Saturday, May 02, 2009
Kentucky Derby 135: May the Best Horse Win
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, May 2, 2009--Unlike the last two years when we were locked in to our Derby horses early on, Street Sense and Big Brown, this year I have no firm opinions.
Even if the track were fast, a third surface turned a difficult test into a guessing game.
And when you guess in this business, you lose.
This year, even the best Derby horses have warts. I’m not convinced we’ll get the Wood effort back from I Want Revenge. Dunkirk is seasoned but lacking in experience.
Friesan Fire will probably get his track. But for me it’s not the seven weeks as it is the 8.5 furlongs. I love Pioneerof The Nile as a racehorse, but I have no idea what to expect tomorrow. They are the Big Four, and they all have handicapping warts.
So I asked myself which horse will make me bang my head against the wall if I didn’t pick it and it won.
That horse is Dunkirk, and that’s because I lost my Derby horse when Quality Road went to the sidelines.
For the record, Dunkirk will win, I Want Revenge will place and Pioneerof The Nile will show.
How absolutely boring of me.
So let’s have some fun with the gimmicks--and you’ll be the one who decides who to use and how to play it. I won’t know what I’ll do for sure until later this afternoon.
But here’s the rule: There are four tiers: Top, Second, Third and Fourth, representing projected finishers of horses will believe will win or, at least, contend. Use them as you will. However, no tier, when layering the tickets, can jump more than one level.
Top Tier: Dunkirk and I Want Revenge
Second Tier: Friesan Fire, Regal Ransom and Pioneerof The Nile
Third Tier: West Side Bernie, Mr. Hot Stuff, Chocolate Candy
Fourth Tier: Musket Man and Papa Clem
In other words, the rule says I can’t use West Side Bernie to save in the Top Tier. Nor can I use Papa Clem to finish better than third. Got that? And, of course, a horse that can finish first obviously could finish second, third, fourth or worse.
The tiers, of course, represent the straight, exacta, trifecta and superfecta pools. I figure to be in all of them. Bet only what you can afford. Take one moon shot for a few dollars; the Derby pools are humongous.
Four numbers could change your life forever. If not, you’re out $5 or $10. As hard as it is, it‘s “America’s Race,” and it’s worth a sawbuck--if you’re truly a red-blooded American.
And, please, may they all come back safe.
Written by John Pricci
Friday, May 01, 2009
Oaks Filly Rachel Alexandra Conjures Up Ruffian
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, April 30, 2009--It’s very possible that the best three-year-old in America runs in today’s Oaks, not tomorrow’s Derby.
It’s also likely that when two undefeated fillies meet in the G2 Louisville Stakes, only one will emerge that way, a dead heat notwithstanding.
And we don’t think it’s going to be Zenyatta that emerges with record in tact. But first, the Oaks.
I will refrain from making any comparisons between Rachel Alexandra and the great Ruffian. At this juncture, that borders on reckless.
For one thing, Rachel Alexandra, the overwhelming favorite to win today’s Kentucky Oaks, is not undefeated. In fact, she’s lost thrice in nine career starts. Neither is she jet black, as ferocious or as fast away from barrier.
But this is a new millennium. She doesn’t have to be those things. In fact, for a three-year-old to make nine starts before Oaks-Derby weekend is nigh impossible these days.
What Rachel Alexandra is is reminiscent of Ruffian.
Lots of terrific fillies have come down the center of the racetrack the last three decades but never, ever, have I been moved to invoke, what my colleague and partner, Cary Fotias, refers to as “the ‘R’ word.”
In a fashion, Rachel is an anti-Ruffian. She owns the same dominating speed, but she doesn’t run you off the track with it. Instead, she lulls you to sleep.
Then, just you’re ready to make your move against her, like some storybook little piggy, Rachel Alexandra goes wee, wee, wee all the way home.
She wins so easily that her rider, the normally humble Calvin Borel, celebrates a little too demonstrably.
