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Breaking Down The Derby

Posted by Pete Mitchell on 4/30/2010 2:59:40 PM
  • Who: Thoroughbreds – Lookin At Lucky; Super Saver; Paddy O’Prado; Awesome Act
  • What: Horse Racing Betting Tips – The Kentucky Derby
  • Where: Churchill Downs
  • When: Saturday, May 1st

The Kentucky Derby is finally upon us, and the late defections were huge! Strong favorite Eskendereya was sidelined earlier in the week with an ankle problem, and the talented Endorsement was removed from the lineup just hours before the post position draw, also due to injury. The loss of the favorite should make this a more wide-open affair, and a more daunting handicapping challenge. Let’s get to work!

I’ve had mixed results over the years handicapping this race. It’s more difficult than most to analyze because the participants have yet to run this far (1 ¼ miles), many have never raced at Churchill Downs, and with the spread of synthetic surfaces, some have never raced on dirt. Throw in the 20-horse fields that have become the norm, and it becomes clear why this is a tough race to profit from. Bear in mind, however, that when you’re right, the opportunity for a big score makes it all worthwhile.


With rain in the forecast for Saturday, it will be important to identify horses that have performed well on “off” tracks, or at least worked well in the sloppy conditions that they encountered during their Derby preparations here. Due to space constraints, I’ll focus on the horses that I believe will perform well on Saturday, in order of preference:

#4-Super Saver:  This horse loves Churchill Downs, having won The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes by open lengths in his final start as a 2YO. He’s training great, and should be ready for a top effort in the third race of his form cycle. Having Calvin Borel aboard won’t hurt either. Super Saver should out-break the three horses to his inside, and settle into a rail-skimming trip several lengths behind the early pace-setters. He’s bred to love the distance (Tomlinson Distance Rating of 364), and should be strong in the stretch. Note he broke his maiden by seven lengths in the slop at Belmont, so the weather shouldn’t be an issue. The pick.

#1-Lookin At Lucky: He might be the best horse in the race, but he drew the worst post. Trainer Bob Baffert says he’s a much better horse on dirt than synthetics, and he may have to be to overcome the Derby’s heavy traffic. He’s bred to like the off going, and has trained super in the slop since his arrival in Kentucky. He’ll be tough to hold off if jockey Garrett Gomez can work out a trip.

#16-Awesome Act: His problems in The Wood are well-documented…he did well to finish third, missing second by a head. Jeremy Noseda loves the way his horse has trained at Churchill, handling the mud in his final work with no problems whatsoever. The distance should be well within his scope (Tomlinson Distance Rating of 300), and he should get plenty of pace to set up his late run. Post 16 should enable regular rider Julien Leparoux to steer clear of early trouble. Look out for this horse if he gets the jump on fellow mid-packer Lookin At Lucky.

#10-Paddy O’Prado: Derby clocker and DRF handicapper Mike Welsch loves the way this horse is training at Churchill, particularly in the slop. ‘Paddy has had three straight races at 1 1/8th miles as a 3YO, so he should be plenty fit. Worth a stab underneath in the exotics at odds of 15-1 or better.

I’ve tossed out the speed horses and deep closer Ice Box, who could regress off his Florida Derby win. The filly Devil May Care fits here, but will be overbet.

Those are my horse racing betting tips for The Kentucky Derby. Best of luck and happy gambling!

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