Derby Picks

Since we last posted on Wednesday one of the entered horses has been scratched. Due to a fever #6 KING GUILLERMO will not run in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby.

So just seventeen horses will take to the gate for the 146th edition of The Run For The Roses.

The Derby is race #14, the final contest of the day at Churchill Downs, with a scheduled Post Time of 7:05.

On Wednesday we profiled the first half of the field, here then is a look at the remaining nine horses:

10. THOUSAND WORDS [ML 15-1] Trainer: Bob Baffert. Jockey: Florent Geroux. Everything considered, this colt has been disappointing. He Won a weak Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3), then went on to finish 4th by 11 1/4 lengths in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) behind three rivals running here. Next, he ran 11th in the Oaklawn Stakes and then 2nd in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3). He is working well and seemingly gives the impression of a better horse than his form in the spring. Tough call here.

11. NECKER ISLAND
[ML 50-1] Trainer: Chris Hartman. Jockey: Miguel Mena. He has seven straight losses. Why is he here? In his last two starts, he ran 3rd in the Indiana Derby (G3) with no excuse after showing tactical speed, and then 3rd by 8 1/2 lengths in the Ellis Park Derby. Derby fever is real. His connections could have used a little more cowbell.

12. SOLE VOLANTE [ML 30-1] Trainer: Patrick Biancone. Jockey: Luca Panici. He Won the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) earlier in the year before a solid 2nd place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). It doesn’t appear he is any better now compared to those spring races. Three months later, he barely Won a Gulfstream Optional Claimer by 3/4 of a length. Ten days later he ran a distant 6th in the Belmont Stakes, 15 3/4 lengths behind the Winner TIZ THE LAW.

13.
ATTACHMENT RATE [ML 50-1] Trainer: Dale Romans. Jockey: Joe Talamo. Two starts ago he improved his running mechanics by switching leads in the stretch run of the Blue Grass Stakes. One start later, he finished a strong 2nd in the Ellis Park Derby while switching leads correctly a second time, earning a career-high 120 Speed Figure in the process. Seems capable of learning new tricks. If he works out a clean trip he could hit the board.

14. WINNING IMPRESSION [ML 50-1] Trainer: Dallas Stewart. Jockey: Joe Rocco Jr. As good as this trainer is at hitting the board in Triple Crown races with huge long shots, this one’s recent form is not justifiable. His last out in the Ellis Park Derby, was a 7th place finish by 11 1/4 lengths. Two starts back he was a distant 7th in the Indiana Derby. Move this late closer up in the depth chart only if it rains.

15. NY TRAFFIC
[ML 20-1] Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Paco Lopez. He lost to AUTHENTIC by a nose in the Haskell Stakes (G1), but came out looking like a horse who will enjoy the 1 1/4-mile distance. Prior to the Haskell he ran 2nd in both the Matt Winn and Louisiana Derby. But he faces more quality horses than AUTHENTIC this time out. With some luck, perhaps he can sneak out a Victory by a small margin. The more likely scenario is that he battles until the end, but comes up short.

16. HONOR A.P. [ML 5-1] Trainer: John Shirreffs. Jockey: Mike Smith. He came up short in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) to AUTHENTIC earlier in the year. Three months later in his next start, he Won the Santa Anita Derby (G1) by 2 3/4 lengths over AUTHENTIC. He then lost the Shared Belief Stakes by 3/4 of a length, losing some of his shine. Of course he already had enough points to qualify for the Derby- so maybe not his best effort. He is capable of making a sustained run to Win a quality race, as evidenced by his Santa Anita Derby Victory.

17. TIZ THE LAW [ML 3-5] Trainer: Barclay Tagg. Jockey: Manuel Franco. Given his last three races, it is hard to choose against the betting public favorite. He Won the Florida Derby (G1) in March by 4 1/4 lengths. After 8 weeks off he then took the modified Belmont Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths. He Won those races with mild speed figures, earning a 121 and 120 respectively. But last month in the Travers Stakes he upped his game. He Won by 5.5 lengths, with a 126 speed figure. It was pretty much a hand-ride the final two furlongs. If he has a weakness it is racing in the pocket and taking dirt. Otherwise, he figures to make the same Winning move approaching the far turn. His odds will be low, but those odds are not necessarily unfair, given his record and accomplishments.

18. AUTHENTIC
[ML 8-1] Trainer: Bob Baffert. Jockey: John Velazquez. There is no doubt, this horse needs the lead. In his three Wins this year in the Sham Stakes (G3), San Felipe Stakes (G2) and Haskell Stakes (G1) he ran on an uncontested lead through moderate fractions. When he did not break well in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), HONOR A. P. outran him in the stretch. Expect Johnny V. to gun him out hard from this post, as Baffert does not like to rate a good speed horse. Even if he secures an uncontested lead, the question of whether he can handle 1 1/4 miles remains. He hung a bit in the Haskell but held on against a resurgent NY TRAFFIC.

Conclusion:

The most probable Winners are TIZ THE LAW, HONOR A. P. and NY TRAFFIC. Two big players- ART COLLECTOR, and KING GUILLERMO won’t be running, and that helps all three of these horses, as the pace is softer now.

It’s understandable if bettors just want to single TIZ THE LAW. However, it is not cut and dried, as he draws next to AUTHENTIC and could get cut off at the start.

That might not be a huge deal. Even if TIZ THE LAW waits a second or two for AUTHENTIC to clear from Post 18, he gets to enjoy his preferred clear and outside trip afterwards.

The underneath options are where the money is made in the exotic wagers (Trifectas, Superfectas).

So beneath our probable Winners we will use MAX PLAYER, MAJOR FED, MR. BIG NEWS, THOUSAND WORDS, ATTACHMENT RATE, and AUTHENTIC.

We will construct our tickets with the hope that two of our three probable Winners will run 1st and 2nd. The Value will come on the back end.

So numerically the wager will read: 15-16-17 with 15-16-17 with 2-5-9-10-13-18. That is for a Trifecta play. For a Superfecta, just use that last line of runners for the fourth leg of the bet.

Happy Derby Day, and best of luck no matter how you play it.

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