LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 05: Let's do this. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
What a week. Hollis Thompson. Osama Bin Laden. Jerrelle Benimon. Gary Williams. Gus Johnson. And now, the capper: the 2011 Kentucky Derby. The Run for the Roses. The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports. Your chance to toss on your finest seersucker, get tanked on mint juleps, hit on unsuspecting guys or gals who are looking to party and most of all, GET RICH!
As I taught you in last year's triumphant tour de force that paid for your non-documented lunches for months on end, if you're looking to win some major coin on the Derby, you don't do it by wagering your hard earned money on horses with low odds. You make money by nailing the trifecta or even better, the superfecta, loaded with value horses that have a chance to hit the board. With that in mind, below is an analysis of the 2011 Derby field. Away we go...
Casual Derby Preview after the Jump:
1. Archarcharch: 10-1
Easily the worst name in the field, this horse is a feel good story with one of those "aw, shucks" trainers that has been hardened by a life toiling in the barns and finally has a shot at the Derby. AAA looked impressive in the Arkansas Derby, gaining down the stretch and holding off Nehro to win by a neck. At 10-1 or higher I like AAA's value to possibly show. Verdict: Contender, include in exotics.
2. Brilliant Speed: 30-1
"Hey guys, I'm going to buy a thoroughbred, name him Brilliant Speed, and get a bunch of people to throw cash on him at the Kentucky Derby!" The only problem is that he doesn't have brilliant speed, and sucks ass. The Verdict: TOSS. (Note: This horse will absolutely win the Derby)
3. Twice the Appeal: 20-1
20-1 odds on a horse that Calvin Borel will be riding along the rail out of post 3 isn't bad value, the problem here is that I don't think Twice is that much of a horse. Twice hasn't run since March and hasn't demonstrated he has the speed to win a Triple Crown race. Borel's rail strategy has certainly paid off in the past with Ice Box and of course Mine that Bird, but I don't see that happening here. I think this horse would be 30-1 if Borel were riding a different animal. Prior to winning his last race, Twice lost to a horse named Beer Meister. Verdict: TOSS.
4. Stay Thirsty: 20-1
Stay thirsty, my friends! Awesome! Dos Equis should have spent all of its proceeds on undetectable steroids that would guarantee victory for Stay Thirsty, but alas they seem content on paying that old dude to appear in its ads. It was cool when he was surrounded by hot chicks, but now he's appearing in ads while cooking with his dog and like that ad campaign this horse is a bit tired. Thirsty flat-out quit in the Florida Derby, which makes perfect sense to me. Why run when you can walk and still get to eat a bunch of hay and carrots? Verdict: TOSS.
5. Decisive Moment: 30-1
I suspect Decisive will run out to the lead and then get run down, which is always fun. Doesn't appear to have the distance to go the mile and a quarter and speed figures aren't impressive. Verdict: TOSS.
6. Comma to the Top: 30-1.
Value alert! Value alert! 30-1 odds on an experienced pony that has run 90+ Beyer figures more than three times already and has 6 career wins? Yes please! I don't think Comma can win this race but it wouldn't surprise me if he finishes 3rd or 4th. It is curious that his jockey chose to ditch the mount ahead of this race, however. Verdict: Include in aggressive exotics.
7. Pants on Fire: 20-1
The Louisiana Derby winner heads to Churchill with long odds despite running an impressive race where he ran towards the lead for the majority of the race and then held off fellow Derby competitors Nehro and Mucho Macho Man for the win. The problem is that race was fairly slow, and Pants prefers to get out ahead of the pack and run from there. However, without the speed to charge to the front out of the crowded 7 post in a field of 20 and maintain a lead for a mile and a quarter, I don't have high hopes for this guy. Also, BEWARE OF FEMALE JOCKEY. I trust female jockeys as much as I like female airplane pilots. Verdict: TOSS.
8. Dialed In: 4-1
I've been high on this horse for a few months, and it stinks that potential Derby competitors like The Factor and Tobey's Corner have dropped out of the field and Uncle Mo has that gastro issue because it means even more money will be tossed on Dialed In and make him less attractive at the betting window. It worries me that Dialed In doesn't have a really high speed figure to hold his hat on, but then again, horses don't wear hats. The lack of blazing speed is a concern, but his closing style and ferocious stretch runs will likely put him in the mix. Though he hasn't raced a lot, he has run a mile and an eighth twice already so I don't think he'll have a problem with the distance. Simply put, Dialed In wins horse races, and though it might not be pretty, I expect him to be there. Think Paddy O'Prado but a winner. Verdict: Contender, include in exotics.
9. Derby Kitten: 30-1
This horse is neither fast nor has the distance. Kitten will get swarmed out of the 9 post and struggle to make anything happen. Cats are weird. Verdict: TOSS.
10. Twinspired: 30-1
I like the name of this horse more than I like his chances. Twinspired is likely to take a few dollars on Saturday as hometown bettors throw dollars on a horse named after Churchill's famous twin spires, but I just don't see how he'll be a factor in this race. Verdict: TOSS.
11. Master of Hounds: 30-1
Master is a foreign entry into the race which means HE IS A TERRORIST AND MUST BE SHOT IN THE FACE. Last run in the United Emeriates Derby, Master finished 2nd in an impressive run at a longer distance (a mile and three sixteenths) than any of these other horses have run stateside. At 30-1 that's good value for a question mark with upside. Verdict: Include in exotics.
12. Santiva: 30-1
Santiva sounds like something I would take for a rash and then sue the shit out of the drug manufacturer after it gave me heart failure. I don't like rashes, and I don't like heart failure. Verdict: TOSS.
