Kentucky Derby 139: The Picks

There are distance questions. His morning workouts- including his breeze last Saturday- were relatively quiet compared to others.  The Wood Memorial set up perfectly for him and he did not win convincingly. He is similar to Gemologist (my top pick last year), which means he’ll fold Saturday.

I’ve heard all of it, but my eyes- looking at replays, gallops, and paper- keep telling me Verrazano is the most talented 3-year-old in his class. The 14 post should allow him to be in a comfortable spot towards the front and hopefully out of the way of inevitable trouble on the inside. He has the speed, class, and I believe pedigree. Too often the dam side of Derby horses is ignored. The average winning distance of damsire Giant’s Causeway was 8.2 furlongs- the second longest of any horse in the Derby field. According to clocker reports, looked good galloping over a sloppy Churchill track.

Yes, another one with distance questions. I’m on the side that believes he needed the Florida Derby after a layoff and will improve Saturday. Could run a similar race as Verrazano by stalking on the outside. His speed figures prove he should be on the top shelf. One of the few in the Derby to race on a sloppy track… and in that contest ended up winning a sprint stakes by 4-lenghts. Back to pedigree: there are troubling distance signs on both sides, but to label Lawyer Ron a miler is completely ignoring his multiple Grade 1 signature wins at 9 furlongs.

Speed figures suggests this horse is not what he was as 2-year-old, but the Arkansas Derby (G1) win was visually the most impressive final prep of any other horse in the Derby. Should be coming from the back in the end and just needs daylight to open up his stride. Sire Dixie Union was not known for producing distance horses until last year’s Belmont winner Union Rags shattered that perception. The dam side shows some promise too. Keep in mind, this is his third race off the long layoff and he’s trending upward.

Notable horses not included and why:
Orb- Tough to bet against considering last four races and reports on his workouts and gallops at Churchill Downs.  Watching replays I noticed that every one of his victories comes from making a wide move into the turn.  You would think post 16 would allow him to do that Saturday, but this is a horse that likes to stay back. I’m betting the crowded field won’t allow that wide run.

Goldencents- I can’t shake his San Felipe from my mind, despite the Santa Anita Derby win and trainer Doug O’Neill’s belief in his improvement. I don’t think Goldencents will like the early pressure from all sides he will get Saturday. Distance concerns as well.

Revolutionary- Simply don’t like the post. In more cases than not, the first three posts are smashed towards the rail in the opening stages of the Derby. It helps he comes from the back of the pack, but that’s a lot of traffic to dart in and out of after a possible troubled start. Will the jockeys really open up the rail again for Borel? If the track is sealed, I might have to reconsider however.