I often think of my evening runs up to the Meadowlands with my friend Walter and several of the track denizens we regularly encountered. One particular gentlemen routinely voiced his frustration over wagers that he did not place that came in as winners. I can remember the first time Walter and I heard him exclaim, "I just lost $12,000!" We both nearly had our beers shoot out through our noses as we stared in disbelief at each other. How could a man lost $12,000 on a single race? The truth was not that interesting. Fernando simply did not win $12,000. He never wagered a dime on the race and was merely disgusted with the outcome being favorable given his selections. Using Fernando's logic, I lost $7,691 on the 2014 Kentucky Derby by not playing the superfecta despite touting the top four horses in that race (see my old blog post Conflicted in Kentucky).
My recent affiliation with US Racing has given me limited time to blog here, but it is the Kentucky Derby and I know many of you are eager to know what I am thinking this year, especially Mike (a.k.a. "Ace"), who was the only one to cash in on my ill fated 2014 Kentucky Derby picks. In my weekly US Racing article, Why Your Mom Was Right about the Kentucky Derby Pace, I offer up the most probable pace scenario and will not rehash that here (click the link and get me some much needed page views!). So I will curt right through the chase and with my contenders.
17 Mor Spirit (12-1) - This one grew on me over the past few weeks. The pace will set up for him here with some weak early speed and a nice pressing/stalking trip. His past performances are a bit deceiving - he had trouble in his last two races. Last out in the Santa Anita Derby he faced some torrid fractions set by the One Dimensional Frontrunner Danzing Candy and he did not like the sloppy track. The likely pace of the Derby should not have a half mile in under 46 seconds. Two back in the San Felipe he ran into some trouble early which allowed Danzing Candy to get loose on the lead without any pressure causing him to falter. I am looking for an improvement off of the race he ran three back in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. I expect him to sit a few lengths off the lead and make a big late move here. Bob Baffert is the best recent Kentucky Derby trainer with four wins. Gary Stevens knows how to win big races. He has won the Derby three times including a win for Baffert in '97 with Silver Charm and a third place finish in '98 on Orientate.
13 Nyquist (3-1) - I gave Mor Spirit a slight edge here, but Nyquist will run a huge race as well given the probable pace. I have no knock against him given the solid connections of O'Neill and Gutierrez. I don't think that Nyquist will move forward as much as Mor Spirit will in the Derby.
4 Mo Tom (20-1) - This is my upset horse. Knowing that closers will have a tough time with traffic issues in this race, I expect him to run into some trouble as he did in his last three starts.
3 Creator (10-1) - He suffers the same fate as Mo Tom - trying to close through a ton of traffic against two strong late runners. Assmussen has a strong Tapit colt here who's breeding suggests that he can run all day and he showed a huge late effort to win the Blue Grass.
2 Suddenbreakingnews (20-1) - He is another strong closer that falls victim to the strong pace of Mor Spirit and Nyquist. He could find his way into the bottom half of your exotics.
Potential for Value: High
So what am I toying with playing?
Small Exacta 13,17 / 2, 3, 4, 13, 17
Small Trifecta 13, 17 / 2, 3, 4, 13, 17 / 2, 3, 4, 13, 17
Small Superfecta 13, 17 / 2, 3, 4, 13, 17 / 2, 3, 4, 13, 17 / 2, 3, 4, 13, 17
We'll see what the weather looks like and if there are any scratches or changes first.
So sit back, enjoy a mint julep, and enjoy the most exciting two minutes in sports!