This Saturday will be the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby. The post time is 6:24 p.m. ET, and this year has the makings of something special. It could be one of the best matched races in years, and this will have every racing fan around the globe watching intently. So, sit back and grab your mint julep, and get ready for the greatest two minutes in sports.
#4 – Union Rags (9-2) = Julien Leparoux has the mount for trainer Michael Matz. Mr. Matz is no stranger to Churchill Downs, as he won the Derby with Barbaro. He has been training lights out, and looks like a dream. This will be his 3rd start off the layoff, and that has been the plan of the Matz camp for quite sometime. His bad trip in the Florida Derby can be tossed out. Leparoux was in mega-trouble all the way around the track that day, and he immediately conveyed his thoughts of giving a better ride next out. I am looking for the real Union Rags to show up, and I have been waiting since last November in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
#13 – Went The Day Well (20-1) = John Velasquez is the pilot for Graham Motion. If this sounds like a familiar team, it is because they won last year with Animal Kingdom. This colt by Tiznow is a big maturing kid. He is still learning, and after the Vinery Spiral at Turfway Park. I think he has figured out quite a bit from a lightly raced career. Distance should be no problem, as he appears to be a mid-pack runner who will make his presence felt at the top of the lane. Velasquez is a rider who makes very few mistakes, and Motion is a throw-back to the past with patience and preparation.
#15 – Gemologist (6-1) = Javier Castellano gets the nod for trainer Todd Pletcher. In the last two months they are winning at a white-hot 41%. Castellano is a rising star, and is really excited about riding this son of Tiznow. They are 2/2 with wins at Churchill. This horse-for-the-course is making his 3rd start off a layoff, and has been working at Palm Meadows in Florida. His post is no problem, and should be right behind the speed when the real running begins. Oh, did I mention that he is undefeated and has the look of a winner?
This was the toughest Derby in many years to handicap. There are so many to like, and only one can win. I am looking for a race that will be quick early, and turn into a chess match down the backstretch. Early on I would look for the speedy Trinniberg, Bodemeister, and ghost-white colt Hansen to be dictating the pace. Calvin Borel aboard Take Charge Indy draws the three post, and will definitely be a factor down the backstretch against the rail. When the pace starts to back up, you will see the real running begin. In many of the past runnings, the winner is usually on top at the 1/8th pole. I would look for Union Rags to move after Gemologist, and hold off the late charge of Went The Day Well. Be sure to check the weather report on the WinningPonies site, and your E-Z Win forms will be ready and waiting to guide you through this great day of racing. As always, may your winners be many and your photos be few!