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Online Kentucky Derby Betting - There Is No Road Map

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 4/20/2011 2:59:31 PM

There is no global positioning system yet invented that can map out the perfect road to take on the way to the Kentucky Derby but there are some methods tried and true and some that just plain don’t work.

Things have changed since the golden age of modern racing in the 1970s when Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed all swept the Crown but we can all learn from a little history so let’s look back, then forward to recent successes of Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex.

Secretariat started his sophomore season taking the Bay Shore at 7 furlongs in a disputed win. He came back in the mile Gotham, and won under a hand ride. But a blessing in disguise occurred in his next start when he had an abscess in his mouth and lost the 9-furlong Wood Memorial.

The rest is history. He was visually impresive in the Derby and Preakness, then put in arguably the greatest performance ever winning the Belmont by 31 lengths.

Seattle Slew kicked off his historic season winning a Hialeah allowance by 9, parlayed the Flamingo Stakes and Wood before reeling off the hat trick as the 10th Triple Crown winner and first unbeaten winner of that feat.

I had the pleasure of watching Affirmed’s quest in person at Santa Anita in 1978. He opened up the year taking an allowance by 5. He repeated in the San Felipe under Wonderkid Stevie Cauthen, who was replaced in the saddle by Laffit Pincay Jr. for the Santa Anita Derby in which he won by 8 lengths under wraps.

Affirmed’s Kentucky Derby win was a thing of beauty and he held off Alydar in the next 2 legs like a warriorwho just refused to lose.

Smarty Jones was from the ‘wrong side of the tracks’ being a Pennslyvania bred out of a dam who was sired by a sprinter. But he outran his pedigree by winning his first 8 races. He took the Count Fleet on the inner strip at the Big A, wintered in Hot Springs, Arkansas and turned the hat trick there taking the Southwest, Rebel, and Arkansas Derby.

He then handled the slop in Louisville the first Saturday in May, posted his highest career Beyer figure of 118 taking the Preakness but ran out of octane in the test of champions getting nailed late by Birdstone in the Belmont.

The Cinderella story of Afleet Alex started modestly at 3 also at Oaklawn as he overcame trouble to win a minor stakes. He folded up like a cheap suit in the Rebel but freaked by 8 in the Arkansas Derby. Arguably best in Louisville, Alex then posted one of the most amazing athletic feats ever witnessed in the Preakness before ending his career taking the Belmont by 7 widening lengths.

When handicapping this year’s Derby, focus on the proper conditioning and spacing of the races coming to the pinnacle test.

Coming to the Derby a horse can not miss an oat. His coat can’t be off, he can’t have a sniffle, he can’t take a bad step. It has to go just about perfectly for a win to materialize.

When listening to trainers speak as the Road to the Derby continues, try to read in between the lines. Some say trainers only lie when their mouths are moving, so put a grain of salt next to every time you hear the words, ‘we would not trade places with anybody’.

There is a reason there has not been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. It is a monumental feat for trainer and horse to be under the scrutiny and spotlight for 5 straight weeks. A horse has to be good enough and lucky enough and fit enough to go a mile and a quarter the first Saturday in May, then ship 500 miles to Baltimore and cut back in distance, then 3 weeks later go a mile and a half with the world looking on.

Lastly, don’t get caught up in the hype about who is SUPPOSED to win or who is the wise-guy horse. There is no such creature. There is no master plan about winning America’s most important race and those that own don’t always have to pony up gold bullions to get the big race. Consider that Funny Cide, War Emblem, Real Quiet, Silver Charm, and Seattle Slew cost collectively only $93,000.

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