Aaaaaaand we’re back! Here we are, folks, standing on the precipice of the greatest single day of sports I have ever seen.
A full day of MLB, NHL Playoffs, NBA Playoffs (Clips-Spurs game 7!), and the tail end of the NFL draft during the day. At night, all the hype and preparation leading to the biggest thoroughbred race of the year and the biggest boxing match of this generation comes to fruition within the course of just a few hours. Here on the east coast, the day starts with Rangers/Caps Game 2 at 12:30 p.m. and ends nearly 12 hours later when the fight is at its conclusion. Now, I’m not in the business of telling you how to conduct your weekend affairs, so the best advice I can give you is to just stay hydrated and hope for the best.
On the contrary, I have some very strong opinions as to the outcome of the Mayweather - Pacquiao fight, but I've already bored a good number of you and have no intention of further irritating those precious few who are still interested in hearing my thoughts on twenty horses chasing each other around an oval. For those of you with an affinity for the Sweet Science, I'm happy to discuss as a sidebar. For all the rest, on with the handicapping...
First the second consecutive year, your likely Derby favorite will ship into Lexington out of SoCal, as AMERICAN PHAROAH leads this year's crop of 3-year old thoroughbreds. However, unlike California Chrome last year (racing in the DAP silks), AMERICAN PHAROAH comes without the made-for-Hollywood background, while possessing the same world-class talent and form. In fact, this year's field is curiously absent of the dramatic back stories and public interest angles that typically fill this week's airtime. That is not to say this is not a talented group. In fact, with all the early and tactical speed in the race, I believe that the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby will be the most entertaining incarnation of this race in some time so I'm hopeful that most of you will be semi-coherent come post time (coin toss for me).
As an avid fan of this handicapping guide, you surely know by now that your job here is to filter out the static that makes for an entertaining Derby Day broadcast, but has little to do with the actual race. The key, as always, is in finding value in a crowded and talented field. This year, I have resolved to devalue the historical angles and focus more on the fundamentals of form and race dynamic. I'm hoping that the result is a cleaner breakdown with less side effects and increased freshness. (huh?)
Of course, if your intent is to play birthdays/anniversaries and have a few mint juleps while enjoying the race, that's perfectly fine by me. But on the off chance you are still reading...
Advice from our resident Horseman:
1) DORTMUD 8
2) FIRING LINE 10
3) AMERICAN PHAROAH 18
4) MATERIALITY 3
*WILL BE BOXING IN AN EXACTA/TRIFECTA/SUPERFECTA
LONG SHOT – FROSTED 15
(MINOR THROAT SURGERY IN FEB. LED TO HUGE BEYER JUMP IN TAKING WOOD MEM. ENTERS RACE IN TOP FORM)
KEY FACTS & FIGURES
• The Kentucky Derby winner is draped in a blanket of red roses, a tradition that dates back to 1896. This is why the race is commonly referred to as the "Run for the Roses"
• The official drink of the Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep, a positively delicious concoction of Bourbon, simple syrup and fresh mint served over crushed ice.
• No horse in the #1 post (OCHO OCHO OCHO this year) has won the Derby since Ferdinand in 1986. No horse form the #1 post has finished in the money since 1988. (FORTY NINER)
• The horses with the top Beyer Speed Figures on fast dirt tracks are MATERIALITY (110), DORTMUND (106), UPSTART (108), AMERICAN PHARAOH (105), and FIRING LINE (104)
• Florida Derby winner MATERIALITY (12-1) will try to break the curse of APOLLO this year, and become the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby despite having never raced at age 2. Of the fifty-eight previous horses that have tried to buck that trend, three have finished in second place (BODEMEISTER, STRODES CREEK, COALTOWN)
• Only one New York-bred horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby (FUNNY CIDE,2003). This year TENCENDUR (30-1), INTERNATIONAL STAR (20-1), and UPSTART (15-1) will try to become the second
• Since 1930, horses running from the #10 post (FIRING LINE, 12-1) have had the greatest success (11.5% winners). Horses running from the #17 post (MR. Z, 50-1) have never won over that span
• DORTMUND (3-1), KEEN ICE (50-1), WAR STORY (50-1), MR. Z. (50-1), and FAR RIGHT (30-1) have all won races at Churchill Downs