY Derby – And for the 2012 Kentucky Derby we have the top five horses in a rematch – for horse racing it doesn’t get much better than this!

If you go back to Nov. 5 2011 – Breeder’s Cup Juvenile – here at Churchill Downs - this is how they finished:

1st  - Hansen
2nd – Union Rags
3rd – Creative Cause
4th – Dullahan
5th – Take Charge Indy

These horses are of course among the favorites – and here are the likely top eight horses come post time!

Both (currently) at 12-1 odds the top two horses out of California’s Santa Anita Derby, (2nd place) #8 Creative Cause & (Winner) #19 I’ll Have Another, are two horses I’m automatically scratching out as finishing well in this year’s KY Derby.

#8 Creative Cause has talent and a fantastic post position, but in my opinion he simply lacks a killer instinct. Additionally California prepped horses have simply failed to be much of a factor (over the past few years) come Triple Crown time. I don’t think Creative Cause has anything better than a 4th place finish in him.

#19 – I’ll Have Another – Better killer instinct, similar California prep, horrible post for this horse!!  I believe he’ll either go for the early lead – and in doing so spend so much energy going wide, he fades late or he runs counter to what got him here and finds he can’t close as well as a number of other horses.

I believe I'll Have Another needs the early lead and with these two options he’s not going to get it. Either way I think I’ll Have Another finishes middle of the pack (10th) or worse. I believe the odds on this horse should be closer to 20-1 / 30-1.

Speaking of early lead – I mentioned #3 Take Charge Indy in my entry yesterday as a longshot (15-1 current odds). However with the recent KY Derby success of his jockey Calvin Borel, and a great post for this early speedster – I won’t be surprised if Take Charge Indy becomes a 12-1 or as low as 8-1 horse for this race. 

Take Charge Indy will need to break out of the gate like a cannonball and keep Bodemeister and Hansen from completely overtaking him and pinning him behind them and into the rail. However if Borel gets this horse near the lead and a clear shot at the wire in the final stretch – he could make things very interesting! At 15-1 – I believe he’s a little under bet right now.

If only Hansen could self promote!!
Speaking of under bet --- current odds have #14 Hansen at 10-1, which in my opinion is a little disrespectful , because the last time Twin Spires gave him 10-1 odds he won the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile – what no love for the Champ?!?

Their thinking may be that Hansen is perhaps the best mile 1/16th horse on the track – problem is the Kentucky Derby is a mile and a quarter!  His two biggest victories (Breeder’s Cup Juvenile & Gotham Stakes) were both at 1 1/16th – his most recent second place finish (to Dullahan) in the Blue Grass Stakes was at 1 1/8th.

Coming out of the 14th spot Hansen will most likely challenge the early leaders.  And as they hit the final turn, he’ll begin to pass any lesser horses who enjoyed an early spotlight but have no will to finish (Trinniberg, maybe Take Charge Indy).  

And my guess is at 1 1/16 th – he and perhaps Union Rags and Bodemeister will be dueling it out….the question is what happens to these three horses in the next 3/16th of a mile?

Will Hansen find his endurance in May and follow the exact path of  Street Sense in 2007 (Street Sense also finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes before his Kentucky Derby Victory). At 10-1 odds this horse could be a steal!

My father always said you don't get to disrespect the Champ, until you've beaten him....which brings us to ---

You took my Pride, my Dignity & my Money
Mine That Bird!!
#5 Dullahan – (half brother, to my nemesis Mine That Bird) – enjoyed a late rally and victory over Hansen in the Blue Grass Stakes, so he’s proven he can handle additional distance. His style of racing is to hang back and rally late – so the early lead is of no consequence to him. His post position is great and at 8-1 he’s got some good looking odds. This is the horse who could fly by the early leaders in the last furlong and be the “Where did he come from horse”…..I like this horse to challenge for the top three spots I just think they’ll be too much traffic for him to win this Saturday.

#6 Bodemeister  (currently the favorite at 4-1) – this horse potentially has “everything”. He has a fantastic post postion, he has the ability to grab the early lead,  which would help him avoid getting caught up in traffic in the final turn  – and in the Arkansas Derby he not only handled the distance – he picked up steam and exploded down the stretch --- there wasn’t even a horse close to him when he hit the wire.

