Kentucky Derby Talk

This Saturday, two cultural events collide.  It is the first Saturday in May and that means it will be the day that they will run the Kentucky Derby.  It is also May 5th and that means that there will be Cinco de Mayo celebrations everywhere.  And before anyone dares to ask, that calendar confluence does NOT mean that you can make mint juleps with Dos Equis beer in place of good bourbon.  I assume that readers here are all adults and so I will not get into any moralizing about how one must consume alcohol responsibly at a Cinco de Mayo celebration.  I take it as axiomatic that adults reading these rants know about such admonishments.

However, these are sports-related rants and so I will take a moment here to pass along some advice regarding the Kentucky Derby.  I am doing this 3 days in advance of the race so that anyone interested in serious handicapping will have some time to make that happen.

Here is what we know about the Derby on Saturday.  It will be a mile-and-a-quarter race for 3-year olds and there will almost assuredly be 20 horses in the starting gates.  There is an Also Eligible named for the field just in case one of the currently entered horses succumbs to an early scratch.  Handicapping a 20-horse field is a royal pain in the posterior and so I will try here to give racegoers and race bettors a head start.

I have divided the 20-horse field into 3 categories.  Here in Category 1 are the horses that I do not think have a chance to win the race on Saturday.  I say this knowing that the Derby has produced more than its share of longshot winners; these horses just do not seem to measure up to several other entries and so I would throw them out and not waste any more time looking for arcane clues in their past performances.  Here they are in alphabetical order:

  • Blended Citizen  Morning Line = 50-1 (He is the “Also Eligible” horse)
  • Enticed  Morning Line = 30-1
  • Firenze Fire  Morning Line = 50-1
  • Flameaway  Morning Line = 30-1
  • Hofburg  Morning Line = 20-1
  • Instilled Regard  Morning Line = 50-1
  • Lone Sailor  Morning Line = 50-1
  • My Boy Jack  Morning Line = 30-1
  • Noble indy  Morning Line = 30-1
  • Promises Fulfilled  Morning Line = 30-1

That cuts the field in half meaning you need to focus your handicapping energy and reasoning on only half of the field.  But I’ll make it even simpler.  Here are 4 horses in Category 2 who are better than the 10 listed above but who do not give me much confidence that they can win the race.  Maybe they can finish in the money; maybe they can fill out a Superfecta; maybe they will run “up the track”.  In any event, here are my Category 2 horses – – ones that I cannot throw out but ones that I do not particularly like:

  • Bravazo  Morning Line = 50-1
  • Combatant  Morning Line = 50-1
  • Free Drop Billy  Morning Line = 30-1
  • Mendelssohn  Morning Line = 5-1

To my mind, if you have subtracted these horses from consideration in the winners’ circle, that should leave you with 7 contenders.  That is a manageable number of horses to deal with in terms of serious handicapping.  Here are my Category 3 horses – the serious contenders to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby:

  1. Audible  Morning Line = 8-1
  2. Bolt d’Oro  Morning Line = 8-1
  3. Good Magic  Morning Line = 12-1
  4. Justify  Morning Line = 3-1  (Likely the race favorite at about 8-5)
  5. Magnum Moon  Morning Line = 6-1
  6. Solomini  Morning Line = 30-1
  7. Vin Rosso  Morning Line = 12-1

Just for the halibut, here is my superfecta box for the race.  At the $1 level, it risks $24.  The horses in the box are Free Drop Billy, Justify, Magnum Moon and Solomini.  Whatever…

The 2019 MLB schedule is still very much up in the air – – except for one fact that has been nailed down.  The Oakland A’s will open “at home” against the Seattle Mariners but the game will be played in Tokyo.  That will give the A’s the attendance equivalent of two “home openers” – – the one in Tokyo and then the one in Oakland.  Given the A’s attendance woes over the past several years, having two “Home openers” cannot possibly hurt.

Finally, here are two comments from Brad Dickson – formerly with the Omaha World-Herald – on the importance of spring football in Nebraska:

“In the rest of the world the big story is Kim Jong Un saying he’s gonna disable his nuclear weapons. In Nebraska, however, the big story is a third team linebacker being moved to second team for today’s spring game.”

And …

“In Lincoln Saturday Earth Day will be observed by releasing 80,000 environmentally damaging red balloons into the air after someone scores a touchdown at a football game that doesn’t count.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



2 thoughts on “Kentucky Derby Talk”

  1. Re: Dickson. For the past three years, I have lived three hours east of Lincoln, in Des Moines, IA. The sports segment of last night’s local newscast led with a piece about *Nebraska’s* head coach. Nebraska’s. Head. Coach. I’m not saying college football is of outsize importance out here, but…wait. Yes, I am. That is exactly what I’m saying.

    1. Peter:

      When Darryl Royal was the coach at Texas he once said that football was the most important sport in Texas followed by Spring Football and High School Football. He was probably right…

      Fans in Nebraska seem equally obsessed.

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