05/03/2011 5:06PM

Master? Or Hound?

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Perhaps it is a Foolish Pleasure, handicapping a cavalry charge of twenty horses that have never previously raced a classic distance. 

But each one of us, whether we have money on the race or not, will be on pins and Needles when the field turns for home on the first Saturday in May.  It could be a bay, a gray, or a Big Brown that wins this year's race, but every Tom, Dick, and Clyde Van Dusen will have an opinion.  Handicappers must Determine, however, if their Street Sense is up to the challenge.  Will they Genuine(ly) Risk their hard-earned money hoping to Strike the Gold?  How will they Spend a Buck?  Certainly, they will Ponder the past performances as studious, Pensive, and attentive as possible to the nuances of the cold dope.  Some may even listen to a Broker's Tip. 

The Kentucky Derby is not only the "most exciting two minutes in all of sports," but it is also a pop culture icon, an American jewel that shines all the way from grandstands and backstretches to kitchen tables and living rooms throughout our great country.  It is a race that is American as apple pie, Washington D.C., and Omaha, an event that turns good horses into immortals.

Thus, it is with great Regret that I must inform you that the coveted trophy could head overseas, perhaps not by Venetian Way but to the land of Ireland, a place where pots of gold magically appear under colorful and unlikely rainbows.  There may be an Unbridled feeling of shock after this year's Kentucky Derby and a Sunday Silence may mute the turf media if Master of Hounds pulls off the huge upset. 

Am I confident that this will happen?  Of course not (it was the easiest way I could get the puns in).  How can one be sure of anything when dreams are sometimes dashed two strides out of the starting gate in a scramble that more closely resembles a demolition derby that a horse race?  Each horse in this year's Derby, however, from the shortest prices to the longshots has questions to answer.  Will they handle dirt?  Is the distance a bridge too far?  Will the closers avoid traffic trouble, or will there be another Ice Box situation?  Is Uncle Mo the same horse he was last year?  Is Nehro really a great price at 9-1?  Does Midnight Interlude have enough seasoning?  Can Soldat rate and win?  Will the race be run over muddy going? 

Handicapping any race is the single greatest intellectual challenge in all of sports.  But in a spectacle like the Kentucky Derby, any speculation devolves into pure gambing.

I'll give you my final opinions later in the week.

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Here are the top 25 winning Beyer Speed Figures from last week's races (4/25/11 - 5/1/11):

1.  CAIXA ELETRONICA - 103 - Westchester Stakes (G3) - 1 Mile - Belmont
2.  MUSKETIER (GER) - 99 - Elkhorn Stakes (G2) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Keeneland
2.  OUR NAUTIQUE (NZ) - 99 - San Francisco Mile (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Golden Gate
4.  SUCCESSFUL MISSION - 98 - Miami Mile Handicap (G3) - 1 Mile (Turf) - Calder
5.  SAINT ISABELLE - 97 - Time To Leave Stakes - 5 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
6.  ATTICUS JACK - 96 - Alw 67416N1X - 1 Mile (Turf) - Hollywood
6.  CHORUS MUSIC - 96 - Irish Linnet Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Belmont
8.  AVENGING SPIRIT - 95 - OC 60k/N2X -N - 1 Mile - Belmont
8.  DARK COVE - 95 - OC 80k/N3X -N - 1 1/16 Miles (Polytrack) - Keeneland
8.  WILL'S WILDCAT - 95 - Md 50000(50-45) - 1 1/16 Miles - Churchill
11. KEERTANA - 94 - Bewitch Stakes (G3) - 1 1/2 Miles (Turf) - Keeneland
11. LITTLE DRAMA - 94 - Philmont Stakes - 7 Furlongs - Parx
11. PEACE AT DAWN - 94 - OC 50k/C -N - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Calder
14. CHEROKEE QUEEN - 93 - Hollywood Wildcat Handicap - 7 1/2 Furlongs (Turf) - Calder
14. GENERALISSIMO - 93 - Hcp 30000 - 1 Mile (Turf) - Tampa Bay
14. MY CHARMING CLYDE - 93 - OC 32k/C -N - 5 Furlongs (Turf) - Tampa Bay
17. ACHAK (IRE) - 92 - Clm 25000(25-22.5) - 1 1/16 Miles (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
17. JOYFUL SUCCESS - 92 - Clm c-(16-14) - 5 1/2 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
17. MACHEN - 92 - Derby Trial (G3) - 1 Mile - Churchill
17. POCKET PATCH - 92 - Henry Clark Stakes - 1 Mile (Turf) - Pimlico
17. SADDLERANCH - 92 - Md Sp Wt 51k - 6 1/2 Furlongs (Cushion Track) - Hollywood
17. SAFETY CHECK - 92 - Alw 52000N1X - 6 1/2 Furlongs - Belmont
17. SOUTHERN STYLE - 92 - Need For Speed Stakes - 5 Furlongs - Evangeline
24. ARTIC FERN - 91 - OC 80k/C -N - 7 Furlongs (Polytrack) - Woodbine
24. L. A. GIRL - 91 - Alw 38000N$Y - 1 Mile 70 Yards - Penn National
24. SALT FLAT SPEED - 91 - Alw 10000NC - 6 Furlongs - Fonner
24. SOUTHERN VINTAGE - 91 - OC 40k/N2X - 6 Furlongs - Delaware

