Official Kentucky Derby Thread

Winner of the Kentucky Derby


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How to Bet

Location: Churchill Downs

When: Post time is scheduled for 6:46 p.m. Eastern.

How to watch: Race coverage begins at noon on NBC Sports Network, and at 2:30 on NBC. Bob Costas and Mike Tirico will host NBC’s coverage. The coverage will also be streamed on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

Length: The race is 1 1/4 miles long.

Weather: The National Weather Service is forecasting an 80 percent chance of rain in Louisville on Saturday, with a high near 69. Precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch are possible. The Derby has been run over a sloppy or muddy track 15 times, including last year.



Who To Bet:
The TLDR version: Mendelssohn – Vino Rosso – Justify

Live longshots: Enticed, Promises Fulfilled

The point of Derby Day is to drink insane amounts of bourbon, sing My Old Kentucky Home at the top of your lungs, and be sound asleep on the couch by 8:00. So remember, I know nothing, and any predictions herein that resemble actual results are pure coincidence. If you like a horse, for whatever reason, bet it. Did you really need that $2 anyway?



To get you acquainted with the field, let’s take a spin through it, in reverse order of interest.



The “I’ve Always Wanted to Have a Horse Run in the Derby, and Now I Do” Division



8. Lone Sailor (50-1) – He’s won once in 8 tries, and that was a long time ago. You could make the argument that he’s improving (he’s working well over the Churchill track), but there are 20 horses in this race, and you have to start throwing them out somewhere. This is my somewhere.



10. My Boy Jack (30-1) – Not my boy. He isn’t very fast, doesn’t usually win, and is coming off a short layoff from a tough race. Otherwise, this is a great idea.



13. Bravazo (50-1) – His best win was as a long shot; otherwise, he hasn’t done much. Not seeing it.



2. Free Drop Billy (30-1) – The jockey is Robby Albarado. I’ll quote my daughter’s favorite phrase on this one: “Nope, nope, nope, nope, nooooooo.” Under no circumstances will a Robby Albarado-ridden horse have my money on him (he hates me, I hate him – we’re both good with that). Next.



15. Instilled Regard (50-1) – Congrats on making the derby. Enjoy the free cocktails in the owner’s box.



1. Firenze Fire (50-1) – If this race were run last October, he might have a legitimate shot. But (checks calendar). . . nope, it’s not last October. As a 2-year old, he beat Good Magic, Enticed, and Free Drop Billy, but since then, he’s not really gotten any better. I don’t think the mile and a quarter suits him (he hasn’t been running on at the end of any of the prep races – he’s really a sprinter), and he’s in the dreaded 1-hole. Pass.



20. Combatant (50-1) – Not sure he’s going to love the distance, and he’s not really impressed in any of his preps. He hasn’t disgraced himself (hitting the board every time out), but there’s nothing in his form that makes me think he’s actually got a shot to win this. But if you want to take a stab, vaya con Dios.



The “If You Really, Really Squint, I Guess You Can See It” Division



4. Flameaway (30-1) – This is a solid horse, who should have a nice career, but I don’t think is good enough to compete here. He’ll run an honest race, and deserves his shot at it – he’s won 5 times. And his best, if everything breaks perfectly, is probably enough to hit the board – he did finish 2nd to Good Magic in the Blue Grass. But I still think it’s a stretch. This horse screams 11th place finisher to me.



17. Solomini (30-1) – He was really solid at 2, but has been mediocre at 3. Kinda runs like a spaz, but there is some talent there. If he puts it all together, he could hit the board, but I’ll go elsewhere for my live longshots.



19. Noble Indy (30-1) – He doesn’t like to leave the gate, and breaking out of the 19 hole, could find himself far behind early. Not sure he has the ability to make up that much ground. He’s not a bad horse, and 30-1 is more than fair, but it feels like he might hear his name called at the start, and then never again.



9. Hofburg (20-1) – Coming off a second to Audible in the Florida Derby, where he was clearly better than the rest after a crummy trip (but clearly not as good as Audible). Like Justify, he’s only raced 3 times, so experience is an issue. Bill Mott is the trainer – he’s great, and he wouldn’t run a Derby entrant if he didn’t think he had a shot. You have to believe he will get better, but maybe this is just a step too far right now. He’s a son of Tapit, my all-time favorite horse, so I’ll use him somewhere for sentimental reasons. 20-1 is a bit short, though.



