Friday, May 5, 2017

Kentucky Derby 2017

Churchhill Downs – May 6, 2017
Race 12 - 6:46 PM (EST)
Kentucky Derby (Grade I)
Purse - $2,000,000
Distance - One And One Quarter Miles
Surface - Dirt

1 –  Lookin at Lee
2 – Thunder Snow                                                          
3 - Fast and Accurate                    
4 - Untrapped                                                  
5  - Always Dreaming
6 - State of Honor
7 - Girvin
8 - Hence
9 - Irap
10 - Gunnevera                                  
11 – Battle of Midway
12 – Sonneteer
13 – J Boys Echo
14 – Classic Empire
15 – McCraken
16 – Tapwrit
17 – Irish War Cry
18 – Gomley
19 – Practical Joke
20 – Patch
It’s going to be a curious Kentucky Derby this year (ESPECIALLY if it rains) – I believe the Best horse of this group is #17 Irish War Cry – I believe the most talented horse of this group is #14 Classic Empire – and I believe there’s a very good chance neither of them will win the Kentucky Derby…….if you just want my picks go to the bottom  -- here’s how I see the field.

#1 Lookin at Lee – much like his sire Lookin at Lucky I think he’ll get buried along the rail and won’t be able to escape the traffic – Lookin at Lucky managed to finish 6th in the KY Derby and then Won the Preakness – but I don’t think his son has as much talent.

#2 Thunder Snow – In the UAE Derby he broke from the 10th spot and managed to be a pace setter – he finished with plenty of endurance……IF this horse isn’t jet lagged from the trip from the Middle East he would be a very real threat in this race – however I’ve never seen a UAE Winner acclimate in time to make a solid run at the roses…….he’s worth a $2 insurance bet….but history tells me he’ll come out flat.

#3 Fast and Accurate was the Spiral Stakes winner – it was a very solid last outing – however this horse is facing a much better level of talent than the groups he’s won against.

He just couldn't wait to write
Don't Sleep on Always Dreaming
#4 Untrapped – 1 win in 6 races – (6th in the Arkansas Derby)

#5 Always Dreaming – Winner of the Florida Derby, and the 5/1 horse I think will steal the Kentucky Derby. This horse was Grand Sired by Empire Maker and sired by Bodemeister – Empire Maker Grand Sired Grand Slam winner American Pharoah – and Bodemeister finished 2nd in the KY Derby and Preakness in 2012. Don’t SLEEP on Always Dreaming.

**When I began writing this - Always Dreaming wasn’t the favorite – now he is….so, so much for “stealing” the KY Derby.

Florida Derby (Below) – also racing (#6 State Of Honor, #10 Gunnevera)

#7 Girvin – Louisiana Derby Winner, and he’s won 3 out of 4 lifetime races – and he is an absolute STEAL at 21/1……however his racing style isn’t great for this Kentucky Derby. With a enough help this horse could shock the world, but I just don’t think he’s going to get enough help. Could end up in the top 3.

#8 Hence – Sunland Derby Winner -- and Hence scares the HELL out of me. He’s only won 2 out of 6 races, he hasn’t raced against quality talent – and he hasn’t raced in 41 days – however he has great closing ability, and he has the perfect starting position to set himself up for a quality trip. At 15/1 he’s another steal – I just don’t know if he has the talent or the seasoning –would love to have seen one more race out of him.

#9 Irap – 1 victory in 8 attempts and it was his last race The Blue Grass Stakes. I’m not a big fan of the Blue Grass Stakes as a Prep Race – Irap has talent, but I just don’t think he has enough to pull off a victory here.

I don’t like the Blue Grass Stakes as an indicator for the Kentucky Derby – that particular race has a strange history of Great horses running poorly and often being beaten by lesser opponents – to me it’s a throw away race –

However the Blue Grass Stakes also involved:
#19 Practical Joke (2nd)
#15 McCraken (3rd)
#13 J Boys Echo (4th)
#16 Tapwrit (5th)

Let’s move ahead to:

#14 Classic Empire – (also Grand Sired by Empire Maker – but Sired By Pioneer of the Nile – Pappa to American Pharoah) will likely be the favorite in this race.  The Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Champion has won 5 out of 7 races.

The two horses who defeated him are – Irish War Cry (Holy Bull Stakes) and Practical Joker (Hopeful Stakes) – however there’s MORE to the story of why, or how he was defeated.

Classic Empire – has Experience, Undisputed Talent, Amazing Closing Speed and…..well, he’s also been described as a “bit of a nut”.

Per the Daily Racing Forum:

His behavior in training first became unpredictable almost a year ago. In the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes last summer, a race in which he was favored, Classic Empire pulled a stunt rarely seen on the racetrack, doing a U-turn a few strides into the race and coming to a dead stop after throwing his rider to the Saratoga dirt – Winner Practical Joker.

Also: “Everyone wants to make him out to be this bad boy, but he’s not,” Mark Casse said. “That’s not him. Now, he does see things that others don’t see, but that doesn’t make him bad.”

Also he occasionally refuses to Workout….basically making him the Allen Iverson of Horse Racing.