The past performances for CAIXA ELETRONICA are available at the bottom of this blog posting.

***

Performance of the Week videos are on hiatus this week due to Derby Madness.  They will return on Monday or Tuesday.

***

Dan,
Sorry if this has been discussed (I didn't read through all comments), but you wrote: "If you go to the drf.com Kentucky Derby webpage, you can get a summary of each contender, including charts and videos of each stakes race they entered, a profile by one of the DRF writers and a Pedigree Analysis Analysis by our own Dan Illman..."
Steve D.

Actually, I never wrote that.  One of our other FormBloggers did.

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...1992 - LIL E TEE - He had an interesting pattern in his 4 preps for the Derby. He went from a 92 to a 106 (up 14 pts), back down to a 95 and then up to a 107 (up 12 pts) in his race before the Derby. I'm not sure what his Derby Beyer was (anyone know?) Did he go down and still win? Or go up again? Anyway it was kind of an interesting pattern...
Annie

Lil E. Tee received a 107 Beyer Speed Figure for his Kentucky Derby victory.

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...He has promise if they ever run him again and if they try and keep the fractions a little above 21 and change when trying to stretch him out again. He looks like a miler to me. Does anyone know what the deal is with Runflatout?...
vicstu

There were reports that he injured a stifle when tenth in the San Felipe.  One original idea bandied about by the connections was the Derby Trial, but he missed that race.  He worked five-eighths in 1:00.20 handily at Hollywood on May 1.

***

Dan,
Thanks for posting the Derby PP's for 93 to 99. A commenter made reference to you also having posted the PP's for 00 thru 10. I cant find em. Can you repost or let me know where they were when you posted them.
THANKS!
CC

Where are the derby PP's located for the years 2000-2009?
Carmine

CASS C
the derby p.p.'s you're looking for are on the Monday ,April 11th blog entry
gerry v

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when i watch ROD previews Dan and Mike always have beyer figs and placing for previous opponents of the horse they are previewing does a handicapping tool; exist where that information is available besides the Key race report
drew

Drew
The only way I know of to get the Beyer figures for the opposing horses is to purchase a card(s) of Formulator. Then, let's say you want to see the Beyer figures of the horses that the horse, Iamarunner, has faced. Click on the left hand side of the form, the highlighted blue date. That brings up the chart of the race. Under options, click on Beyer Figures. That should do it.
I find this very helpful. Also, I find it very helpful to click on a horses name in the chart and up comes their past performances. I get a better idea of the quality of competition Iamarunner has been facing.
RonZ

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Dan, with the Factor out of the Derby, who would you consider likely front runners/pace setters, and who would you consider closers besides Dialed In ?
Thanks, Johnny

Barring a poor break, Comma to the Top looks like the best early speed with Shackleford, Mucho Macho Man, Pants On Fire, and Soldat not too far behind. 
You mentioned Dialed In as a logical closer.  Nehro, Archarcharch, Brilliant Speed, Master of Hounds, Watch Me Go, and Derby Kitten may be huddled near the tail end of the field with the rest classifying as stalkers (Uncle Mo, Midnight Interlude, etc.) and midpack performers (Animal Kingdom, Twice the Appeal, etc).