The “These Guys Are Good, Just Not for Me” Division



11. Bolt d’Oro (8-1) – You know how something can be talked about as being underrated so much, that they actually end up overrated? I think Bolt d’Oro is becoming that horse. He was really good at 2, then a lackluster (but certainly not terrible) 3-year old campaign has taken a lot of the shine off him. He ran 2nd to Justify in the Santa Anita, and it was a good effort. But perhaps he was just an early bloomer, and his best days are behind him (hey, it happens to us all). There’s a lot of buzz about him this week, and he will probably be the “wise guy” horse for this race (some guy with a vowel at the end of his name will have a tip from a guy who knows a guy), and he absolutely has a chance to hit the board, even win this. But unless he magically discovers his form from last year, he’s a cut below. Be careful of taking short odds on a horse like that.



16. Magnum Moon (6-1) – One of our unraced-at-2 horses. If I had to pick one (Justify or Magnum Moon), I think Justify is better. Moon’s results are nothing to sneeze at – he’s won all 4 times he’s raced, from different spots – but he really showed his inexperience in the Arkansas Derby by drifting all the way over the track. He won’t be able to do that in Louisville and win. Not sure the horses he beat in Arkansas were that great – though Quip, who is skipping the Derby for the Preakness, is decent – so I can’t see 6-1. Wouldn’t shock me, but doesn’t get my sugars up.



5. Audible (8-1) – I want to like this horse more than I do. He’s improved steadily since his debut, and his last two wins in Florida (Holy Bull, Florida Derby) were very solid. He’s won from off the pace, and near the lead. He should be fit coming into the race. So why can’t I get on his bandwagon? I don’t think he’s really beaten anyone in Florida – that group seems a cut below the rest. His works are meh, and his regular jockey, Johnny Velazquez, chose to ride Vino Rosso instead. Plus, I think his odds are too short. Give me 10-1 or more, and I might reconsider. But for now, leaving him out. Good horse, though.



The “You’re Dang Right They’re on My Tickets at Those Odds” Division



3. Promises Fulfilled (30-1) – Hmmm. . . here’s a live long shot. Let’s see, he’s beaten Good Magic this year, will likely get the lead, dumped Robby Albarado as his jockey for this one (yay!), is the son of Shackleford who got me PAID in the 2011 Preakness, has a win over this track, and, as noted, will pay you 30 American dollars for every buck you bet on him. But you need to ignore some ugliness though – if he gets into a speed duel, he’s likely cooked, and will all the speed in this race let him get an easy lead? His last prep was a horror show (he was so far behind, they about had to pull him off the track so they could set up for the next race), and outside of his win over Good Magic, there’s not a lot of quality there. An interesting flyer, though.



12. Enticed (30-1) – I am. . . Enticed. He’s hit the board in 4 out of 5 graded stakes, and he was the favorite in 3 of them – so everyone recognizes his talent, and he’s delivered. So why the long odds? He just may not be fast enough. But I think he’s improving, and his second last out in the Wood was solid. If he’s anywhere near these odds, he’s going on my tickets somewhere.



The “Here’s Where I’m Thinking Serious Cash” Division



6. Good Magic (12-1) – Ah, our aforementioned 2-year old champion. The weaknesses first – his first race as a 3-year old was a bit of a dud, and he worked really hard to beat Flameaway in the Blue Grass, who I don’t think is that great. That’s all true. But. . . he was clearly the best in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile last fall to win the 2-year old honors. He’s steadily improved this year after the layoff, and the 3rd race in a cycle is classic for being the one at which a horse peaks. His sire Curlin shows he can get the distance, and he doesn’t need the lead (or a ridiculous pace) to score. I think 12-1 is a steal on this horse. Should be sitting right off the lead when they turn for home, and have a great shot and getting home. He’s definitely going in my super’s, and I can absolutely see him winning this.



