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The final field is not yet complete, and with post position yet to be determined, and up to four possible also-eligibles, it’s obviously too soon to make any final Derby picks. On top of that, the TA model will crank out its rankings for Derby contenders when the morning line odds and program numbers are finalized, so I’m obviously getting ahead of things a little. Still, it’s good to be prepared, and you can always compare these picks to the rankings Big Blue spits out later in the week.
As things now stand, there’s going to be a lot of early speed in this race. Bodemeister, Hansen, Trinniberg, Take Charge Indy, I’ll Have Another, and the possible addition of My Adonis to about four other pace pressers, promise to keep things snappy right from the start.
It won’t surprise me if one of these speedsters survives the battle and finishes in the money, but it’s unlikely they all will, and the ones that don’t will probably be done by mid-stretch. This will open the door for mid to late-closers to win or at least fill out the superfecta.
After viewing all of the Derby preps, I have six horses marked with multiple “better than looked” or “legitimately impressive” performances (not necessarily in this order): Bodemeister, Hansen, Union Rags, Dullahan, Daddy Nose Best, and Prospective.
Hansen and Bodemeister both earned multiple marks as being tough competitors. Still, Trinniberg and the others are gonna make it tough up front. I think they are each going to keep the others out of the winner’s circle.
Dullahan also gets marks for overcoming a speed bias, and I think the argument that he can’t run on dirt is unfounded; he was the only one to make up ground in the BC Juve against many of these same tough competitors. Still, I worry about his breeding; he’s over 4.00 in dosage.
Union Rags also gets marks for his past two races. Still, I may be the only one who thought he should have overcome the trouble he found in the Floria Derby. I mean, it wasn’t a perfect trip, but a champion horse should be able to overcome some difficulty. Still, I do think he’s good, and it’s hard to overlook the trackside chatter about his impressive 5 furlong work on Saturday. He’s also good positionally, and if he’s good enough, he should get a good trip. He won’t be right on the lead, but he should be within striking range, and that’s a good place to be in the Derby.
Prospective is a late closer. He earned marks twice, but they were both for races at Tampa Bay, and then he wasn’t in the picture in the Bluegrass, and Dullahan was. He seems to be working well leading up to the Derby, and he could get in the tri, but I don’t think he’s a win candidate.
Daddy Nose Best is my longshot. I gave him marks in his last two races. Some observers claim that he was the beneficiary of a good setup in the Sunland Derby, but I actually gave him points for that race. The splits were fast up front, and he wasn’t really in the best spot in that race—and he had to overcome the horses that were. It’s tough to know how good a Sunland Derby field is, but that’s the race Mine that Bird came out of a few years ago, and he did earn a 100 Beyer and 101 BRIS figure in that race. Meanwhile, daily reports from Churchill say he’s working really well right now. I like him.
These next two are worth a look:
Rousing Sermon seems like he’s got a chance to get up at a big price. He got one (but only one) of my marks. He’s another late closer, who seems to be improving at the right time. He’s also a “dual qualifier” on breeding, which may finally come through for him when he goes a full mile and a quarter.
Take Charge Indy didn’t get any of my marks, but he has been in close competition with more Derby runners than anyone else coming up to this race. The problem is (except for the Fla Derby), he usually ended up behind them and didn’t seem to be overcoming a bias of any kind. He’s a frontrunner, and that won’t help him in this year’s Derby, but he will have multiple Derby winner Calvin “Bo-rail” on his back.
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