13. Mucho Macho Man: 12-1
Oooooh yeeeaah! There's value here at 12-1. Macho ran a disappointing 3rd in the Louisiana after being the fave out of the gate, but has run some impressive Beyers in his career, posting a 99 and back-to-back 90+ figures in his last two races. If he gets a nice trip out of the lucky 13 post I think he can hit the board. I'll never forgive Macho Man for crushing the esophagus of Ricky the Dragon Steamboat and allowing that buffoon Lex Luger to kill Miss Elizabeth. Verdict: Include in exotics.
14. Shackleford: 12-1
I'm hoping this guy gets overlooked on Saturday and rises closer to 20-1, because I was impressed with the Shack Attack's run in the Florida Derby (edged by a nose by Dialed In) and aside from one terrible race in The Fountain of Youth he always seems to be in the mix. Verdict: Include in aggressive exotics.
15. Midnight Interlude: 10-1
Likely the best name of any in the field, Midnight is trained by the legendary Bob Baffert and won the Santa Anita Derby. But here's the thing - I hate horses that win the Santa Anita. Each year a horse comes out of the West Coast and lays a big fat egg at Churchill amidst a world of hype. Since 2006, Brother Derek, Tiago, Colonel John, Pioneerof the Nile, and Sidney's Candy have all won the Santa Anita only to fail to bring home the roses at Churchill. I don't find Midnight's past performances all that impressive either, running slow speed numbers in short distances and only running a mile and an eighth just once. I know what you're thinking. "Wait, Casual my main man, are you really about to toss a Baffert horse that won the Santa Anita Derby and has one of the higher speed figures of all the horses in the damn race?" Yes. Yes I am. I am going to let Midnight Interlude beat me tomorrow. Just don't see the value at 10-1 which will likely be closer to 8-1 at post time. Verdict: TOSS.
16. Animal Kingdom: 30-1
It would be really easy for me to toss this sucker and use some sort of Disney joke in the process but I just can't do it. The Animal can run, and even though he's untested on dirt, his speed figures are decent and he's won races. At 30-1 there's good value here. Verdict: Include in aggressive exotics.
17. Soldat: 12-1
This horse is all over the place. Posted a whopping 103 Beyer three races ago but then rocked a not so casual 76 speed figure in a woeful performance in the Florida Derby. Past performances indicate this guy likes to get out front early and coming from the 17 post in the Derby that shit ain't happening, and even if it does he's going to get tired fast and get RUN DOWN, which is always fun. Verdict: TOSS.
18. Uncle Mo: 9/2
Look, if I have a gastrointestinal disorder I'm calling in sick and letting the rest of the Board of Gimps ride THE GLOBAL PHENOMENON into the ground. Yes, in full health I'm rap's MVP, but expecting greatness when someone is sick is just silly. Mo is damn good horse so it's a shame he won't be at 100%, and at the time of writing this opus it's not even clear he'll give it a go. If he does and wins it'll be like when MJ beat Karl Malone and the Jazz when he had the flu, except here Karl Malone is named Shackleford and the Jazz are the Hornets. What? Verdict: A very tenuous inclusion. I hope he gives it a go because if he scratches a number of the other ponies I like are going to lose value.
19. Nehro: 6-1
Finding Nemo is one of my favorite films. Those surfer dude turtles get me every time. Nemo's last three Beyers are 79, 94, and 98 meaning he's peaking at the right time. He isn't afraid to sit back and let the leaders tire out ahead of him, which is crucial in a shitshow race like the Derby. If Nemo can get a nice break out of the 18th post and avoid the muck, I think Corey Nakatani can guide him to sweet victory. Nakatani switched from Comma at the Top for the chance to ride Nemo to glory. Very impressed with his run in the Arkansas Derby in a losing effort. Verdict: Contender. Include.
20. Watch Me Go: 50-1
This is the horse that everyone is going to be betting on trying to strike it rich on the longshot. Is it worth throwing $10 on him to win? Sure. Will he win? No chance. (Note: this horse will absolutely win the Derby) Verdict: TOSS.
Ok, so we've gone down the list and these are the 9 horses we have left to play with:
Comma to the Top: 30-1
Dialed In: 4-1
Master of Hounds: 30-1
Mucho Macho Man: 12-1
Animal Kingdom: 30-1
Uncle Mo: 9/2
9 horses is too many for my casual 6 horse $1 box trifecta ($120), so I've got to shed some dead weight. Again, the goal here is value, and you don't get value when betting the ponies with low odds. Uncle Mo, good luck in the Preakness. Next I'm going to take a look at the horses in the 12-1 range, and out of those two I'm saying peace out to Shackleford, because it's a lame name and he's been more inconsistent in the Derby preps than the other 12-1 shot Macho Man. Of the longer shots, I'm getting rid of Comma to the Top because even though he finished a game 2nd in the Santa Anita, I don't like that race and I'm not sure what a comma to the top is. Is that like an apostrophe? He's a good kid and I wish him well.
So there you go, the 6 horse tri box is Archarcharch, Dialed In, Master of Hounds, Mucho Macho Man, Animal Kingdom, and Nehro. Go up to the teller and say "$1 trifecta box with the 1, 8, 11, 13, 16, and 19." If you want to get sneaky and play longshots, by all means go for it. It's the Derby, baby, go for broke. If you play the faves, however, you might as well kill yourself.
I'm not sure where you'll be watching the race, and as usual I'll be missing it because I'll be at Jazz Fest in New Orleans, relaxing in the sun while listening to Jimmy Buffett and eating my face off. Win or lose, come Monday it'll be all right.
Enjoy the race.