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...Dan- It would be great to remember this race. Please post the pp's for 1997 classic and the result chart. Thanks for your great blog...
JP

The past performances and chart for the 1997 Breeders' Cup Classic are available at the bottom of this blog post.

***

Congrats to tedmur for finishing first in last week's HandiGambling exercise.  This week's race will be the Kentucky Derby.  I will post the past performances when they become available (late Wednesday night or early Thursday afternoon) along with some of your other questions and comments.

AttachmentSize
Caixa Eletronica.pdf70.19 KB
Classic Chart.pdf42.65 KB
1997 Classic.pdf112.2 KB
dylbert More than 1 year ago
Going old school here... Most of Saturday's Derby field will do something for the first and last time in their respective careers -- carry 126 pounds and attempt to go 10 furlongs. In past days, early debate would focus on horses who just can't carry this weight. Then, discussion would move to which horse (or horses) can actually competitively complete 10 furlongs. I got some homework to do... see all y'all in Iron Maidens chat this Friday
jim tully More than 1 year ago
Well, congratulations, Daily Racing Form, for sticking it the bettor yet again. Taking away the daily plan with the add-a-track option is probably the last straw for me. I don't think I can support all facets of a sport that consistently tries to drive away it's customer base. I can't tell you how angry I am right now. DRF has lost a customer and horse racing has lost a devoted fan. Once this weekend is over, good bye, everyone. I enjoyed contributing to the blog. Is it any wonder why horse racing is losing? Casinos are giving things away. They have reward points. You get comps. The tracks, OTBs and now DRF just take and take and charge and charge. Do you have any idea how much money I have spent in DRF plans over the last couple years? THOUSANDS of dollars. Not one complementary subscription in all that time(except for my Handigambling score). Man, I wish I knew how to play craps Dan, good luck to you and thank you for all your hard work. I enjoyed meeting you at Arlington last summer. Sitting between you and Scott McManus at dinner was a thrill. Had I known a day of DRF was going to soon cost me 15 bucks, I would have ordered the filet. To all those I have gotten to know in this forum and to those I was privileged to meet at the convention, I wish you well. See you on the golf course.
LemonSoupKid More than 1 year ago
Chicago Gerry, You guys gonna be at arlington? How can I get your email without publishing it on here for all to see? You could PM me at paceadvantage, I'm the same name as you see. Best, LSK
blackseabass More than 1 year ago
Like Vicstu said , if you like your horse don't let the post throw you, butts... AAA getting the one hole probably assures that he will try and get the jump and stay in relatively close attendance. If he can do it, its the way for him. On the other hand if the pocket gets collapsed on him by Comma and his pursuers he could get shuffled back to 10th-12th off the 1st turn with a lot to do. One of the only knocks on AAA is that he might not like it when he doesn't get a clean trip. If he's a good enough DEEP closer than it won't matter. I'm of the mind that says his best chance is as a mid pack stlkr / clsr from not too far away maybe 8 lengths give or take. The 1 hole is not a bonus but its not impossible. Those outside holes are not a problem if you are a really legit speed horse with not too much speed inside you like Smarty or Big Brown . The guys out there this time are not CLEARLY the best speed and have a fair amount of their kind of speed inside them as well as a couple legit speed horses. There is a good chance they are getting hung wide and shuffled back on the 1st turn . Game over for some of them. Some horses will get mugged after the start " The Lucky Treatment" by some bums who's only impact is to foul another. Which brings me to my BRILLIANT IDEA . I think they should split the derby into divisions. Two fourteen horse races . Or twelve. Two Derby winners . The top 14 Qualifiers on time from the two divisions get first preference for the Preakness. If Shack would get scratched I might really start to like my horse . Its not that I think Shack is better than Commanomaly its just that I think Shack is the one that might compromise Commanomaly getting the best trip he can get.
KYL Syndicate More than 1 year ago
I'm sure you all saw this and obviously none of us is surprised.. Uncle Mo's status still up in the air...decision to be made today/tomorrow on whether to scratch him...
Calvin L. Carter More than 1 year ago
