For those of you tuning in to read (A) a rant, (B) adorable anecdotes concerning my offspring, (C) incoherent rambling or (D) all of the above, you may now stop reading. Because this year, I'm putting my Kentucky Derby handicap commentary down in writing. To be fair, incoherent rambling may be involved.
Disclaimer: I have not actually picked a Derby Winner since Real Quiet in 1998. (I may have picked Big Brown in 2008, but I don't think so.) Also, the Derby is notorious for doing the exact opposite of what everyone thinks it will do.
Disclaimer #2: The field hasn't actually been set yet. This is just based on who has enough points to be in it this year. P.S. The point system is about as screwed up as the electoral college and biased against fillies. Shocker! Hey, I did end up ranting!
This is based on ESPN's top ten picks as they rank them (not me). I probably should go with the Daily Racing Form but it's not that different and it's easier to find things on ESPN.com which is a crime. Am I allowed one more caveat, or have I used those up? Most of these horses don't actually have jockeys yet. It's kind of crazy, but a lot of them had the same rider, so now we have to wait to see which mount that rider chooses.
1. ORB - Won the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby.
Why I Don't Like Him: He's still in Florida. I don't like any horses who haven't gotten their butts to Kentucky yet. Travel is stress. Stress is not good. Reason #2, Velazquez rode him in both his wins and Velazquez is sticking with trainer Todd Pletcher in the Derby and riding Verrazano. I trust Velazquez more than I trust ESPN and the crazy point system.
2. VERRAZANO - Won the Tampa Bay Derby
Why I Don't Like Him: I don't give a whole lot of credit to the TB Derby as a prep race, but other than that, I don't have a whole heck of lot of reason to dislike him. Just don't see it. He will probably win. Velazquez obviously thinks so.
3. REVOLUTIONARY - Won the Louisiana Derby
Why I Like Him: So Costellano picked Normandy Invasion instead, but Calvin Borel immediately picked Revolutionary up. Great jockey (had won the derby 3 times in recent years) and great trainer (Pletcher again). Also, he's in Kentucky.
4. NORMANDY INVASION - 2nd in the Wood Memorial
Why I Like Him: Seems odd, since he didn't win a single prep race, but Javier Costellano picked him over Revolutionary and as I previously stated, I trust jockeys. He will also get two workouts in Kentucky prior to the Derby. However, this is pretty much just a gut feeling.
5. GOLDENCENTS - Won the Santa Anita Derby
Why I Don't Like Him: The SAD is a fantastic race. But there were only nine horses in it. It was completely clean. And this horse is still sitting in California. Won't even look at him.
6. ITSMYLUCKYDAY - Won the Holy Bull Stakes
Why I Don't Like Him: He's still in Florida and doesn't plan on getting to Kentucky until the 26th. Otherwise, just not impressed.
7. OVERANALYZE - Won the Arkansas Derby
Why I Don't Like Him: He came in 5th in the Gotham. See below. He is already in Kentucky though.
8. JAVA'S WALK - Won the Blue Grass
Why I Like Him: I have a soft spot for the Blue Grass despite no horse winning from that prep races in eons and it being a synthetic track. He also came 2nd to Verrazano in the Tampa Bay which was his first race. He's only raced twice. He's really fresh and already in Kentucky. Also, you should see how wide he had to make that final quarter turn and still won. Yeah, I have to say I'm leaning towards this guy.
9. VYJACK - Won the Gotham
Why I Don't Like Him: Who the hell cares about the Gotham? No one. That's who. He came in 3rd in the Wood and now has mucus in his lungs that he's receiving treatments for. How is this horse even in the top 10? The only thing he currently has going for him is jockey Garrett Gomez. Mark my words, Gomez will not be riding this horse in the Derby.
10. WILL TAKE CHARGE - Won the Rebel Stakes
Why I Like Him: Trainer D. Wayne Lukas (racing god) had him skip the Arkansas Derby to stay fresh, which is a decision I like. One of the horses already in Kentucky.
So here are my Early Picks:
1. Java's Walk
2. Normandy Invasion
4. Will Take Charge
And here is my long shot. Oxbow. This horse does have enough points to be in the Derby. He has finished no less than fourth in the four graded stakes he has entered, including a second place finish to Will Take Charge in the Rebel. Also trained by Lukas. He had Jon Court aboard when he won the Lecomte and Mike Smith in the Rebel. Great jockeys that will definitely be riding someone in the Derby. Here is the interesting fact. KentuckyDerby.com has Gary Stevens listed as his jockey. Um...Gary Stevens has been retired since 2005! If this is for real and Stevens (my second favorite jockey behind retired Jerry Bailey) really gets on him, there is no way I wouldn't put money on that horse. Gary Stevens could be living in a retirement home and just come out of a coma and I would put money on him.