I’ve subsequently learned that the filly’s trainer, 66-year-old Hal Wiggins, didn’t much care for Borel’s celebrations on horseback either. He said as much to Borel, in a nice way, and both moved on.
So Calvin was a lot more reserved when he went along for the ride in the G2 Fantasy last out. His antics in the final sixteenth of the Fair Grounds Oaks showed up the filly. This time he was more reserved.
But I can’t say I’d blame him if he got carried away again. It must be great to be sitting on top of your world and in complete control of it, too.
There are some nice fillies in today’s Oaks, the best of which is Justwhistlindixie, whose trip in the G2 Bonnie Miss was enough to get her beat. Only it didn’t. She’s a good filly.
As good as she is, however, I wouldn’t be tempted to bet her against colts. Conversely, I would have seriously considered it had Rachel’s people decided to run Saturday instead of Friday.
They talked about it briefly after the Martha Washington but decided on discretion over valor.
After last year, maybe that was for the best.
Rachel Alexandra won’t make you rich if you bet her to win today’s Oaks, but chances are you’ll be slack-jawed watching her cruise down the Louisville straight.
Meanwhile, three hours earlier, the mighty Zenyatta will attempt to win her 10th career race without tasting defeat.
Since she won the G1 Apple Blossom at Oaklawn last year, we understand that she’s more than a “synthetic specialist.” She’s run six races at today’s mile and a sixteenth distance, so that’s not a problem, either.
The problem is the four-year-old One Caroline, the filly named for a popular Saratoga night spot.
The 5-for-5 filly never has taken a backward step on the Equiform performance scale. Further, she’s the controlling speed today, owns two wins at the distance and, unlike her behemoth rival, is 2-for-2 at Churchill.
We watched her win the G2 Rampart at Gulfstream Park the day after the Florida Derby and rarely is a race over several steps out of the starting gate in a two-turn race, but this race was. One Caroline was dominating.
She was a pretty picture coming down the Hallandale stretch, too, galloping beneath a motionless Edgar Prado.
If she continues to show that kind of development at 2:10 this afternoon at Churchill Downs, Personal Ensign’s winning streak will be safe for at least another year.
Written by John Pricci
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Betting the Derby Is a Different Proposition
SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, April 29, 2009--Have an opinion about which horse will win the Kentucky Derby? After all, the Derby is “America’s Race” and it’s your patriotic duty to think about which colt will win it.
But in case you might be bored with conventional Win, Place, and Show wagers, or the more exotic Exactas, Trifectas and Superfectas, our friends at Bodog
have come up with series of interesting/fun Derby propositions.
Proposition wagering is one of the bigger growth sub-sets in the wagering industry. The most popular, of course, are the Super Bowl props, ranging from which team will win the coin toss, score first, or whether a team will recover a fumble and run it in for a touchdown.
In part, it’s what makes those Las Vegas hotel rooms hard to come by on Super Bowl weekend. Actually, those joints will be pretty much jumpin’ this weekend, too.
So, if you’re inclined, check out these propositions which run the gamut from sublime to ridiculously sublime.
Note: that some odds might change due to the post draw:
Will any Horse win the 2009 Triple Crown?
2009 Kentucky Derby vs. Ricky Hatton/Manny Pacquiao Fight: 135th Kentucky Derby-Winning Margin vs. Number of Knockdowns in the Fight
Derby Winning Margin -3 (+170)
Number of Knockdowns Pacquiao/Hatton +3 (-250)
Will NBC best its previous Kentucky Derby Nielsen rating high of 9.3 achieved in 2001 with its presentation of the 135th Kentucky Derby?
2009 Kentucky Derby - How many different horses will race caller Tom Durkin (NBC) call as the race leader?
Over 5 -120
Under 5 -120
2009 Kentucky Derby - How long will it take Leann Rimes to sing the national anthem at the 135th Kentucky Derby?
Over 1 minute 54 seconds -120
Under 1 minute 54 seconds -120
2009 Kentucky Derby - What color will Leann Rimes’ hat be at the 135th Kentucky Derby?
Any Other Color 3/1
2009 Kentucky Derby - How long will the it take to sing "My Old Kentucky Home” at the 135th Kentucky Derby?
Over 2 minutes 17 seconds -120
Under 2 minutes 17 seconds -120
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will the winner of the 135th Kentucky Derby be bred in Kentucky?
