Adequan Presents Derby Capsule: The Final Symphony

Here we are just two days away from the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby. The pleasant weather forecast suggests we could have close to or more than 170,000 people on hand for the race on Saturday, and it won’t be surprising to have a $200 million all-sources handle for the Derby this year.

The question is, who do you bet all that money on?

If you go back to the first Kentucky Derby Future Wager, the clear choice, aside from the field, was Bolt d’Oro at 7-1. Juvenile champ Good Magic was second at 11-1. Mendelssohn was a paltry 31-1.

Fast-forwarding to Pool 2, Bolt d’Oro remained in first place at 8-1, and Good Magic was also nailed at 8-1, while Audible snuck into 2nd at 9-1. Mendelssohn was 44-1.

In Pool 3, Justify grabbed the lead at 6-1; Bolt d’Oro stuck at 7-1. Good Magic 11-1; Audible was 4th at 13-1 and Mendelssohn was still 28-1.

Finally in Pool 4, Justify came in at 3-1, Mendelssohn at 5-1, Audible at 7-1, Magnum Moon 8-1 and Bolt d’Oro and Good Magic at 9-1. That’s essentially where we are now. With that as a backdrop, below is my final Derby Capsule analysis, in order.

Mendelssohn (5-1): When Bob Baffert says he’s worried about a rival, I pay attention. It’s intriguing that Rayya, whom Mendelssohn beat in the UAE Derby by almost 19 lengths, ended up in Baffert’s barn and will be a serious threat in the Kentucky Oaks. Baffert said she’s an excellent filly. I get all the concern about the speed-favoring Dubai surface but how often has a horse won a Breeders’ Cup race on turf at 2, then shipped to Dubai and won by almost 19 in his first start over the dirt? Never. He’s something special. While Justify has won three races at Santa Anita, this guy has won on three continents already. STATUS: WINNER, WINNER CHICKEN DINNER

Justify (3-1): Sometimes, it’s like spitting into the wind to play against a Kentucky Derby favorite like this. He’s a fast horse and Bob Baffert gets and develops fast horses. Justify looks like Hulk Hogan in his prime but his three races have come over the same track without much of a fight. Putting the whole Apollo thing aside, a decade ago Big Brown won the Derby off only three career races but I daresay he didn’t face a field like this one. That would be my case against. STATUS: OBVIOUS BEEFY WIN CONTENDER

Vino Rosso (12-1): Beyond Enticed, he didn’t beat much in the Wood, but jockey John Velazquez chose him for his Derby mount and said the 10-furlong distance was the reason. Love the Curlin x Street Cry mare cross, like his final fractions, and he fits the profile of recent Derby winners. Despite the Wood’s relative obscurity of late, he’s a serious threat to be picking them up in the stretch from mid-pack if the pace is stout, which it very well could be. Or he might not be good enough against the top echelon but still thrill Mike Repole by winning the Belmont in a few weeks with his grinding style. STATUS: OUTSIDE WIN CONTENDER, EXOTICS MUST

Good Magic (12-1): Trainer Chad Brown couldn’t be more pleased with how this colt is doing, coming off a victory in the Blue Grass following a disappointing 2018 debut in the Fountain of Youth. Brown said he was short for that race but has rounded into form and as he’s making the third start since his scintillating Breeders’ Cup Juvenile win, he should be ready to fire on Derby Day. His arc is eerily similar to Classic Empire last year, who won the Juvenile, fell short in the Holy Bull then won the Arkansas Derby. He wound up fourth in the Kentucky Derby and that’s where I have Good Magic. At his odds, a pretty good win bet. STATUS: WIN CONTENDER, LIKELY TO RUN A BIG RACE

Bolt d’Oro (8-1): A likable colt who seems to have the “it factor.” I question whether trainer Mick Ruis in his first Derby start can take down the Pletchers and Bafferts but if there’s one race historically where the newbies can prevail it’s the Derby. Gets a new jock in Victor Espinoza but I seem to recall Victor winning the Derby a time or two. STATUS: WIN OR BUST