Image result for allen iverson practice meme
Not a race.....not a RACE - We're talking about Practice?
 His loss in the Holy Bull is attributed to an Abscess on his Hoof – which considering his strong Arkansas Derby makes sense.

See Arkansas Derby also racing – (#1 Lookin At Lee, #4 Untrapped, and #12 Sonneteer)

Classic Empire “could” be both the Wild Card and Favorite of the Kentucky Derby….let that sink in.

#15 McCraken – has won 4 out of 5 lifetime races – his only loss was at the Blue Grass Stakes (which again I’m tossing aside) – He has talent, I really like that he’s just off of Classic Empire’s shoulder – it’s a good spot for him --  I just haven’t seen him win against the kind of quality in this race. He needs help, but he certainly could surprise – I don’t love his 5/1 odds here though.

#17 Irish War Cry – he’s also won 4 out of 5 lifetime races – he was sired by Curlin (one of my favorites of all time) and in my opinion, he “Should” be the horse to beat in this race……however that 1 loss…..that 1 loss has baffled many experts.

His one loss was a 7th place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes – this is at the same track (Gulfstream Park) where he defeated a gimpy Classic Empire just the race before.

Maybe it was just an off day….you just hate to bet big on a horse that has had that “OFF” of a day.

Also every time I see this horse's name I start singing.....IN THE NAME -- OF LOVE!!! 

Image result for u2 singing
I'm sure I do not look as cool as Bono when singing it.....or as on key

#18 Gormley – is the Santa Anita Derby Winner – he has solid Closing Speed - -The Santa Anita Derby has produced 2 out of the last 5 Kentucky Derby Winners.  And he is lifetime 4 wins out of 6 races.

He’s currently going off at 26/1 – and he’s definitely a horse that could also shock the world with a little help.

#19 Practical Joke – he’s going off at 31/1 – I think he has a solid chance of landing in the Top 3 – He hasn’t won a race since Oct. 2016 (3 wins / 6 attempts), however he’s also never finished worse than 3rd place – and he’s raced against the best horses in the field.

#20 Patch – He’s going to be “THE” Underdog story in this race – his post position is out in the parking lot AND he’s a One-Eyed Horse.  He has 1 victory in 3 attempts – he currently sits at 30-1 and while it would be the Feel good story – let me get my script to Disney -- History in the Making Kentucky Derby….I wouldn’t buy into the hype. At 50/1 I might be interested.

**Here’s how I see the race –

Lookin At Lee gets immediately buried on the rail – IF (and it’s a big IF) Thunder Snow is here to race I think he jumps out and sets the pace…..if this happens, nail biting will commence.

Always Dreaming (hopefully with a good jump at the gate) will join Thunder Snow at the top of the pack.

OR Thunder Snow will be dead tired and Always Dreaming will be on the Rail and in command of the early pace.

What I’m most curious about is WHERE Classic Empire will be when they hit the first turn? He may reserve himself and drop back towards the back half of the field --- I wouldn’t be surprised if McCraken and Irish War Cry do their best to stalk Classic Empire and keep him boxed in.

There is a chance that Classic Empire will fire off and attempt to run closer to the top of the field – if he does that McCraken and Irish War Cry will likely follow – but they won’t necessarily be able to box him into as much traffic.

There’s usually “some” horse that decides to go all LEEROY JENKINS and fire out of the gate at an unsustainable pace – usually ownership has seemingly decided that firing off fast and praying for miracle endurance is the only way they’ll win.  (I’m thinking Fast and Accurate, Battle of Midway, State of Honor or Irap).

Image result for leeroy jenkins meme

I’ll be looking for Girvin. Gomley, maybe Gunnevera and Hence to settle in somewhere in the middle of the field – all of these horses should be able to run “their race” – but they’ll likely need the Early Pace Setters to burn out and fade – and hope that Classic Empire is in traffic…….the same traffic they’ll need to avoid.

Coming out of the final turn – I see Always Dreaming in the lead, and hopefully picking up steam – at this point it will depend on who navigated traffic best – If Classic Empire gets daylight….and he’s not crazy…you know at the moment…..than I think he’ll have enough power to win.

However if he’s battling traffic – I like Always Dreaming for the win…..and a crazy finish for 2nd (Irish War Cry, Classic Empire, McCraken, Hence, Girvin, or Gomley) 

Closing Speed likes:  Always Dreaming, McCraken, Classic Empire, Irish War Cry

If I’m betting $34 on this race I like:

$1 Trifecta Box: 5,14,17,18 = $24
$1 Exacta: 5, 14 with 2,7,8,10,15 = $10

Some Longshots -- (If there is rain - scratch the $34 bet – and I would consider betting $27 on Longshots – as follows)

$2 Win - #11 Battle of Midway – (Especially if it’s raining)
$5 Win - #18 Gormley – (If raining)
$5 Win - #19 Practical Joke (if raining)
$5 Win -   #7 Girvin – (if odds are higher than 20/1)
$10 Win - #10 Gunnevera – (if odds are higher than 15/1)

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