7. Justify (3-1) – Holy schniekees, this horse is fast. If you’re betting on the winner of a race, fast is good. Real good. He’s also huge. He’s the horse equivalent of an NFL defensive end – a unique combination of speed and strength. The Bengals should draft him, though he’d probably get suspended shortly thereafter. But I digress. Here’s where I start overthinking this race: he’s only had 3 races, none at age 2. Let’s talk about the Curse of Apollo for a second – it’s not that it’s some mystical thing like a billy goat. It’s just that asking a horse to go from never racing, to winning one of the toughest races in the world, in the matter of a few months, is a big ask. How will he deal with the crowd? Does he have the seasoning to deal with cavalry charge to start the race, and the stamina to withstand multiple challenges? Curlin, one of the great horses of all time, couldn’t do it. I just can’t see the value at 3-1. But when he wins, and I’m looking at all my losing tickets saying “I should have just bet on the fastest horse,” feel free to tell me you told me so.



18. Vino Rosso (12-1) – I like this horse. A lot. He ran a great race in the Wood Memorial, which was the first time he ran with blinkers. In his prior efforts, he seemed distracted, so this was probably a good equipment change. Turned in an absolute bullet in his last work at Churchill, so he’s in great form. Gets Johnny V, who had his pick of Derby mounts. And I know a certain person who picks based on name will want to bet on him (Hi, honey!). Great value at 12-1.



14. Mendelssohn (5-1) – If Justify is the fastest horse in this race, Mendelssohn is not far behind, if he’s behind at all. He won his last race – the UAE Derby – by 18.5 lengths. You have arguably the best trainer and jockey in the world – Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore – in his corner. He’s got no problem with the distance (the UAE Derby was only a 1/16th shorter than the Derby), and he should be able to adapt to any pace. There will be one piece of late breaking information to add to this puzzle – Rayya, the horse who ran 2nd in the UAE Derby, is running today (Friday) in the Kentucky Oaks. If she runs credibly, that flatters Mendelssohn’s performance immensely. The only knock on him is where his last prep was – Dubai. Horses coming out of that race have never run well at the Derby (last year, Thunder Snow, who I kinda liked, decided to impersonate a bucking bronco coming out of the gate. Not good.) It’s a legitimate criticism, and I’d love some longer odds, but fundamentally, I think he’s the best horse in the race. When all else fails, go with that. He’s my pick.
 
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#2
Race #1 (7 Furlongs) - 10:31am EST:
1st - Crosswalk
2nd - Honorable Treasure
3rd - Once on Whiskey

Race #2 (1 Mile) - 11:03am EST:
1st - Big Gray Rocket
2nd - Gray Sky
3rd - Summer Luck

Race #3 (1 1/16 Mile) - 11:34am EST:
1st - Lookin At Lee
2nd - Sonneteer
3rd - Irish Freedom

Race #4 (1 Mile) - 12:06pm EST:
1st - Irish Territory
2nd - Midnight Tea Time
3rd - Zero Gravity

Race #5 (1 Mile) - 12:38pm EST:
1st - McCraken
2nd - Behavioral Bias
3rd - Dazzling Gem

Race #6 (7 Furlongs) - 1:16pm EST:
1st - American Gal
2nd - Ivy Bell
3rd - Lewis Bay

Race #7 (1 Mile) - 1:58pm EST:
1st - Proctor's Ledge
2nd - On Leave
3rd - Dream Awhile

Race #8 (7 Furlongs) - 2:48pm EST:
1st - Limousine Liberal
2nd - Warrior's Club
3rd - Awesome Slew

Race #9 (1 1/16 Mile) - 3:40pm EST:
1st - Maraud
2nd - Captivating Moon
3rd - Untamed Domain

Race #10 (1 Mile) - 4:31pm EST:
1st - Funny Duck (30-1 underdog!)
2nd - New York Central
3rd - Givemeaminit

Race #11 (1 1/8 Mile) - 5:28pm EST:
1st - Yoshida
2nd - Beach Patrol
3rd - Synchrony

Race #12 (1 1/4 Mile) - 6:53pm EST:
1st - Justify
2nd - Good Magic
3rd - Audible

Race #13 (1 1/16 Mile) - 7:53pm EST:
1st - King Zachary
2nd - Determinant
3rd - Giant Honor

Race #14 (1 Mile) - 8:23pm EST:
1st - Limation
2nd - Locomotion
3rd - Elusive Hero
 
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