Picking the Kentucky Derby winner is like catching mercury in a spoon. There are twenty horses galloping a mile and a quarter at 40 miles per hour around Churchill Downs.
Every other race in America has a maximum of 12 -14 starters, which makes them look like a picnic compared to the cavalry charge that the Derby has become. The race to the first bend is like roller derby with horses knocked this way and that.
However, some interesting trends appear to happen most years.
1. Post position is critical. You do not want to be position one two or three in the gate as the outside horses automatically come over seeking a better position on the bend.
2. You don't want to be drawn on the complete outside either. Big Brown disproved this theory breaking from gate 20 but he was the exception that proved the rule.It is very tough to win from 18, 19 or 20.
Now that we have eliminated six horses of so, here are some other key tips.
3. Front runners rarely win. You can pick out the front runners on Saturday, horses like Fast and Accurate and State of Honor will probably be in the first two or three racing to the bend. Because of all the pent up excitement, the 100,000 screaming spectators, the front runners tend to go much too fast, sometimes running the quarter in 45 seconds and change, They are gasping for breath by the far turn.
4. Throw out the artificial dirt horses. Any horse who has won his ky race on artificial dirt but not the real thing does not run well in the Kentucky Derby ie Fast and Accurate.
5. Foreign horses do not do well. Horse shipping in from Ireland, England or Dubai rarely run well in the Derby the track conditions are all too new to them. Thunder Snow has shipped in from Dubai for the race -- ignore him.
6. Rely on experienced jockeys. First-time jockeys very rarely win the race. The old hands are usually more reliable. John Velazquez on Always Dreaming, Mike Smith on Girvin, Jose Espinoza on Gormely have all been there and donned The Roses.
7. Go with experienced horses forget those who are maidens or never ran at 2. Sonneteer and Patch are throwouts.
8. Throw out anything over 30-1. Sure you would have missed Giacomo and Mine that Bird in the past few years but I think the long shots have used up all their luck.
9. Ignore horses with any time off through injury since January. You need a perfect injury-free run to make it to the Derby winners circle. Girvin, favorite Classic Empire have both had troubled preparations.
10. Read who Mike Welsch of the Daily Racing Form says has worked best in the week before the derby.He has a tremendous insight into how horses train coming up to the race.
First: Irish War Cry, best Beyers, favorable draw. Second: Tapwrit, one bad race in Bluegrass should be a throwout. Third: Gunnevara, late closer can come on in the past quarter mile while others begin to huff and puff.
Soon as I see the draw tomorrow I will post my selections. Check back then!