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will the crowd attendance exceed that of the 157,770 of 2008
2009 Kentucky Derby - How many lengths will the winner of the 135th Kentucky Derby win by?
More than 2 lengths 6/5
2 lengths 7/1
Less than 2 lengths 1/1
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will a horse win the 135th Kentucky Derby wire to wire?
Yes (Horse Wins 135th Kentucky Derby Wire to Wire) +550
No (Horse Wins 135th Kentucky Derby Wire to Wire) -1100
2009 Kentucky Derby - Who will NBC Horse Racing Analyst Gary Stevens pick to win the 135th Kentucky Derby?
PIONEEROF THE NILE 1/1
I WANT REVENGE 7/5
GENERAL QUARTERS 5/1
Any Other Horse 2/1
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will the winner of the 2009 Kentucky Derby win the 2009 Preakness Stakes?
Yes (135th Kentucky Derby Winner Wins 2009 Preakness) +225
No (135th Kentucky Derby Winner Wins 2009 Preakness) -350
2009 Kentucky Derby - What will the odds of the pre-race favorite be at post time in the 135th Kentucky Derby?
Over 7/2 -140
Under 7/2 EVEN
2009 Kentucky Derby - Official Winning Time
Over 2:01.60 -190
Under 2:01.60 +155
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will the winner of the 135th Kentucky Derby complete the race faster than the 2:01.92 of Big Brown in 2008?
2009 Kentucky Derby - What will be the time of the first quarter mile of the 135th Kentucky Derby?
Over 0:23:00 -125
Under 0:23:00 -115
2009 Kentucky Derby - Official Win Mutual Payoff
Over $18.50 -125
Under $18.50 -115
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will 2009 Kentucky Derby all sources handle exceed the 2008 Kentucky Derby all sources handle of $114,557,364?
Yes (2009 All Sources Handles Exceeds 2008) +350
No (2009 All Sources Handles Exceeds 2008) -700
2009 Kentucky Derby - What will the total on-track wagering handle of the 135th Kentucky Derby be?
Over 12 Million Dollars +110
Under 12 Million Dollars -150
2009 Kentucky Derby - Winning Saddlecloth Number
2009 Kentucky Derby - What will be the winner of the 135th Kentucky Derby's starting gate?
Gates 1-5 1/1
Gates 6-10 5/1
Gates 11-15 9/2
Gates 16-20 7/1
2009 Kentucky Derby - Which will be greater, the margin of victory between the Derby winner and second place finisher or the second place finisher and third place finisher?
Winner - 2nd Place -180
2nd Place - 3rd Place +140
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will a Todd Pletcher trained horse win the 135th Kentucky Derby
Yes (Todd Pletcher Horse Wins 135th Kentucky Derby) +400
No (Todd Pletcher Horse Wins 135th Kentucky Derby) -900
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will Todd Pletcher have a horse finish in the Top 3 of the 135th Kentucky Derby
Yes (Todd Pletcher Trained Horse Finishes Top 3) -200
No (Todd Pletcher Trained Horse Finishes Top 3) +155
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin Racing trained horse win the 135th Kentucky Derby
Yes (Godolphin Racing Horse Wins 135th Kentucky Derby) +850
No (Godolphin Racing Horse Wins 135th Kentucky Derby) -1700
2009 Kentucky Derby - Will Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin Racing have a horse finish in the Top 3 of the 135th Kentucky Derby
Yes (Godolphin Racing Horse Finishes Top 3) +250
No (Godolphin Racing Horse Finishes Top 3) -375
2009 Kentucky Derby – Godolphin Racing Head to Head – Desert Party vs Regal Ransom
Desert Party -125
Regal Ransom -105
Written by John Pricci