4-28-10: Kentucky Derby 136

Hello again everybody...

Welcome to your Wednesday. Or as I like to call it this week, “my Thursday”. Yes, once again I've managed to finagle a four-day work week. But this time, it's not because I'm attending a baseball game. This Friday night, Craig Ferguson from CBS's “Late Late Show” is doing a stand-up show at the State Theater in Minneapolis, and I, along with a couple of friends, will be in attendance.

If you haven't waited up to watch the “Late Late Show”, do yourself a favor and set the DVR for at least the first half-hour. It's some of the funniest stuff on late night television.

No worries though, there'll still be the usual DFTU column on Friday. I wouldn't leave you in the lurch just to join the Robot Skeleton Army for an evening! (Inside joke... I'm telling you, watch the show.)

But before we get to Friday's column, we've got to get to today's. And before I get to the main point of today's column (I'm sure you've read the title and figured it out), one quick baseball note:

Thank you, Joe Mauer.

If you missed Monday's news, Philadelphia 1B Ryan Howard signed a 5-year $125 million extension. That's an average of $25 million per year, $2 million more per year than Joe signed for. All due respect to Philly fans, but Mauer's a better all-around player than Howard is. Which means Minnesota got a heck of a deal.

It also means that St. Louis Cardinal fans should be cringing, because Albert Pujols' agent is grinning ear to ear, dreaming of the $30 millon per year contract his client just got put in line for.

Wow. Am I in the wrong line of business or what? Oof.

Enough about baseball. Today's about the ponies!


”When ideas fail, words come in very handy.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 - 1832), German writer and polymath

Wondering what a “polymath” is? So was I. A “polymath” is defined as a person, with superior intelligence, whose expertise spans a number of different subject areas. So there's that.

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Kentucky Derby 136

I know not many of you get as excited for horse racing as I do, and I'm okay with that. It's not everybody's thing. But this year? Well, our excitement levels are a whole lot closer than they have been in the past.

That comes as a result of a number of factors. (And these are in no particular order.)

One, I no longer work with the guy who got me into horse racing in the first place. As a result of a round of buy-outs at the shop, Dark Star is no longer with WCCO. I could say a lot of things about the Dark man, many of which might get me in trouble, but one of the safe things I can say is that you can't spend any significant time around him without gaining an appreciation for horse racing and boxing.

Dark showed me the ropes at Canterbury and taught me how to read the Past Performance charts in the Daily Racing Form. Without him, I never would've developed the appreciation for the Sport of Kings that I now have.

Though in fairness, I might have a few more dollars in my pocket as well.

Never the less, I'm grateful to him for what he's taught me. But without his presence at the shop, without the cavalcade of “expert” guests, I'm just not as pumped up for the Derby as I have been in past years.

Two, for the second year in a row, the local track isn't beginning its live racing season until the weekend after the Derby. Economics is a bitch sometimes.

Like many other entertainment industries, Canterbury has felt the effects of the down economy. So rather than begin their live season on Derby day, they're shaving a weekend off their calendar to save money. I can hardly blame them for that. But the vibe out at the track isn't nearly as exciting when there aren't local races to get your juices flowing for the Derby itself.

Do I intend on heading down to the track at some point? Sure. But instead of hanging down there all day, I'm thinking I might head down in the morning, make my bets, and then come home to watch the race itself. And that's too bad.

Third, the field is one of the worst I've seen since I got into horse racing. Initially, the race set up much like 2008's Derby when Big Brown won the first of his two Triple Crown races. That year, you had one super-horse surrounded by many average horses. And it was supposed to be similar this year. Eskendereya was not only heads and tails above the level of his competition, but he was also supposed to get uber-trainer Todd Pletcher his first Derby win. Pletcher's won just about every major race there is to win, except the Kentucky Derby, and this was supposed to be his year. But Monday, he was scratched due to some swelling in one of his legs.

And just like that, instead of one super-horse surrounded by average talent, we have a field full of average (and some below-average) talent. While that might make the wagering opportunities more profitable if you hit the right combination, it doesn't set up for a very good race, and it certainly doesn't inspire dreams of finally breaking the Triple Crown drought.

As you can tell, I'm a little less than stoked for this year's race.

So while I'm not going to break down every horse in the field, don't think I won't try to re-start my Derby winning streak again.

Here are a few horses to watch:

Conveyance and Rule:

These are the two primary speed balls left in the race. It's likely they'll be out front early setting a hot pace. Hot paces in the Derby usually mean that a stretch runner will win the race, and that's what I think will happen this year.

Sidney's Candy, Line of David and Mission Impazible:

All three of these horses won a Derby prep race, and should be factors on Saturday. Sidney's Candy has the best speed number of any horse left in the race, but hasn't ever run on dirt. Line of David popped a big number in the Arkansas Derby, but doesn't have a history of fast numbers. Mission Impazible is intriguing because he has experience at Churchill Downs.

Lookin at Lucky and Super Saver:

These two horses run completely different races, but both need to be accounted for. Lookin at Lucky is a stretch runner, which means he'll definitely have a shot to win if he gets a clean trip. He'll also likely be the Morning Line favorite, and be bet down from there.

Super Saver is another speed horse, but I don't think he'll be burned out like the two horses I previously mentioned. Why? Because he'll have Calvin Borel, who's won two of the last three Derbys piloting him. I hit with Borel on Street Sense, and completely whiffed on him last year with Mine That Bird. I don't plan to repeat that mistake.

Ice Box:

This horse is my pick to win Kentucky Derby 136.

The winner of the Florida Derby likes to come from back in the pack. He broke 11th at Gulfstream park in that race and managed a great closing kick to win by a nose. He's experienced on dirt, has worked out well, and is trained by Nick Zito who knows how to win a Derby.

So my advice to all you racing fans out there (you are out there, right?) is to bet Ice Box to win, put him in an Exacta Box with Looking at Lucky and Super Saver, and then toss in Sidney's Candy, Line of David and Mission Impazible on the third line of a trifecta and hope you get lucky.

Post time is 5:15pm Central on Saturday. I'm going to try my best to enjoy the Run for the Roses. Hopefully you will as well!

That's going to wrap things up for today. I'll be back on Friday with your usual heaping helping of Updating.

Until then, thanks for reading!