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Kentucky Derby handicapping chat with The Wizard
Michael Kipness, AKA The Wizard, picked Animal Kingdom to win last year's Derby. Go here for his pick and wagering strategies for this year's Derby. The Wizard joined DRF.com users for a Kentucky Derby preview chat on Tuesday night.
On the West Coast horses in this year's field:
The southern california form seems a bit weaker than at other venues around the country.
On potential favorite Bodemeister:
There's no doubt that Bodemeister is a serious contender. He has been expertly managed for this race by one of the best trainers of all time
On the pace scenario:
It's very tricky to determine if the pace is going to be fast or honest. Many people think it's going to be a fast pace because Trinniberg is a one-dimensional speed horse. But my take on it is that I think it's going to be an honest pace because he's shown the ability to rate on the lead. The most interesting aspect of this year's derby is how the pace scenario will shake out with Trinniberg in the race. Trinniberg should not have entered in this spot. Trinniberg right now has only proven to be a sprinter. Maybe a mile would be a distance that would stretch him to the limit. But forget 1 1/4 miles.
On which horse has the best pedigree in the field:
Several horses in this race have the breeding to handle 1 1/4 miles. But in recent years, distance pedigree has not played as important a role as many years back. Horses are bred more for speed than stamina now.
The problem with Alpha is that he has had some interruption in his training for the race and I want horses that have had no glitches in preparation for the Derby. Despite Alpha only losing by a nose in the Wood, his training has been interrupted a bit and he has a tendency to act up in the post parade and especially behind the starting gate. If he couldn't beat Gemologist in the Wood, I don't feel he's going to beat him in the Derby. I really have my doubts how good Alpha really is. Alpha's trip actually helped him and ¬neverthel¬ess he had dead aim through the stretch and couldn't get the job done.
On the European entry:
The only horse from Europe is Daddy Longlegs. I respect his trainer immensely but I feel that this is a very tough spot. His one race on dirt was the Breeders' Cup juvenile and he was awful.
Hansen is a very good horse who has proven to like the Churchill surface. He has also shown the ability to rate successfully, which can only help his chances. The question is, Can he get the distance?
Will there be an Animal Kingdom this year?
I don't feel there's an Animal Kingdom in this race that will upset the field. I feel that there's 5 or 6 major contenders and that's it.
The top factors to consider in handicapping the race:
I want to see which horses will benefit by the race setup. In the Derby, I prefer horses that have tactical speed and are athletic. One-run closers must overcome traffic problems which is likely to happen in a 20 horse field.
Dullahan has yet to prove that he could handle conventional dirt. But Dullahan has improved as a 3-year-old and he's won two Grade 1 races, which is more than you can say for anyone else in the field
On Creative Cause:
Creative Cause has shown that he doesn't like to be put in tight quarters and he loses his focus. That is why Harrington took the blinkers off in the SA Derby and will keep them off for the Derby despite all four wins coming with blinkers on I'm not crazy about his management of Creative Cause.
On factoring trainers and jockeys:
I like to narrow down my selections to trainers that have been successful pointing horses to major stakes races. I'm not worried so much about the riders because all these riders are very capable. Trainers use the best riders in the country. Why wouldn't they? This is the Kentucky Derby.
On Union Rags:
I have confidence that Union Rags, sired by Dixie Union, should have no problem getting the distance. Union Rags is a big strong horse with a very nice stride and has been training brilliantly at Churchill
On I'll Have Another:
I'll Have Another, with the exception of the sloppy track race in the Hopeful, has run very well. He's a gritty horse with excellent tactical speed. But I question how the pace scenario will affect him as he has proven to do his best running no more than three lengths off the pace.
I like Gemologist's Wood Memorial victory very much. He showed another horse can look him in the eye and fight that horse off when it counted He is 5-for-5, 2-for-2 at Churchill. He has Tactical speed and is certainly bred for the distance. I feel that Alpha had every chance to run down Gemologist and couldn't do it. That just shows me that an undefeated horse like Gemologist does not want to be passed.
On El Padrino:
His Florida Derby to me was a throwout. El Padrino was hurt by a wide trip and a slow pace. Jockey Castellano was worried more about keeping Union Rags pinned in than he was riding El Padrino. Padrino's prior races have been very good. El Padrino who on paper is a big wet track move-up from reports did not work that well over a muddy track. But there are very few people who are there to report the accuracy of those works. None of us have seen them so take the slow time with a grain of salt
On Daddy Nose Best:
You have to respect any horse trained by Steve Asmussen. Daddy Nose Best certainly has improved immensely. Daddy will have no problem getting the distance and he's coming up to the race in peak form. Certainly a horse you have to use, especially in trifectas or superfectas.
Bodemeister has done nothing wrong in his brief career. You must decide whether he can rate successfully but it appears that he has been taught in morning workouts to settle and make one run. Can he do it in a 20 horse field with several horses with similar running styles? Over a surface he has never run on?
On Went the Day Well:
When I picked Animal Kingdom last year for the same connections as Went the Day Well, I picked him for several reasons that were not obvious in the racing form. When I look at Went the Day Well, I see no comparisons. He does get blinkers on but I don't think that equpment change puts him in the same league as many others in the race.