Audible (8-1): Tip of the cap to the New York breeding program for producing in recent years top quality stock that is competing and winning at high levels. Audible has a chance to become the first NY-bred since Funny Cide to win the Derby. He’s won four in a row with increasing speed figs each time. He was victorious in the all-important Florida Derby, he’s ridden by Javier Castellano and trained by Todd Pletcher. It all sounds perfect on paper. I’m just missing that “it factor” I mentioned above. Can’t really explain it beyond that. STATUS: WIN CONTENDER WITH RESERVATIONS

Hofburg (20-1): Trainer Bill Mott was the youngest trainer ever inducted into the Hall of Fame (age 45), which obviously speaks to his resume and acumen. His best Derby finish in seven tries? Eighth. That speaks to the difficulty of winning the Derby, even for top trainers, and also to his conservative nature when it comes to placing a colt in the big race. This is his first since 2009 and quite possibly his best entry. After only three starts, Hofburg looks like he’s the real deal and could provide Mott’s best finish ever. I do not think that will be first place, but Hofburg will do something big this year. STATUS: RUNS WELL IN DEFEAT

Magnum Moon (6-1): Unbeaten in four starts, qualified with the most Derby points at 150, trained by Pletcher. The check marks pile up, except that he likes to drift in the stretch and in the Arkansas Derby, he had things pretty much his own way with a soft pace as the leader. I’m looking for a compelling reason he should be the top pick but struggling to find the one nugget that suggests he’s going to beat a Justify or Mendelssohn or even some of the others listed above him. Of the short prices, he’s out for me. STATUS: TOSS?

Flameaway (30-1): This is a pretty consistent horse. From his nine starts, he’s won five and finished second twice. He’s hit the exacta in every single one of his prep races this year, but in his only start at Churchill last year he was nowhere. He’s not fast enough to win the Derby, but he gives it his all every time, which could make him a contender to hang around for a piece. STATUS; I REPEAT, COULD HANG AROUND FOR A PIECE

My Boy Jack (30-1): The cheapest auction price in this field at $20,000, how can he not be a longshot to consider? Besides that, he has a deep-closing running style that is irresistible. He has the same Desormeaux brother connections as Exaggerator, who got second in the 2016 Derby, but the depth of this field means MBJ will be long odds no matter what. It won’t be surprising for him to be last early and a threat late. STATUS: TRI, SUPER MUST

Lone Sailor (50-1): He was a game second behind Noble Indy in the Louisiana Derby, which was a huge jump from his previous races. He’s been training at Churchill and likes it. Owned by Gayle Benson and the late New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson (who died in March), he makes for a compelling Derby story in a field devoid of great tales, so a horse to pull for. Aside from that, he has experience, can close and should certainly be on tri and super tickets if nothing else. STATUS: TRI, SUPER CONSIDERATION

Combatant (50-1): Remarkably one of four Scat Daddy colts in the field, he’s at the back of that quartet based on results. He hasn’t won since October, but he deserves points for closing from near-last in the Arkansas Derby with an extremely wide trip into a slow pace, where there was a blanket finish behind frontrunner Magnum Moon. His speed figures aren’t high enough to contend with the likes of Justify and Mendelssohn on paper but with a stiff pace in front of him, he could light up the tote at bomber odds underneath. Lookin’ at Lee anyone? STATUS: OUTSIDE EXOTICS CONSIDERATION

Noble Indy (30-1): His sire, Take Charge Indy, was a pretty good racehorse, forgetting his Kentucky Derby finish, which happens to be the the same as this guy’s post position, 19.  I don’t think that’s Noble Indy’s fate but I also don’t think he’s going to have an impact on this race. He got a rail trip in the Louisiana Derby, albeit at a decent pace, and he just held off the closers. Johnny V rode him in that race and the previous two and jumped ship to Vino Rosso. Not a good sign. If you like him for some reason, by all means bet him. I won’t. STATUS: MID-PACK TOSS

Solomini: (30-1): From what I understand, he’s not the easiest colt to ride or train, but he showed something in the Arkansas Derby that’s only visible from watching the replay. He was wide down the back and into the stretch and still finished with strong final fractions into a pretty slow pace. Don’t think he’s fast enough to win against this field, but he’s a a Curlin colt out of a Storm Cat mare trained by Baffert that could be a sneaky play at least underneath at big odds. STATUS: LIMITED EXOTICS POTENTIAL

