2010 Kentucky Derby Contenders Analysis
by Kenneth Strong of Predictem.com
The Kentucky Derby is always very tough to handicap and often takes more than one session of digging into the past performances while also reviewing the replay films of the Derby preps. The race is even tougher to handicap this year with the favorites drawing poor posts and rain predicted for Derby Day. Weve already watched all the prep races but well be looking at a few of them again on Friday night, as we start trying to separate the pretenders from the contenders, but heres our first look on paper as a primer for the race in post position order.
Lookin At Lucky (3-1) The deserving favorite is tough as nails and always tries his best. Ran huge to win the Rebel Stakes in his first start off a three-month layoff before finishing a troubled third in the Santa Anita Derby. That prep may have been a blessing in disguise, as the race didnt take too much out of him and his recent work over a wet Churchill Downs strip was a good one. Trainer Bob Baffert has won the Derby three times and he takes the blinkers off for this race, an angle at which he scores at a 29 percent clip. Acknowledged by most as the best horse in the field, he appears to be sitting on a big race but his rail post worries us. If superior rail rider Calvin Borel was aboard this guy we would be all over him.
Ice Box (10-1) A true rallier in a field loaded with speed, Ice Box also has proven Kentucky Derby winning trainer Nick Zito in his corner and appears to be peaking perfectly for this race. Despite the fact that he won the Florida Derby, were still not quite sure of his quality, but it might not matter, as this race will certainly set up for his late run and he does have enough pedigree to get the distance.
Noble’s Promise (12-1) On the surface it appears he threw a rare clunker in his last race, the Arakansas Derby, after six straight excellent efforts, including two narrow losses to Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky. But the Arkansas Derby was just his second start off a three-month layoff after a near miss in the Rebel Stakes, and he may have bounced. He also didnt get a great start in the Arkansas Derby and had some trouble early. It looked to us like he made a bit of run in the stretch before his rider figured out he wasnt going to be close. He then simply galloped home, saving something for the Derby. Some say his pedigree wont get the Derby distance and that hes already peaked. Were not so sure, and this horse always gives his best when on his game. If he can work out a trip behind the speed he can make a bid in the stretch and his chances of winning are probably a little better than his 12-1 odds indicate.
Super Saver (15-1) Makes his third start off the layoff in the Derby and looks like hes sitting on a big race but he does like to run close to the lead and the Derby pace will likely be very fast. If jockey Calvin Borel can harness his speed early, expect him to head straight to the rail and wait for an opening turning for home. If he gets involved in the early pace battle he has no chance, but we just cant imagine why he would do that. Borel has won this race from the rail before when not on the best horse, and that gives this horse a shot at all the money. Forget his last race, when he couldnt get by Line of David in the stretch. He wasnt quite ready for that effort. Working well and we love his pedigree.
Line of David (30-1) One of the speed horses in the Derby, Line of David is expected to be part of the early pace, which will compromise his chances. Gets top California jock Raphael Bejarano, but that wont help in a duel with this bunch. He will not get an easy early lead and open up like he did to win the Arkansas Derby in his last. To his credit he did dig in to win that race, but this is further and the horses are faster and classier. Trainer John Sadler is solid.
Stately Victor (30-1) Powered away late to win the Blue Grass by four lengths in his last at 40-1 in a way that suggested he was perfectly set up to win that race and might have been pointing for it all along after two average starts on the turf. Many say that Blue Grass synthetic form doesnt transfer to the dirt at Churchill Downs, but in this case it just might. This horse appears to be peaking at the right time, he will be coming from midpack, he has strong stamina pedigree, he has run a good race over a wet track at Saratoga, and his trainer Michael Maker is excellent. Well be watching the film on this one again.
American Lion (30-1) An average speed horse with a top speed jockey who wont be able to help him in here. Our thoughts are that he will either be battling for the lead or close to it, making a mild run at some point before fading late. He benefitted from perfect lone-speed trip to win the Illinois Derby over a soft bunch. We didnt like him when he lost at lower odds to Caracortado in the R B Lewis at Santa Anita and we still dont like him. If he wins it will be without our money.
Dean’s Kitten (50-1) – Were not quite sure what to make of this horse and will be watching the replays again just to make sure were not missing something. On paper he appears to be slightly outclassed. The horses he defeated in his last, the Lanes End, came back to run poorly, and he hasnt proven himself on the dirt. He does have some things going for him however. His trainer Michael Maker is one of the best, he looks like hell get the distance, he has the right running style, his jockey Robbie Albarado is solid and his Beyer Speed Figures are steadily improving. Longshot sleeper maybe?
Make Music for Me (50-1) – Another huge longshot who could slip into the superfecta but who has yet to prove himself on the dirt. Gets top California jock Joel Rosario and did run second twice last year to Derby favorite Lookin At Lucky. His comeback race on the grass in the Pasadeana at Santa Anita was excellent. He then he regressed in the Blue Grass, which is often not a good measure of true ability when it comes to the Kentucky Derby because of the synthetic surface its run over. His Beyer Speed Figures are a cut below the best in here at this stage but he does have the running style to take advantage of a hot pace as he makes his third start off a layoff, which is often the best race in a horses form cycle.
Paddy O’ Prado (20-1) Unproven on dirt on paper but his latest work was stellar and he does get three-time Derby winning jock Kent Desormeaux. Four of his last five starts have been on the turf, where he was always competitive, and he transferred that form to the synthetic in the Blue Grass with a good second place finish. Hes been running close to the pace lately and that style wont help his chances in the Derby, but he has proven he can sit off the pace and make a late run. In excellent form and working well, he cant be discounted.
