Who will win the Kentucky Derby?
It's time for the Run for the Roses. I have the Dan Fogelberg song queued up on my iPod and a pot of Mint Julep syrup sitting in the fridge. Good times.
Last year I went through a simple 8-step program to show you how to pick a Kentucky Derby winner. Although I didn't pick Barbaro last year, after five questions my system narrowed the 20-horse field to five contenders that included the $11,418.40 trifecta. So, ignore the method at your own risk. I also highly recommend the Louisville Courier-Journal's Data Track feature that lets you pick and choose specific criteria to help you come up with a winner.
So who is going to win Saturday's race? Uh, I don't know. Really. What I think I know is that the race will not have a fast pace. It will not be won be either a front runner or a deep grinding closer. It will be won by the horse who produces the quickest acceleration around the final turn.
I've narrowed the field to Curlin, Street Sense, Scat Daddy, Any Given Saturday, Hard Spun & Zanjero. Uh, that's too many. Let's see:
- Curlin won the Arkansas Derby with what can only be described as "dismissive ease". But, who did he beat? No one. In recent years, Smarty Jones & Afleet Alex came out of Arkansas and set the Triple Crown world on fire. But both of those colts were known commodities. They were good two-year olds who were already near the top of most Derby lists. Curlin, on the other hand, didn't race at two. You have to go back to the 19th century to find the last Derby winner who didn't race at two. Next!
- Scat Daddy is a horse who likes to fight stretch battles and win races. But, like Curlin he hasn't really been beating the best horses. He's tough and admirable and I'm sure he'll run a good race, I just don't think he's good enough to win it.
- Hard Spun is probably the fastest horse in the race. He's by the great Danzig so he's also among the best bred horses in the field. My problem with Hard Spun is his human connections. They hemmed and hawed about where and when to run the colt. As a result, he hasn't raced in six or seven weeks. You can't be that way about the Derby. The race is too hard to win by chance.
- Zanjero is on my list mainly because he's the prettiest Derby horse since Fusaichi Pegasus and I'd love to see him win. He's an honest stretch runner who'll probably be in the mix for 3rd or 4th.
So that leaves Street Sense and Any Given Saturday. These two hooked up in the Tampa Bay Derby earlier this year. After a stirring stretch battle, Street Sense won by a head. It was easily the best prep race of the season and I think it marked these colts as the best of their generation. Both horses lost their next race, but that doesn't bother me. A tough race takes a lot out of a horse and often they'll "bounce" and run worse in their next race. With the bounce out of the way, look for both of them to rebound in a big way in the Derby.
Any Given Saturday is exactly the type of horse I usually pick to win the Derby. He's out of a daughter of my favorite stallion, A.P. Indy. His outside post in the Derby, post 18, might actually work to his advantage because he'll be forced to take back and make one big run, which I think fits his running style better.
Street Sense had a spectacular workout last week. He's already won at Churchill Downs. Sure, no Breeders Cup Juvenile winner has ever won the Derby, but I find it hard to hold winning a race against a horse. He's got the turn of foot to get to the lead and the fight to stay there. Plus, he's trained by Carl Nafzger and the Derby Gods will want to reward Carl for how sweet he was to Frances Genter (who actually is one of the Derby Gods now) when Unbridled won the Derby back in 1990.
I think that Hard Spun will be in the lead after a mile, but Scat Daddy will pass him on the turn. Street Sense will bound up alongside Scat Daddy, who'll put up a good fight, but Street Sense will put him away midway through the stretch. Zanjero and Any Given Saturday will be closing like wild horses, but it won't be enough. Street Sense is your winner!
Next year, look out for Thrust.
Who do you like?
Posted by at May 3, 2007 11:20 AM
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|# May 5th, 2007 5:28 PM kris|
|Wooooo! Yay Street Sense! |
|# May 5th, 2007 6:35 PM james|
|i think street sense will win |
|# May 6th, 2007 10:10 AM kris|
|Some data to put Street Sense's win in perspective:
1997 - 3/4 in 1:12 1/5, mile in 1:37 flat, finish in 2:02 2/5, the winner is the stalking Silver Charm
1998 - 3/4 in 1:10.62, mile in 1:35.61, finish in 2:02.38, winner is the closer Real Quiet.
1999 - 3/4 in 1:12.52, mile in 1:37.58, finish in 2:03.29, the winner is the stalker Charismatic.
2000 - 3/4 in 1.09.99, mile in 1:35.74, finish in 2:01.12, winner is the deep closer Fusaichi Pegasus.
2001- 3/4 in 1:09.25, mile in 1:35, finish in 1.59.97, winner is the deep closer Monarchos.
2002 - 3/4 in 1:11.75, mile in 1:36.70, finish in 2:01.13, winner is the front runner War Emblem.
2003 - 3/4 in 1:10.48, mile in 1:35.75, finish in 2:01.19, winner is the stalker Funny Cide.
2004 - 3/4 in 1:11.88, mile in 1:37.35, finish in 2:04.06, winner is the stalker Smarty Jones.
2005 - 3/4 in 1:09.59, mile in 1:35.88, finish in 2:02.75, winner is the deep closer Giacomo.
2006 - 3/4 in 1:10.88, mile in 1:37.02, finish in 2:01.36, winner is the stalker Barbaro
2007 - 3/4 in 1:11.13, mile in 1:37.04, finish in 2:02.17, winner is the deep closer Street Sense
Looking to the recent past, you'll notice that most Derbies won by closers have a 3/4 time around 1:09, which is a DAMN fast pace. Obviously, it's much easier for closers to win if the horses in front of them are tired because they ran fast early.
Yesterday, Street Smart closed into a very moderate pace. The race played out a lot like the 2005 Derby won by Smarty Jones, except in that case Smarty was nicely sitting just off the leader while this year Street Sense was waaaaay back.
I'm ultra impressed by his race and I can't wait to see what he does in the Preakness.