Saturday May 3, 2003

Offlee Wild

The 129th Kentucky Derby
9th @ Churchill...All carry 126



1. Supah Blitz...Homeister...Making his 16th start and 6th this year. Believe it or not, crazier things have happened. He's not the dog and pony show that his odds will reflect. Don't be surprised if he hits the bottom of the super, or tri!

2. Brancusi...Farina...Trainer has aced all the BIG ones in Europe, but not so spectacular here. Work on Saturday on Keeneland's weeds was sparkling, but an afterthought as heavy rains kept him off the dirt. He's thriving there. Too bad they don't run the Derby in Lexington. Still he's a threat. One of few who I give a real shot at the upset, better chances underneath.

3. Sir Cherokee...Thompson...Tough to sell the fact that the Arkansas Derby was a killer effort after we learned this past week that Oaklawn stretch is somewhat downhill. No such luck at Churchill and the foes get tougher. After you run much faster than you ever have before the only way to go is down.

4. Atswhatimtalkinabout...Flores...I liked this guy earlier in the year. The breeding looks sensational. But he has no foundation at 2 and this will be his 6th race this year. Add to that he looked dead tired as he walked home in the Santa Anita Derby. Doesn't instill a lot of confidence, even though I think he could be a factor. There are many in that same position though. Working well over the track. Tough sell at this point.  I'm on the fence.

5. Peace Rules...Prado...If it weren't for the nagging distance questions this guy might be more of a threat. As it is, if not for a head loss on the grass at Santa Anita in October, he'd be shooting for his 7th straight. Certainly doesn't figure to be compromised by distance if you look at his two stretch-outs this year. Could be 2nd choice, could be 5th choice. Either way he must be used.

6. Funny Cide...Santos...Can a New York-bred gelding win the Derby? It would seem unlikely, especially since a gelding hasn't won since 1929. He was all out in the Wood and obviously, Empire Maker was not. Now--there's no real shame in losing to the Derby favorite. Remains to be seen though just how formidable of a challenge he really was to the winner. He's as game as they come, but seems to find trouble. This isn't the race for that.

7. Offlee Wild...Albarado...I love this guy. He scored a not so surprising (even though he paid $56)  win in the Holy Bull earlier in the year at Gulfstream. Then had some physical problems during which he missed some training, and had to miss the Florida Derby. He comes back with a respectable 3rd in the Bluegrass and you have to think he's sitting on a real BIG effort. He broke his maiden at Churchill. I actually had a dream last week that he won the Derby. I've never had a dream about a horse winning a race prior to the race, before that one. The karma is too thick for me too ignore.

8. Buddy Gil...Stevens...Game winner at Santa Anita in his last 3. Closing times are nothing to write home about and that could have a devastating effect in this race. You've got to be able to finish smartly at 9 furlongs if you want to have any hope of winning at 10. Makes more sense under in the exotics.

9. Indian Express...Baze...This is one scary animal, and he might just throw a scare into Frankel. His greatest weapon is his mind. He seems not to believe that he can be beat. Unfortunately, it's tough to gauge just how fast he was at 2, which is the key to figuring out just how fast he can be at 3. right now he's in uncharted waters. You'd better believe Baffert will use every thing he can muster to get the most from this guy on Saturday. You can take that any way you want.

10. Lone Star Sky...Sellers...I have to admit I'm glad to see Shane back riding again. I'd be concerned about the 12 length defeat in the Illinois Derby though. I can't see him making up that kind of ground in his 5th start of the year. No graded wins but he did win the $200k Cradle at River Downs last fall. Could be a nice one, but not in this spot.

11. Domestic Dispute...Solis...Last minute entry after he was sold last week. I wasn't to keen on his chances before, and not much has changed. He really hasn't done anything of note for several months.

12. Empire Maker...Bailey...The deserving favorite. It's just a question now of what the final odds will be. He's done everything right and Bobby's been walking on eggshells for the last 2 weeks. He didn't appear to be terribly extended to pull off the Wood. That should either upgrade him or downgrade Funny Cide--or both. You have to look long and hard to find any chinks. I guess the foot bruise qualifies, but if he gets a poor start, gets blocked, or if the track comes up sloppy or he just doesn't like it. Then maybe he'll get beat. I can't think of a more deserving favorite over the last 10 years. The only thing the bruise will do is raise his odds from 7/5 to 2-1. If the real problem is only a bruise.

13. Eye Of The Tiger..Coa...Roughly run Lexington and he still got 2nd on that track. That in itself is an accomplishment as the track at Keeneland is anything but kind to closers. I don't blame Jerry for taking a shot here.  Not really a 1 1/4 pedigree though. In fact he's probably already past his distance limit.

14. Ten Cents A Shine...Borel...That's the only shine you'll be able to afford if you back this one here. Unfortunately, they haven't been offered that cheap for--well, 75 years.

15. Outta Here...Desormeaux...You know I'm tempted. This year's favorite for last..

16. Ten Most Wanted...Day...This year's Illinois Derby winner looks much better suited to capture this. As you recall, last year's winner has his name hanging around the paddock at Churchill. They do that for past winners of the Derby. There's only one thing standing in his way, and Jerry Bailey rides that one. Since the foot bruise has come to light, I expect the odds on this guy will suffer. If Empire Maker is withdrawn, TMW becomes the favorite.

17. Scrimshaw...Velasquez...Can Lukas do it again? Who's going to count him out? I'm certainly not. He's got tremendous speed at 2, and could very well step up again and surprise. Only question will be odds. Definitely a use for exotic purposes.


         That foot bruise is troubling. I find it hard to pick a heavy favorite here with ANY setback or problem. I'm not about to start now.

     By all accounts Ten Most Wanted loves the track at Churchill. He's coming out of a sterling effort in the Illinois Derby. The only thing that scares me is he could bounce. His price will be okay, but still likely second choice. Breeding is good and I do see Alydar in that line.

    I'm looking for Offlee Wild to take a step up here. His first two-turn effort offered a glimpse into his future, and it looks bright indeed. His breeding is superb for the distance, and he is fresh. An effort similar to the Holy Bull will get him money, a step forward and it could be all his.

    Empire Maker has done nothing wrong. But his tendency to bear in and his foot bruise make him less than spectacular, when coupled with his probable odds. He could and might still win. But I can't pick him on top knowing what we now know.

    Brancusi also shows Alydar through Alysheba in his pedigree. Normally, that would be enough to send me into orbit! I must be careful here, and though I respect Biancone's esteemed accomplishments, the road for this one has been unorthodox to say the least. I'd hate for him to beat me, so I'll use.

    Indian Express has that Baffert "magic" working for him.

     I'll use a couple of others on the bottom. Most notably, Atswahtimtalkinabout and Scrimshaw even though he drew poorly.

Best of luck everyone!

2003 bBra