Uncle Steve, I also will use Calvin Borel (Twice The Appeal) on some of my tickets but I’m not sure how to use him just yet. A jockey can elevate or lower a horse’s performance. Here’s a look at the success rate of jockeys in Derby 137 with on-the-board finishes in past Derbies. Joel Rosario (Brilliant Speed) With a fourth-place finish (Make Music For Me) in his only Derby start, Rosario has a 100% success rate in-on-the board finishes. Calvin Borel (Twice The Appeal) With three first-place finishes (Street Sense, Mine That Bird and Super Saver) and a third-place finish (Denis of Cork) in eight Derby starts, Borel has a 50% success rate. Victor Espinoza (Midnight Interlude) With a first-place finish (War Emblem) and third-place finish (Congaree) in four Derby starts, Espinoza has a 50% success rate. Mike Smith (Twinspired) With a first-place finish (Giacomo), three second-place finishes (Prairie Bayou, Proud Citizen, Lion Heart) and one third-place finish (Cat Thief) in 17 Derby starts, Smith has a 29% success rate. Robby Albarado (Animal Kingdom) With two third-place finishes (Steppenwolfer and Curlin) in 12 Derby starts, Albarado has a 17% success rate. Rafael Bejarano (Watch Me Go) With a fourth-place finish (Papa Clem) in six Derby starts, Bejarano has a 17% success rate. John R. Velazquez (Uncle Mo) With a second-place finish (Invisible Ink) and a fourth-place finish (More Than Ready) in 12 Derby Starts, Velazquez has a 17% success rate. Ramon Dominquez (Stay Thirsty) With a second-place finish (Bluegrass Cat) in seven Derby starts, Dominquez has a 14% success rate. Garrett Gomez (Master of Hounds) With a second-place finish (Pioneerof The Nile) in seven Derby starts, Dominquez has a 14% success rate. Corey Nakatani (Nehro) With two fourth-place finishes (Green Alligator and Halory Hunter) in 14 Derby starts, Nakatani has a 14% success rate. Patrick Valenzuela (Comma To The Top) With a first-place finish (Sunday Silence) in eight Derby starts, Valenzuela has a 13% success rate. Jockeys with off-the-board finishes Shaun Bridgmohan (Santiva) – 0 in four starts Javier Castellano (Derby Kitten) 0 in four starts Alan Garcia (Soldat) – 0 in two starts Julien Leparoux (Dialed In) – 0 in four starts Rajiv Maragh (Mucho Macho Man) – 0 in one start Jockeys making first Derby start Jon Court (Archarcharch) Kerwin Clark (Decisive Moment) Rosie Napravnik (Pants On Fire) J Castanon (Shackleford)
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Vicstu.......Don't worry about Court.....he's been riding CD's for years.....He'll know what to do. BSB...........Well I reckon you saw what I wrote about Arch Arch Arch.......so we see it a little differently. I just cannot see him going too crazy early, he did that in the Rebel and paid the price, he won't do it again. With Brilliant Speed to his outside he shouldn't get shut off early....The more I think about it the more I like it. I expect him to be back early......but Court won't panic......Mike A
Mike A More than 1 year ago
Vicstu..... I agree and disagree with the pp's making any difference in your pics. I do agree that good horses overcome most situations and Baffert could blame Gomez for what transpired early in last years Derby, but the fact remains that depending on where horses are situated and taken into account their particular running styles, it does weigh on what a jockey can and can't do to get position early. If there was ever a race that the outcome was predicated by early position and luck it's the Derby. So lets look at a pace scenario for this years Derby. This of course is just my opinion for what I see transpiring after the gates open and of course figuring everyone breaks cleanly. Comma To The Top goes, he wants the lead and the rail, why? Because I'm not the only one who thinks he's a question at the distance, his owner and trainer do too. Shortest route to the finish and all of that. Shackleford has shown he wants the lead too....his best races were on an uncontested lead, but I do not believe his connections care if he's outside of CTTT, but they will be together. Pletcher says UM will track early.....that puts him outside, with Soldat, MMM, Pants On Fire and perhaps Decisive Moment to his inside it figures that way, I doubt JV will put the horse out early. Soldat, could benefit the most with the break, I expect CTTT and Shackleford to move quickly, that should leave a gap for Soldat to fall into Third or fourth. I'm guessing 4th on the outside of Pants On Fire early. Napravnick will try for the rail.....she's a newbie, she'll try and save all the ground. After the failed rating experiment Garcia will want the outside and clear sailing. AS to Mucho Macho Man......Immaturity ,may take it's toll, a concern for sure. Rajivh Maragh says this horse can be placed anywhere and that may be true, but this isn't the race to experiment. To keep this horse involved