I love reading about the top ten selections on the Derby list of handicappers. They give whys and whens, and if you look closely, it takes on a David Letterman feel. I respect the effort, but I think ranking runners is like hitting the lottery. The great D. Wayne Lukas said it best: “people have opinions, and horses have answers.”
I won’t begin to try and do ten of anything. I think it gets a little tough, and then the guesswork sets in. But, I will give you a few runners that may warrant a look.
1. Eskendereya – This is clearly the top three-year-old in the country. You knew it when you heard Dick Dutrow say that he would have run D’ Funnybone in the Florida Derby if he knew he wasn’t entered. Well, that speaks volumes. When folks already duck you, and you impact their decision, that means you are on the radar screen in a big way. Not having him in the Florida Derby was a major blow, but Nick Zito and Ice Box are two happy campers, with a big run down the lane.
2. Odysseus - The Tampa Bay Derby was his coming out party. When the announcer said he would have to win another day at the quarter pole, he dug in and showed he had a few more gears. How he ran was a show of great improvement. I don’t care where trainers take their runners to get ready, but Tampa has been showing up more and more each year. Maybe the track can be tiring, and it may mimic Churchill Downs in the spring. Either way, he was nasty down the lane and showed guts when it counted.
3. Lookin’ At Lucky – I said before that when a rider wants to know what it looks like to be beaten and dig in, well, Gomez put on a clinic. He was beaten in the Rebel, and almost came out of his saddle at the half. He checked off heels, and Gomez must have glue to his rump…. Baffert has a bear here. He knows it, and those who watched the race also know the truth. He has guts, talent, and the rider….Bullet Bob is sitting good and he knows it. Just keep him healthy, and he will be tough to deal with….
So, it is not ten, but they are tough. I have a couple of other names that deserve the “Long-Shot Listings,” and they are: Caracortado, Aikenite, and Dublin…. Just put them in the many lists you will be seeing. I think having ten is a little much. I like these three, and I have a couple of long-shots to hook up in exactas.
Good luck, and the Derby is getting closer with each moment……