- Derby Choices an Algebraic Equation
Horseplayers use all kinds of formulas to select winners. The potential for computations using speed figures, track variants, pace, and whatnot is unending. When picking the Derby, trackgoers reach down especially deep in their handicapping bag of tricks. But certain basics remain a constant, and we've come up with a formula to get a snapshot of the "playability" of the contenders...
(Form + Pedigree) / (Logic x Gut Feel) - Value = Derby Picks!!
Let's look at the field:
F+P: The obvious favorite is coming into the Derby off consecutive Grade I victories, the dominant FL Derby and the cautious Wood. He is bred to make 10f in his sleep and has been managed for this race by Bobby Frankel since the day he was foaled!
L+GF: Logic dictates that Empire Maker should be ready to run the best race of his career. He has improved in his 5 consecutive lifetime starts, has the best jockey in the game and a style that plays well historically the first Saturday in May. The gut feel is that EM should have it his own way, but must be free of the antics he has displayed before or during nearly every one of his starts.
(Personal note: As much as I'd like to, I cannot emotionally attach myself to a horse like this after the bitter and lingering disappointment of Point Given's "lost" Triple Crown two years ago.)
V: Will not provide value of course, with odds under 2-1 virtually assured, but must be on top or featured in every exotic ticket.
F+P: Frankel's "other" player makes his 9th start, 3rd off the layoff, riding a 4 race win skien including LA Derby and Blue Grass front end romps. More lightly campaigned in '03 than many, he is clearly in form, but as a son of Jules, may disagree with that extra 1/8 of a mile. Frankel voicing concern about it (a trainer rarity), but is willing to let Ed Gann's chestnut try.
L+GF: He will be on or right near the pace, and should be in the Top 3 turning for home. The gut feel is that he will struggle down the stretch if the early figures are anything hot (:47 or less for the half, 1:10.0 or less for 3/4). Have plenty of confidence in Prado to make the right moves though.
V: Likely 3rd public choice (6-1?), PR could key a nice exacta with anyone else but his stablemate paired up. Seems difficult to drop from Superfecta (Top 4) given he has been in the money 7 of 8 lifetime.
TEN MOST WANTED:
F+P: Closest to Empire in form, development and style, this IL Derby crusher looks sure to enjoy the 10th furlong as a son of Travers winner Deputy Commander. Has speed and added stamina from the Calumet dam topline as well as pilot (Day) who knows his way around the Churchill oval pretty well.
L+GF: No longer a wiseguy choice, Ten Most looks like the logical pick if you want to play against the fave. The feel is that Dollase's charge will 'pair up' races with his Hawthorne effort and be formidable under the Twin Spires.
V: Expecting 2nd choice status (9-2?) with Patient Pat aboard, and could easily be used as key horse in exotics. Tough to see anything but a money finish.
F+P: Different animal under Jeff Mullins, reeling off three Santa Anita Stakes swipes in a row while earning triple digit Beyers and low "sheets" figs. Gelding seems indominable near the wire, holding off Atswhat and Indian Express in the Felipe and SA Derby. Workout Monday indicates BG not yet "over the top", and though lineage doesn't guarantee 10f, it doesn't say impossible. Can stalk, pounce. Has 3 time Rose Blanket bearer aloft (Stevens) in probable Derby swansong.
L+GF: The head says "no", the heart says "why not". We've been a fan since he caught our eye in the Baldwin (27-1), and hyped him in the consequent wins. Feel he won't quit, but know he's up against it.
V: Should be a generous price again (14-1?), and would spice exotics. On my tickets, doesn't have to be on yours..
F+P: Hard to evaluate form off flat SA Derby, but likely bounced off back-to-back corkers. Could circle back to new career top for Ron Ellis, and absolutely pulses blood that gets Classic routes (AP Indy). Unraced at 2 (a prominent Derby "curse"), concerned about 6th start in 4 months. Competent Flores gets regular call.
L+GF: Logic says throw out Santa Anita debacle. Gut feel says throw out altogether. Never bought into hype of this one, and that name won't fit on a Derby glass! Could come flying late, but that's not a Derby winning style.
V: Still garnering support, and could be just below or above double digits (8-1, 12-1?). For those casting wider nets. Will use grudgingly underneath.
Funny Cide, Brancusi, Kafwain, Indian Express, Scrimshaw UP NEXT!!