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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


By David Valento

Demand a Big Price —

The Track Phantom made two serious Kentucky Derby future book bets in my lifetime. I bet Tejano Run at 40-1 in February 1995 and watched him run a gallant second in the Kentucky Derby three months later. I made a larger bet on Firing Line (at 125-1) in 2015 after he broke his maiden in November. He also ran second in the Derby (to American Pharoah) in a race where he had every chance to win.

I didn’t cash either bet but did get a lot of mileage up to and in the Kentucky Derby. I made a pretty big “hedge” bet keying American Pharoah over Firing Line in the superfecta to cover my large ticket in the Derby. I walked away with a decent profit and some bragging rights given how well Firing Line ran that year.

The favorite right now for the 2020 Derby is the Barclay Tagg trained Tiz the Law.

He’s won both of his starts in impressive fashion. He overcame much trouble to win the Grade 1 Champagne in an effort that opened many eyes as a serious colt. The NY-bred is campaigned by the same outfit that had the 2003 Kentucky Derby winner, Funny Cide.

But if you’re betting a horse to win a race six-months from now, you better get a price that is worthy of the myriad of obstacles one must overcome to even find his way into the starting gate. Taking 8-1, no matter how talented the runner, is a foolish bet. Tiz the Law may win but how far under 8-1 will he be on Derby Day? The favorite is normally in the 4-1 to 6-1 range. Save your money now and double up on Derby Day if he warrants your action then.

I would isolate your selection to a runner 75-1 or higher this far out. The colt who has my attention right now is the Brad Cox trained Answer In.

Answer In was seemingly eliminated in his debut when he broke some five lengths slow from the dreaded inside post. He made such a strong move on the backside that the rider had to wrangle him in and he was fighting the whole time. Once he was allowed to run, he scampered away and looked a winner until South Bend (a 3 for 3 stakes winner) nailed him in a tough photo.

The next start was nothing more than a public workout as he always looked a winner and easily won by nearly six lengths. The third place finisher was seven clear of the rest.

The sire, Dialed In, won the 2011 Florida Derby and was 8th in the Kentucky Derby. He had a difficult trip before making a decent move late in the race.

Dialed In is the sire of Gunnevera, a winner of $5.5M and most recently third in the $12M Dubai World Cup. He was at his best going the Derby distance of a mile and a quarter.

Brad Cox is one of the up and coming trainers who will soon be mentioned along with Bob Baffert and Chad Brown, if not done so already. He seems destined to win a Kentucky Derby sooner than later.

Answer In is currently 90-1 on the William Hill future book line

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