he will have to engage him early, otherwise he takes the chance of him losing his focus. He's a big lumbering horse, inside wouldn't be an ideal place for him to be, so I see him outside a close up 5th. Now of course there are others who, considering what their respective jockey's do could be in that first 5 mix, namely Stay Thirsty, Santiva, Decisive Moment and Twice The Appeal. AS to where the rest will be it's anyone's guess.....except maybe for Dialed In and Arch Arch Arch. Dialed in will last or close to it, Arch Arch Arch's jockey will have to take back....he's already shown when being close up early he won't fire. Here's where racing luck comes into play......Horses for the most part do not win the Derby with a burst of speed from far back. They have to sustain their bids for at least 2-3 furlongs and be within 4 or 5 at the head of the lane. For Arch Arch Arch, Dialed In and Nehro that's alot of ground and alot of traffic to negotiate. Not everyone is as Lucky as Bo rail. On a dry track the rail will be occupied......I see some of the early speed/pace horses dropping back around the turn, this means going wide. Of those three I see J. Court taking advantage of that situation the most.....he will probably be on the rail the whole trip except for when he may have to pass someone. AS you can see I don't believe the one hole is a detriment in his case.....he's been there before and I don't think he'll be stupid and try and use too much of the horse early to get position. This horse has shown he can sustain his bid for a distance of ground. There are other closers I didn't mention.....They will all have the same situation, race riding will come into play......I only mentioned Arch Arch Arch because I see him benefiting the most of all of them with his rail position. So who do I see being there at the top of the lane, the 1/8th pole? I haven't gotten that far yet......I have to acquaint myself with Master Of Hounds.......The reason I mentioned the early running is because i see a gap developing early between CTTT, Shackleford and the rest....a gap a few may be able to take advantage of. Of course with the break and 20 horses no one can predict with any 100% accuracy what will happen, but I think we can come close.....anyway.....we'll see. Mike A
Annie More than 1 year ago
Calvin, LOL! I see there is someone else who likes to make analytical lists. Good job! :) ................................................................. Michael, Loved your breakdown of possible placement of the horses at the break. It always looks like one mad calvary charge when the gates open, and it's nice to get a handle on just what might be going on. :) Annie
mpm101 More than 1 year ago
scianc22 Thanks for your efforts. I will likely be at Meaowlands on Friday and see what it is like to go back Saturday. Will likely see you at Lauras on Friday night and we can make plans. mpm101
Curt V. More than 1 year ago
Ky. Derby thoughts, I've been checking the weather religiously & it keeps changing..The track condition IMHO of cHorse is more paramount than the post positions..& the big if is my Uncle,{Mo}..He's got me buying some crow meat just in case...Right now I have it par boiled, so all I have to do is nuke it up.....me wondering what goes good w/Crow? Plenty of Pepto Bismol.......This race may come down race by race, as it anybody's guess when/if/how hard/how much it rains, which will dictate my plays..>>> Uncle Mo/Soldat/AAA/Nehro leaning to these as of now, subject to track conditions & odds & not sure who's on top yet or how I'll play..If Mo runs, he gets the most.........looking at Pants on Fire/Stay Thirsty>>dat's all folks !!! TTYL... Allen Jerkins...." I can train any horse to run 1 1/4 ONE time,,,,,">>if Mo runs I'll be there>after that race..it's a crap shoot...TC, I doubt it........Was Super Saver a confirmed 10F horse ? I doubt he ever won again......so much for Classic pedigree needed to win the Derby..Oh Yeah ! Me forgot..He is a Slewster afterall, & they all said the same damn thing about Seattle Slew......& you know what? He, {Slew}'s been ROFLHAO ever since........at all the pundits...... Sherpa, You got me there..Decisive Moment ? It got shuffled along w/my notes.....I was running out of space on my paper..That should tell you something..IMHO anyway..Delta Downs ? I don't think so.. He broke his maiden w/ a 66 Beyer..He won a one mile race in circa 1:39..Not any good at all..His last he came home in 25.1..Not good..One of his wins was on an off track, rated good..You said he won on Slop ? I don't think so...Better check that again..Translation:Not in a G1 & especially not w/that sub class speed..Maybe there, but, not here..This is rarified air..Butts: It's a horse race, & that's why they run them........If he wins, can I get a loan?????