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Bombs Away in The Kentucky Derby

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 5/6/2011 4:34:18 PM
  • Who: Thoroughbreds – Archarcharch, Shackleford, Animal Kingdom, Soldat
  • What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Kentucky Derby
  • Where: Churchill Downs
  • When: Saturday, May 7th

With the unfortunate defection of an ailing Uncle Mo, the 2011 Kentucky Derby field has been reduced to 19 starters. Morning line favorite, Dialed In (4-1), may go off at an even higher price, so value abounds no matter which direction you’re looking in. I’m taking a position against the chalk, and looking at several horses ranging from 10-1 to 30-1 (and I like the 30-1 shot the best)!

First, the horses I don’t like. Dialed In has developed rapidly, but with just four races under his belt, he spots seasoning to many in this field. His Beyer Speed Figures (lifetime best of 97) don’t distinguish him either. Finally, it took him the length of the stretch to overhaul 68-1 shot Shackleford in The Florida Derby, in one of the slowest runnings of that race in years. Finally, there’s the potential for traffic trouble in this huge field. He’s a deep closer, so racing luck will play a huge part in his trip. I’m passing on this potential underlay.

Second choice Nehro (6-1) is the darling of many off his fast-closing second to Archarcharch in The Arkansas Derby. He faces the same traffic issues as Dialed In. Also, his training at Churchill Downs hasn’t been overly impressive. Pass again. Mucho Macho Man can be forgiven for his loss last out in The Louisiana Derby, a race in which he lost a shoe. He’s a hard-hitting, consistent runner, but I can’t get past his Tomlinson Distance Rating of 188*. Also, he hasn’t raced in six weeks. Midnight Interlude (10-1) didn’t start as a 2YO, which is the kiss of death for Derby runners.

Now, for the ones I like. Although Archarcharch (10-1) barely held off Nehro in The Arkansas Derby, his effort was more impressive. This horse has a more explosive turn of foot than Nehro, which is often what it takes to win the Run for the Roses. He has trained sharply at Churchill, and raced well here in his career debut to finish second despite a troubled trip. If regular rider Jon Court can work out a trip from the rail, this horse will be a major stretch factor.

Shackleford (12-1) never seems to get much respect at the windows. He has been sent off at odds of 17-1 or higher in 4-of-5 lifetime starts, yet has managed a pair of wins and a game second in The Florida Derby. One of those wins came right here at Churchill Downs…always a huge plus in this race. With Uncle Mo out of the mix, this horse will encounter less early pressure on the lead. Look for this huge chestnut, who has trained brilliantly under the Twin Spires, to take this field a long way on the front end.

Soldat (12-1) ate a lot of dirt in The Florida Derby while bogged down on the rail. That race is probably a toss out. Looking at the balance of his record, you’ll notice that Soldat finished first or second in his previous seven starts. He trained well in Florida, and looked the picture of health upon his arrival in Kentucky. Soldat is bred to handle the Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles, and should work out a trouble-free, stalking trip from Post 17. He offers value at odds of 10-1 or higher.

My pick to win the 137th Running of The Kentucky Derby is Animal Kingdom (30-1). True, like Mucho Macho Man, he hasn’t raced in six weeks. He’s lightly raced, with only four starts. He hasn’t raced on dirt either, which is a major question mark. Still, he trained beautifully over the Churchill main oval, breezing six furlongs on April 30th in a sprightly 1:13. He’s in the expert hands of trainer Graham Motion, who never pushes his horses to make a date. Animal Kingdom is bred to run all day, and has made up ground in the stretch of all of his races. He’s got a pair of wins and a pair of seconds to show for his efforts. With no clear-cut favorite, and an honest pace expected, I’m looking for Animal Kingdom to come storming down the stretch and vault to the head of the 3YO class with an emphatic win in this year’s Run for the Roses! I’ll bet him across the board at odds of 15-1 or better, and hook him up in exotics with Archarcharch, Shackleford and Soldat.

Those are my horse racing betting tips for this year’s Kentucky Derby. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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