Kentucky Derby, 1-1/4 miles, 3-year-olds
Possible overlays Morning line
#1 West Side Bernie 30/1
#4 Advice 30/1
#5 Hold Me Back 15/1
#6 Friesan Fire 5/1
#12 General Quarters 20/1
#13 I Want Revenge SCR
#15 Dunkirk 4/1
#16 Pioneerof the Nile 4/1
What this year’s Kentucky Derby is missing is a few speed balls that will gun out of the gate and ensure a hot pace. Many of the prep races this year were run on synthetic tracks where horses run slower early and fast late, so those type of horses got the earnings necessary to enter the Derby.
I Want Revenge would have been helped by a slow pace, but he was scratched this morning due to an ankle injury. Quality Road, who won’t run because of a quarter crack, would have been an easy selection in this race and I believe that he’ll either win the Preakness Stakes or the Belmont. Running second to Quality Road in the Florida Derby, #15 Dunkirk made an eye-popping surge on the turn reminiscent of Monarchos move in the 2001 Florida Derby.
In my computer pace numbers, Dunkirk’s Florida Derby looks a lot like the best prep race run by Real Quiet before that colt won the roses in 1997. Another who looks good in the pace ratings is #6 Friesan Fire based on the race he ran in the March 14 Louisiana Derby.
Bob Baffert, who won this race with Silver Charm, Real Quiet and War Emblem, sends out Pioneerof the Nile with jockey Garrett Gomez aboard. Pioneerof the Nile has won four straight graded stakes on the West Coast, but bettors knock him because he’s never run on dirt and never cracked a 100 Beyer Speed Figure. But Santa Anita has an inner dirt training track and I’m sure Baffert knows that his colt will run well on dirt.
Pioneerof the Nile’s sire Empire Maker won the Belmont Stakes and probably was best in the 2003 Derby, but got a very wide trip the year Funny Cide won. Pioneer’s dam, Star of Goshen, was trained by Mike Puype who said she was the best horse he ever had — even better than Old Trieste.
The previous three horses — Friesan Fire, Dunkirk and Pioneerof the Nile — all figure to be bet below 6/1, but the following four longshots have a chance with a few breaks — and they could be any price: #1 West Side Bernie, #4 Advice, #5 Hold Me Back and #12 General Quarters.
These longshots all seem to be getting better at the right time and any one of them could improve or just may take to the wet track, which will probably be packed down so it drains better. At an average price of 20-to-1, betting a small amount on all four of these horses is just like wagering on one 4-to-1 shot.
Betting this race, I will put $250 on any of these horses at 4/1 or more #6 Friesan Fire, #15 Dunkirk and #16 Pioneerof the Nile. Also, at 20/1 or better I will put $40 on any of these #1 West Side Bernie, #4 Advice, #5 Hold Me Back and #12 General Quarters.