03/30/2010 1:12PM

Dry Spell


Lookin at Lucky and Eskendereya are the clear favorites for the Kentucky Derby May 1. They closed at 9-2 and 5-1 in the final round of Derby Futures betting last weekend, with no other individual horse going at lower than Awesome Act's 13-1. They will be heavily favored in their respetive final preps Saturday, the Wood and Santa Anita Derby. If they both win, this Derby may well be perceived and bet far more than usual as a two-horse showdown rather than a wide-open scramble.

I have no knock on either one of them, but it's still sobering to consider the following: Since 1989, when Santa Anita Derby winner Sunday Silence and Wood Memorial winner Easy Goer dominated the Triple Crown, only one winner of either race has gone on to victory in the Kentucky Derby.

(I added the Illinois Derbby to the chart above, since it's Saturday's third major Derby prep. All those blanks you see before 2001 are because the race was not positioned as a Derby prep until that year and was instead often the "consolation" Derby run the same day.)

The combined record of Wood and SA Derby winners in the Derby since 1989 is 32: 1-4-3, though obviously there are some major footnotes to that seemingly ugly tally. Some good ones, like A. P. Indy in 1992 and I Want Revenge last year, didn't make the main event, and others such as Silver Charm, Monarchos and Funny Cide were beaten in their final prep and went on to win the roses.

Even so, I found it surprising that only two (A. P. Indy, Point Given) of the 40 horses who have won the last 20 Woods and SAD's went on to be named the 3-year-old champion at season's end. The last Wood winner to earn that award? Slew o'Gold in 1983.