05/01/2008 3:08PM

Longest of the Long


So enough already with who's going to win the Derby. Who's going to be the longest shot on the board at post time?

Here's the list of the longest shots in each of the last 10 Derbies:

I didn't bother going back any further, because the whole idea of long longshots changed radically with the elimination of the Derby mutuel field after the 2000 running. Prior to 2001, the horses with the least-promising histories were lumped together because the tote system could only handle 14 (and earlier, 12) betting interests. In 2000, for example, Exchange Rate was the longest-priced betting interest at 59.20-1, but he was considered a more likely winner than Wheelaway, Deputy Warlock or Ronton, who ran as a three-horse mutuel field sent off at 20.80-1. In 1998, Nationalore was 109.60-1 but there was a two-horse mutuel field of Robinwould and Basic Trainee at 69.80-1. In 1974's 23-horse Derby, there were two two-horse entries, nine solo betting interests, and a 10-horse mutuel field that was the third choice at just 5.20-1.

There hasn't been a 100-1 shot in the race since the 17-horse affair of 2001, when Startac ran 10th at 102.40-1 and Arctic Boy was 12th at 101.20-1. I don't think we'll be seeing any triple-digit horses for a while after the 50-1/71-1 Giacomo-Closing Argument exacta of 2005, and this year's longest shot is likely to be in the same 60-1 range of the last two years.

So who will it be? Mike Battaglia made just one horse in the field 50-1, Big Truck, while tabbing three at 30-1: Anak Nakal, Adriano and Z Humor. I can't see either of the latter two as the very longest shot, given Edgar Prado's choice of Adriano over Monba and Tale of Ekati, and Z Humor's (albeit long-ago) third in the Champagne to War Pass and Pyro. I would have put Smooth Air in the 30-1 category (he finished behind Big Truck the last time they crossed paths), but he seems to have a constituency despite neglecting to win a race beyond seven furlongs.

Anak Nakal, however, could give Big Truck a run for the least money. Big Truck has at least won a race this year, the Tampa Bay Derby, where he earned a 93 Beyer, six points better than Anak Nakal's best. Having said that, I think Anak Nakal would be a terrible bet to finish last in the race. He'll be passing horses late, but probably considerably fewer than 19 of them.

Come to think of it, it's kind of funny that last year's Tampa Bay Derby winner (Street Sense) was the Kentucky Derby favorite and this year's (Big Truck) is the longest shot on the morning line.