Strangely Sensitve Cheetah wishes
we'd change the topic of
The problem is….it was really just “one” race. He’s only had two wins out of four races – and his inexperience could be a factor.  My biggest concerns for Bodemeister is that if one of the early speeders sets an impossible pace (anything under 23 seconds, certainly anything under 22 seconds, in the first ¼ mile) Bodemeister could fight too hard to keep up, and have nothing in the tank late -- i.e. get lost in a speed trap, or be premature.

***Yeah I was going to have a Giraffe Mascot and I still may, but this Cheetah cracks me up -- you can post below if he's a keeper or not?

#15 Gemologist (currently going off at 6-1) enters the KY Derby undefeated in six races, and with two of his victories here at Churchill Downs. Three of his victories were over solid distances and really this horse has done everything to properly prepare for the biggest race of his life.  His only two negatives are he doesn’t have the best post for this race (#15) and he “really” hasn’t beaten anyone.  His biggest victory was his most recent in the Wood Memorial over (#11) Alpha – and Alpha didn’t have a great trip and only lost by a nose!

If the early pace wears out the early leaders and Gemologist positions himself well coming out of the final turn – I think he could finish in the top three – however I believe Gemologist will finish between 4th to 8th place when it’s all said and done.

The Rags in Union Rags is a
reference to dixieland music
And finally we come to perhaps the most talented prospect in the field #4 Union Rags. Out of six career races Union Rags has two losses --- the problem is those losses were in the biggest races of his life

(Finishing 2nd in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and finishing a driving 3rd in the Florida Derby). 

This begs the questions –

Was the Breeder’s Cup loss just due to youth, and inexperience? Was the Florida Derby loss just due to a little bad positioning that kept him from closing that race out?

I’ve seen Triple Crown contenders just come out flat and uninspired in prep races before – but I don’t think that’s the case with Union Rags in the Florida Derby. I believe the way that race played out didn’t offer him a chance to win it. He got held up in traffic and just didn’t have enough ground to overtake the two leaders in that race – however his driving rally made me believe he just needed another 100 yards or so…..and he’ll have that 100 yards or so at Churchill this Saturday.

Or does this horse have a knack for not being able to win the big races – for whatever reason?? Good and bad luck is a strange phenomenon in sports - but you know it when you see it.

Union Rags will have a solid post with the #4 spot – he’ll run with the bulk of the pack behind the leaders and then he’ll need to find an open lane away from traffic coming out of the final turn. Without question I think he has the skill to finish in the top 3 – but he’ll need some good luck (which has been elusive for him so far) to pull out a victory.

In closing I believe (if the weather holds up) we’re in for one of two finishes.

1 – Bodemeister takes the early lead, explodes in the final stretch and wins by a few lengths over a hard closing Dullahan and/or Union Rags. Bodemeister looks dominant but his challengers look poised for round 2 in the Preakness. And in my opinion the Preakness is where we find out who really is the best three year old in the country.

Hold your tickets!
2 – It ends being the closest KY Derby we’ve seen in years (perhaps ever) – with as many as five horses contending for victory at the wire. It ends being a HOLD ALL TICKETS – millions of dollars hanging in the balance over a photo finish....that will seemingly last forever.

As a racing fan – I’m rooting for Bodemeister – if he can build on his Arkansas Derby victory – then he could be a “monster” talent. I would also enjoy watching Hansen bounce back and pull out another big Churchill Downs victory.

As a fan I’m being boring: 
Closing Speed likes: Bodemeister / Union Rags / Dullahan

However as a bettor – you’re looking for great odds – so here’s how I’d bet $20.

$ 4 – Take Charge Indy to win
$ 2 – Done Talking to win
$ 2 – Alpha  to win

$6 Exacta box – Dullahan / Union Rags / Alpha
$6 Exacta box – Union Rags / Take Charge Indy / Hansen

**If Union Rags ends up being the favorite, I would probably substitute him for  Bodemeister in the Exactas.


  1. I'm a Bode and Union Rags fan, so it's hard to argue with any of this, so my only quibble is: wasn't Strangely Sensitive Jaguar a CHEETAH in your last post? He looks like a cheetah to me. Just sayin'.

    Okay okay, I said it was a quibble. I still love the Strangely Sensitive er, Big Cat.

    Any way you look at it, it's going to be one of the most interesting Derby's in recent years. Can't wait!

  2. Strangely Sensitive (and possibly confused) Cheetah?? For some reason I typed Jaguar and then realized the mistake later.