Devil May Care (10-1) The only filly in the race, she gets blinkers on for the Derby, an angle which produces 24 percent winners for trainer Todd Pletcher, but we still cant figure out why hes running her in here when there are easier spots. She is one of only three horses in the Derby to have cracked the triple-digit Beyer mark along with Sydneys Candy and Jackson Bend, earning that number winning the Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream Park in her last start, but she still appears to be learning how to run and these will be the best horses shes faced in her career. Her morning line of 10-1 seems low, but her best race on paper gives her a shot at the superfecta with a perfect trip.
Conveyance (12-1) A solid speed horse who can take the steam out of anyone else who wants to run with him early, his running style will likely be compromised by the other early speed in the Derby. Had things all his own way up front in his last start, the Sunland Derby going a mile and an eighth, but couldnt hold on late. Has been working well and has three-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert in his corner, but still looks like a rabbit for stablemate Looking At Lucky. If youre looking for a crazy longshot angle, Mine that Bird finished fourth in the Sunland Derby last year and came back to win the Derby.
Jackson Bend (15-1) The little horse that could, Jackson Bend gives his best every time he runs, but in his last few starts he has faced former Derby favorite Eskendereya and he could do no better than well-beaten seconds. Thats okay, as nobody else could run with Eskendereya either. He usually sits close to the pace, which wont help him if the pace is fast in the Derby, but we expect him to at least make some kind of bid in late turn. Trainer Nick Zito has won the Derby twice, which is the best angle we can find for this horse. Well be using him in the superfectas as a proven tryer.
Mission Impazible (20-1) – Didnt beat anything great winning the Louisiana Derby in his last but his form is certainly moving in the right direction and he has an excellent stamina pedigree. Has been sitting relatively close in his recent races and will likely have to come from further off the pace than usual in the Derby. We get the feeling this horse might be totally overlooked on the tote board and that hell be worth including in the superfectas just for that reason. Defeated by fellow Derby entrants Dublin and Conveyance two starts ago, he still has to prove his class, but he is improving and he has a second and third on wet tracks, which makes him a must include on tickets if the track is wet on Derby Day with capable jockey Maragh in the saddle.
Discreetly Mine (30-1) Another horse who will be part of the early pace in the Derby, he was beaten by Mission Impazible in his last and appears up against it. He does have enough pedigree to get the mile and a quarter of the Derby but its difficult to imagine how he can work out a good trip with all the other speed in here. Crazy angles? He has a romping win at Saratoga over a wet track on his form, which would help him if the track is wet on Derby Day, and the jockey/trainer combo of Pletcher and Castellano wins at a 44 percent clip.
Awesome Act (10-1) – After this horse won the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in his first start back off a four-month layoff we tried to beat Eskendereya with him in the Wood Memorial but he finished third beaten almost 10 lengths, losing second place to Jackson Bend late. It later came out that he had lost a shoe early in the Wood, which may have been the reason he didnt fire his best shot down the stretch in that race. This former European runner has a top trainer in Jeremy Noseda, he has some class in his pedigree in the form of Deputy Minister and he has the right running style. If he improves he has a chance to win the Derby under solid jock Julien Leparoux.
Dublin (12-1) This horse has been a disappointment for us in his last couple races. In his second start back off a 15-week layoff in the Rebel he received a dumb ride too close to the pace and hung in the drive. He then got a better trip in the Arkansas Derby but appeared to hang in the drive once again as fellow Derby entrant Line of David held on to win. He cant be left out of the mix for a few reasons. He has the right running style, hes a Grade 1 winner and his trainer Wayne Lukas has won the Derby four times. We see him as a horse who could run well without winning.
Backtalk (50-1) Could be the longest shot on the board on Derby Day and not because hes a bad horse, but because his numbers just dont measure up with the best in here, and his recent 12-length drubbing by fellow Derby entrant American Lion in the Illinois Derby doesnt exactly make you want to run to the windows. Crazy angles? He has a very sharp trainer in Tom Amoss, he makes his third start off the layoff, he was a multiple graded stakes winner at two, he has the right running style for this race and hes 2-for-2 on wet tracks. Hes certainly worth two bucks at the windows on Derby Day based on all those angles, especially if it rains.
Homeboykris (50-1) Another longshot sleeper and the only gelding in the race. Has a sharp trainer in Richard Dutrow, who won the Derby in 2008 with Big Brown, and hes a Grade 1 stakes winner, having won the classy Champagne Stakes at Belmont as a 2-year-old. Those are the positives. The negatives are that he doesnt seem to have improved much as a 3-year-old and the fact that he hasnt run since losing an allowance race at Gulfstream Park In February. Has some back class but were worried about his fitness level and the fact that he likes to sit close to the pace.
Sidney’s Candy (5-1) The Santa Anita Derby winner has three graded stakes wins in a row coming into the Derby, but all were accomplished as the lone speed. While were not convinced he needs the lead to win, hes going to have a very tough time working out a good trip from post 20 with this bunch. Hes bound to be wide early if he tries to stay close and if he sends for the early lead with all the other speed in here hell likely find himself in a duel. Hes a decent horse and hes full of confidence right now after defeating troubled-trip Looking At Lucky for his third win in a row in the Santa Anita Derby, but hes got a lot going against him in here, including the fact that hes never raced on the dirt. Trainer John Sadler and jockey Talamo are solid, but at a short price well be trying to beat him.
Well have our final analysis for you tomorrow morning after reviewing a few more of the Derby prep replays and watching the track condition. One thing is for sure, no matter who you decide to bet on in this years Kentucky Derby, youre almost certain to get a great price!