AKA Erin and Frank tackle the Derby
My wife Erin and I decided to do a joint Derby analysis this year. Which is a fancy way of saying that she told me that doing a joint analysis would be a good idea. In a surprising twist — which is to say not surprising at all — I concurred. Et voila.
So, below, wherever you see, “My Wife Knows Everything,” you can assume Erin is speaking. And wherever you see, “The Wife Doesn’t Know,” you can assume that I am getting myself in trouble. Again. But you know: in for a dime, in for a dollar.
The Wife Doesn’t Know!: So, before we start this, let’s get one thing out on the table. You hit the Derby about 96 different ways last year and needed a Sherpa to get your winnings from the facility.
My Wife Knows Everything!: I wasn’t going to mention that.
The Wife Doesn’t Know!: Err. Sure you weren’t.
My Wife Knows Everything!: But now that you mention it, well, that’s all true. Thanks, Tenzing! But anyway, what do you think the pace is going to look like for the Derby?
The Wife Doesn’t Know!: I think the most important horse here is Trinniberg — not because he can win but because he figures to be the speed of the speed, and he has the potential to blow the race up for the other speed horses, like Take Charge Indy, Bodemeister, and Hansen, and to a lesser extent horses like Gemologist and I’ll Have Another.
My Wife Knows Everything!: And if that happens, who do you think’ll be running late?
The Wife Doesn’t Know!: Well, I figure Rousing Sermon, Done Talking, and Optimizer are probably the deepest closers. But some others, like Dullahan, Prospective, and Creative Cause also figure to be running on late.
My Wife Knows Everything!: So it won’t be a horse wiring the field, since most likely it’ll be Trinniberg on the lead. The question’s going to be how the race plays out: do they let Trinniberg go and assume he comes back to the field, which he will? Or do they go with him? Because if they do, the pace could be really hot.
The Wife Doesn’t Know!: Exactly. And if they don’t, it might end up fast for Trinniberg but solid but fair for everyone else. And you have to wonder what the plan is for Hansen. He rated nicely in the Gotham and looked great, then made all the pace in the Bluegrass and got passed by Dullahan. Anyway, enough pace; let’s go through them horse by horse.
|Horse||My Wife Knows Everything!||The Wife Doesn’t Know!|
|1. Daddy Long Legs (30-1)||I have the greatest respect for trainer Aidan O’Brien. But he’s got the rail, coming in from Dubai, and hasn’t had success on dirt. Pass.||Agreed. He didn’t run a step in the Juvenile, and I don’t think he will here.|
|2. Optimizer (50-1)||Hall of Famer Wayne Lukas won with Charismatic at 30-1. But this horse is no Charismatic.||If Optimizer wins, I’m having John Scheinman eat his hat.|
|3. Take Charge Indy (15-1)||I can’t throw this guy out. He won the Florida Derby with a good trip, but he did win, and, like that day, Calvin Bo-rail is up. And we know how much he likes Churchill.||I hear you. Sure, he controlled the pace in Florida, but he kicked home nicely, too. And while he did that in front, he ran willingly enough in the Juvenile to suggest he might be able to be mid-pack and still run on. Plus, he’s moved forward since the Juvenile; I’m not sure the top horses that day, Hansen and Union Rags, really have.|
|4. Union Rags (9-2)||I like this horse. I think the Florida Derby was pilot error, and I think jock Julien Leparoux will do a better job in the Derby. He’s been working well over the track, and he’s done everything right so far. I’m definitely considering him.||You like this guy more than I do. He’s a good horse and could win, but 9-2 is too short, and he may go off as the favorite. Plus, I feel like in his two defeats, yes, he had excuses, but he had chances to overcome those excuses and couldn’t do it.|
|5. Dullahan (8-1)||If this race were on synthetic, he’d be a major player. But it’s not, I hear he has not worked that well at Churchil, and I’ll pass.||He whipped the field impressively in the Bluegrass, but it was on synthetic. I think he’ll take some action at the windows, too, and I’ll probably pass.|
|6. Bodemeister (4-1)||I’m Hamlet on this horse: toss him because no horse has won this race without a two year-old start in more than 130 years. Keep him in because, face it, he’s best here. Toss him because his odds are short. I’ll play him in horizontal wagers, and if he wins, we may be looking at a Triple Crown winner.||He’s awfully good: three 100+ Beyers, including a 108 which is miles the best here. The question: will he get burned up in the pace? Plus, I think Beyer and my friend the Kiss of Death both like him, which probably is enough to knock him out of the top spot.|
