The 130th Kentucky Derby
10th at Churchill--All carry 126
1. Limehouse...Santos 30-1...Solid foundation at 2, though not spectacular. His limit would be just about enough to win this. Would have to improve off of Tampa and Keeneland efforts. Probably best suited for shorter--for now. Not out of the question where exotics are concerned. Usually breaks well, which will be important from the 1 hole. Probably will use too much energy early to be a factor late.
2. Song Of The Sword...Arroyo Jr. 30-1...No races at 2, which is a problem. Decent enough effort in the Illinois Derby and the Lexington, but that won't cut the mustard here. Paragallo gives bad karma anyway.
3. Lion Heart...Smith 10-1...Perfect post position for a horse that will want the lead. Probability of an off track enhances his chances of stealing it. He is quality speed. This ain't no Old Trieste. 10 furlongs is a question, but there are precious few who can catch him loose on the lead. Ran fast as a 2 year-old, and has run fast this year. Catch him if you can!
4. Action This Day...Flores 30-1...As usual, the Juvy champ has not lived up to early expectations. What is it about that race anyway? You won't find a more capable handler than Mandella. Rounded back nicely to his Juvy number in the Bluegrass, but the rest have already gone by and that only got him 13 lengths behind Cliffy. BIG improvement needed here, and I don't know if ANY horse could improve that much in 3 weeks.
5. Wimbledon...Bailey 15-1...Have to believe the Louisiana Derby knocked him out for awhile. Congrats to connections who outbid all for Jerry's services. Unfortunately, Jerry isn't strong enough to carry him that last 1/8 mile. And that's what it will take for him to get a piece.
6. Friends Lake...Migliore 15-1...Here we go again! I have a tendency for ignoring the Florida Derby winner every year, and that has come back to bite me a few times over the last 10 runnings. This time, I have extra incentive as he skipped the April preps. Probably knocked out by that quicksand at Gulfstream. But the other contestants have come back to run spectacularly in their April preps as evidenced by wins for Clffy and Tapit in their next start. Could they now be due for a bounce and this guy take his turn? Can a New York bred win twice in a row? Don't be surprised if he's wearing the Kroger Roses when all is said and done.
7. Minister Eric...Day 30-1...I loved this guy in the Breeders' Cup. If I had been smart enough, I would have boxed him with Mandella's other and had a nice exacta score. Good solid 2 year-old season. Has progressed nicely this year, but avoiding major competition. Now is the time for a real test.
8. Master David...Solis 12-1...Really jumped up when Frankel switched him to dirt in his final 2 year-old race, but has yet to equal that effort at 3. Not a good sign. Might be a player down the road, but a little soon for this crowd.
9. St. Averil...T. Baze 30-1...Really showed a lot of promise before Santa Anita Derby where he disappointed as the 2-1 fav. That race was too bad to be ignored however and it appears that the San Felipe and Santa Catalina could really set him back for awhile.
10. Imperialism...Desormeaux 15-1...11 races at 2 tends to put a pretty good base on a colt. Was bothered in the Santa Anita Derby or else he might have challenged the winner. He may not care for 10 panels, but he should make his presence felt with his experience and tactical speed. A true exotics candidiate.
11. The Cliff's Edge...Sellers 4-1...Loved him in the Florida Derby, nailed him in the exacta in the Bluegrass. But was that race too much for him 3 weeks out? It's the strongest prep of the year and if he bounces, while toting that come from behind style, it could leave him completely out. However, he has strong efforts over this surface including a nice work on the 19th. A pair-up wins, a bounce loses. Bottom-line.
12. Borrego...Espinoza 20-1...Liked the way he came at Smarty at the end of the Arky Derby. Good foundation, but not overly fast at 2. Has run two beauties in a row and may be ready to move forward here. A move forward puts him in exotics. Winning not out of the question. Connections are experienced, and dam-sire won this in 1991. Likely to be a huge price and coming at the end. I like it! Can he get to Lion Heart?
13. Birdstone...Prado 50-1...Hard to believe the ML of 50-1 when just 2 months ago he was considered the top choice, or at least one of the top 2. Have to forgive the effort on the quirky Turfway surface in the Lane's End. And though he may not win here, he might have a say in the exotics. If he runs well, and Nick so decides, look out for him in Baltimore!
14. Read The Footnotes...Albarado 12-1...Ran fastest of all as a 2 year-old--maybe too fast. Easy to understand his disdain for the Florida Derby surface after he put in that monster effort in the Fountain 4 weeks earlier. Now he's skipped the April preps as a result and should be well-rested. Don't know if a Smoke Glacken can win this, but exotics certainly possible.
15. Smarty Jones...Elliott 9-2...Hard to knock. Hasn't done anything wrong and a lot of people will be happy if he can score here. Showed signs of backing up in last, and if the last few efforts have taken their toll, the place where it will show is in a 20 horse field going further than he should in front of 140,000. Not where you want a potential favorite to try and pull the ultimate.
16. Castledale...Valdivia 15-1...Not thrilled about the Santa Anita Derby, though I'm sure connections are. Difficult to explain his performance as there was nothing to suggest what was coming. Looks like a bounce candidate from here. I'll toss him.
17. Pollard's Vision...Velasquez 20-1...Good foundation at 2, though not overly fast. Best effort came in the slop at Saratoga. With track conditions expected to be off he might be worth a look in exotics. Distance may be a question so a win would be difficult to envision.
18. Tapit...Dominguez 8-1...Looks like he may be the best of this group once he figures out what the game is all about. Goofed around in the Wood and still made it look rather easy. If his head is on straight, he'll be mighty tough here. Since he comes from out of it I'm not too worried about the post position. Shallow foundation at 2 but he won both, including the Laurel Futurity off of his maiden win. Distance won't be a problem. Mud won't be a problem. Trainer will bring him in prepared. 8-1 would be a gift of rare proportions.
19. Pro Prado...McKee 30-1...Not especially fast at 2, but has now run three tough races in a row. Regression city, especially in a field like this. He won't mind the mud, but it's likely he's going to regress out of the money.
20. Quinton's Gold Rush...Nakatani 20-1...One race at 2, and he just ran a career best 2 weeks ago. Not enough bottom to support that so expect a bounce here. Awful post won't help, and he loses Bailey. Nope.
Tapit is going to prove himself a man among boys here. He looked like he could have gone around again in the Wood. You know Dickinson will have him ready.
The Cliffs Edge looked like a million when he cruised past Lion Heart in the BlueGrass. The only question: How much did that race take out of him? He could regress a bit and still be right there.
Lion Heart will take the field as far as he can, and moves up on a sloppy surface. Could hold on for the win, but I'm thinking he'll be passed buy one or both of the above.
Friends Lake hasn't run since the Florida Derby, but he's been training on that deep Payson surface. The same surface that set him up for the win in the Florida Derby that has turned out to be a key race. Do Tapit and Cliffy bounce while this guy takes his turn? Could be.
Borrego looks ready for a top effort which should get him a piece.
Imperialism looks best of the west-coasters and could end up in exotics.
2. The Cliffs Edge
3. Lion Heart
4. Friends Lake
Best of luck everyone!