Promises Fulfilled (30-1): His Florida Derby chances were destroyed by an early duel that had him going sub-22 for the first quarter although to be fair he did get something of a breather in the second quarter. I suspect he’s going to lead the Derby for a ways, but there are too many talented colts in here to let him steal away. In his best case scenario, he does what his sire Shackleford did in 2011 — take them a long way and fade to fourth. STATUS: POSSIBLY BOTTOM OF EXOTICS

Enticed (30-1): Some observers thought he should’ve been put up in the Wood after some bumping in the stretch and then his loss by three lengths. I don’t see it, especially with the head-on view. Looked pretty tame to me. He won the Gotham (against who?), before that was crushed in the Holy Bull. I like his sire, Medaglia d’Oro and dam It’s Tricky but I find it hard to make a case for him to beat the top contenders in this field. STATUS: ALSO-RAN

Free Drop Billy (30-1): I’ve seen nothing from him this year to indicate he’s a threat to win the Kentucky Derby. Sporting Chance swerved into him late in the Blue Grass, possibly costing him third but he wasn’t catching the top two. That’s not good enough. He’ll be an also-ran in the Derby, but because he’s a closer with a rail post, there’s a chance he could clunk up for fourth. Unlikely though. STATUS: TOSS, EXTREME OUTSIDE CHANCE OF SUPER

Instilled Regard (50-1): He kept trying in the Santa Anita Derby, I’ll give him that. But when’s the last time a colt won the Kentucky Derby finishing 10 lengths behind the winner in their final prep? I’m not going to look it up, but I know that in this century, only two horses have finished outside the exacta and won the Derby. Turns out, they were 50-1 bombs Giacomo and Mine That Bird, who both finished fourth like Instilled Regard did but they were 2-3 lengths from the winner. He does have a decent pedigree for the distance but too steep of a hill to climb. STATUS: ALSO-RAN

Bravazo (50-1): You never know when the “Coach” will strike, but losing by 21 lengths six weeks out from the Derby and then training up to it doesn’t sound like a winning formula. Besides, trainer D. Wayne Lukas said this week at (a spry) 82 years of age he’s most realistic about his chances. Even at his advanced age, ignoring Lukas in a big race is ill advised but it’s difficult to make a case for this Awesome Again colt to be much more than a gate-filler for this year’s Derby. STATUS: TOSS

Firenze Fire (50-1): This guy won the G3 Sanford at Saratoga last year, then the G1 Champagne Stakes. Since then, he has one victory from five starts and that was in a non-graded stakes; then he lost by 20 in the BC Juvenile and finished a combined 20 lengths behind in his last two starts. Oh, and drew the dreaded Derby rail. STATUS: DONE

Alas, in case you’re having trouble making your picks, here are some exotic plays to consider:

Classic-Sounding Superfecta
Mendelssohn
Vino Rosso
Hofburg
Noble Indy

The Positive Thinking Trifecta
Good Magic
Enticed
Promises Fulfilled

The Social Media Trifecta
Flameaway
Combatant
Bravazo

The “Your Name is Baffling” Trifecta
Instilled Regard
Firenze Fire
Free Drop Billy

The “Named After A Person” Superfecta
Bolt d’Oro
My Boy Jack
Free Drop Billy
Solomini

The Military Invasion Trifecta
Justify
Combatant
Lone Sailor

The European Superfecta
Firenze Fire (Florence in Italian)
Mendelssohn (German composer)
Hofburg (imperial palace in Austria)
Vino Rosso (red wine in Italian)

All-Closers Superfecta
My Boy Jack
Lone Sailor
Combatant
Solomini

New Yawk Trifecta
Audible (NY-bred)
Vino Rosso (Wood winner)
Enticed (Wood runner-up)

Cali Trifecta
Justify
Bolt d’Oro
Instilled Regard

Soo-Wee Trifecta
Magnum Moon
Solomini
Combatant

Sunshine Trifecta
Audible
Promises Fulfilled
Hofburg

Blue Grass Trifecta
Good Magic
Flameaway
Free Drop Billy

The “I Give Up Handicapping” Superfecta (also known as the “No One Hit It” Super)
Bravazo
Firenze Fire
Instilled Regard
Lone Sailor

The post Adequan Presents Derby Capsule: The Final Symphony appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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