Top Ten Derby Contenders, Apr 2011

by Greg Melikov

posted on April 20, 2011 in Free Picks and Tips, Handicapping, Kentucky Derby | 2 Comments >>

Top 10 ListUpsets galore in the major preps have played havoc with my Top 10 Kentucky Derby contenders. You can count the number of favorites that scored in key preps on one hand. How the 3-year-olds work at Churchill Downs before the first Saturday in May will determine my final standings from the bottom to the top:

The Factor: His displaced palate in the Arkansas Derby doesn’t worry me as much as his pedigree. Dad War Front was a sprinter and The Factor couldn’t even get the lead from the break last time out. However, he’s the only sophomore to take two major preps as the favorite. And he went wire to wire, not exactly the best running style for Louisville.

Soldat: Another son of War Front came up flat in the Florida Derby, but that doesn’t mean he won’t stand a chance at Churchill Downs. If it comes up sloppy, his stock climbs. He does have two victories at 1 1/8 miles, including the Fountain of Youth and an allowance contest on an off track.

Nehro: The runner-up in two major preps only broke his maiden in February. He is the son of Mineshaft, but I suggest getting a coin out to flip.

Pants on Fire: Winner of the Louisiana Derby likes to sit just off the pace. But the son of Jump Start will be in a crowd in a field with speed aplenty. A clean trip often decides races with large fields, and Lady Luck has a say, too. Love the name.

Midnight Interlude: Another maiden only winner, but it was the Santa Anita Derby despite a troubled stretch run during which he was steadied off the heels of the pacesetter. But the last SA Derby champ to score in the first Triple Crown event was Sunday Silence in 1989.

Uncle Mo: The son of Indian Charlie, third in the ’98 Kentucky Derby, had the lead in mid-stretch of the Wood Memorial, but faltered and finished third, possibly because of the diagnosed gastrointestinal infection. Another horse finished third at Aqueduct 38 years ago and rebounded in the Kentucky Derby en route to becoming the 10th Triple Crown champ – Secretariat. When he came up four lengths short at Aqueduct some handicappers questioned whether he had the stamina to go long. Like Uncle Mo, Secretariat’s top route victory had been 1 1/16 miles until the Kentucky Derby. Will history repeat?

Toby’s Corner: Will this be another case of like father, life son? His dad Bellamy Road romped in the ’05 Wood by more than 17 lengths and then ran seventh at Louisville. The son won his second stakes at Aqueduct by a neck and has four scores in routes. You make the call.

Mucho Macho Man: The if-you-don’t-succeed-at-first-horse tried again tossed a shoe leaving the gate in the Louisiana Derby, but managed a fourth. After a troubled fourth in the Holy Bull, the son of Macho Uno captured the Risen Star. Could be worth a wager at attractive odds.

Archarcharch: This son of Arch returned double-digit payoffs in two preps and continues to impress. Tactical speed puts him in the hunt. He ran the last three furlongs of the Arkansas Derby in 37 2/5, making up more than two lengths in deep stretch.

Dialed In: This son of Mineshaft, by process of elimination, will be the lukewarm choice in the Kentucky Derby. Horses coming out of Gulfstream Park’s showcase stakes race do well at Churchill Downs. He rates a good chance of becoming the third winner in the past six years of repeating on the first Saturday in May.