|7. Rousing Sermon (50-1)||Pass. There wasn’t much in the Louisiana Derby, but he still finished third.||This is the sort of horse I usually talk myself into. Not this year, though; he’s lost to too many of these.|
|8. Creative Cause (12-1)||He has a nice foundation and has never been out of the money. He beat the favorite here two back, and he’s in my mix although his workouts this week have not been great.||I like this guy. He’s green, which has hurt him, but he has tactical speed, can pass horses in the lane, and I think he might be sitting on a big effort.|
|9. Trinniberg (50-1)||He’ll be first early, 19th or 20th at the wire.||I think that’s about right.|
|10. Daddy Nose Best (15-1)||He clearly took a step forward in his last, getting off the turf and synthetic. But he had two poor starts at Churchill. He has the right style to win and I can’t throw him out.||I feel like he’s not quite as good as he looks. I think the Sunland Derby was more about other horses stopping than him running on, and that won’t be good enough here.|
|11. Alpha (15-1)||Probably a wise-guy horse. He took the worst of the trip in the Wood and nearly got there. I like him better than Gemologist, especially given the odds, but I don’t see him taking the top spot.||I think if you watch the Wood again, you might feel differently. He had dead aim on Gemologist and couldn’t get by. It looked to me like Gemologist is really the alpha of this pair, and that suggests trouble for this guy in the Derby.|
|12. Prospective (30-1)||He won’t win, but he could clunk up to round out the super.||Prospective is not winning the Kentucky Derby.|
|13. Went the Day Well (20-1)||The obvious comparison — to the same connections’ Animal Kingdom, who went from winning last year’s Spiral to getting the roses — is a false one. This guy has two dirt starts, and neither one suggests Derby quality. Pass.||I doubt that his day will go very well at all.|
|14. Hansen (10-1)||Hansen sure is pretty to watch, but I don’t think he’ll be able to hold off the closers late.||I’m not sure about this guy. I feel like in his two defeats, the winners went right by him, so I have to agree that it’ll be hard for him to hold off the closers. Plus, I think Trinniberg’s being here may hurt him as much or more than any other horse.|
|15. Gemologist (6-1)||I said he wouldn’t win the Wood, so look what I know. But I’ll say it again here: he won’t win the Kentucky Derby.||He’s really good: five-for-five, with two wins at Churchill, has to count for something. And I think he was definitely best in the Wood. He’s got a live shot.|
|16. El Padrino (20-1)||I think a wet track moves him up. But not enough to win this race.||I don’t know what he beat in the Risen Star, and if you want him here, you’ve got to figure out how he beats two horses that beat him in the Florida Derby. Pass.|
|17. Done Talking (50-1)||I’ll be rooting for the local connections, trainer Ham Smith and jockey Sheldon Russell. He’s not good enough to win, but if the pace blows up, he just might show up in the super or even the triple.||I agree; I think this horse is better than people think. He’s run twice at nine furlongs and closed stoutly both times, which he’ll need to do in this race. I’ll have a couple bucks on him for fun, and I expect him to pass more horses than most anticipate.|
|18. Sabercat (30-1)||I have a futures bet on Sabercat because of the Delta Jackpot win. But I don’t think he’s good enough.||He’s another who presumably will be running late, but it’s hard to see him getting there.|
|19. I’ll Have Another (12-1)||Not my favorite, but I can’t throw him out. He just beat Creative Cause last out, and that one beat the favorite here.||He sure hasn’t done much wrong. But he feels betwixt and between to me: he’s going to be up close to the pace, and if you’re looking for who survives that, you’re probably looking elsewhere. And if the pace melts down, then you’re not looking for him either.|
|20. Liaison (50-1)||He’s my last “No” in the field.||I agree. He was spanked in the San Felipe, he was spanked in the Santa Anita Derby, and I think he’s probably in for another spanking here.|
The Wife Doesn’t Know!: Whew! Glad that’s done. So where does it all leave us?
My Wife Knows Everything!: Well, seems to me that we have three horses we agree on: Bodemeister, Union Rags, and Creative Cause. Right?
The Wife Doesn’t Know!: I guess. I think I would feel too stupid throwing Union Rags out completely. I’m also intrigued by Gemologist, which I know you’re not.
My Wife Knows Everything!: No. But I like a couple of others, too. Take Charge Indy, for example, and Daddy Nose Best.
The Wife Doesn’t Know!: And of course, you’re reserving all rights to change your mind tomorrow.
My Wife Knows Everything!: Of course.
The Wife Doesn’t Know!: Well, whatever you do, don’t forget to hire a Sherpa. Just in case.
My Wife Knows Everything!: Right. And good luck!