Friday, February 4, 2011

5 For The 1st Saturday in May

Around this time last year I picked my 5 early favorites for the Kentucky Derby. One of my selections was eventual winner Super Saver so I felt like it was important to try and keep the streak alive. Does 1 year constitute a streak? Anyway, here are 5 to watch for the 2011 Kentucky Derby.

1.) Uncle Mo - 2 year-old champions don't always make great Kentucky Derby contenders. If he runs he's likely to be the prohibitive favorite as well and we all know how poorly favorites have fared in Derby's recent history. This horse seems a lot more like the real deal then some of the disappointing 2-year-old champs and Derby favorites we've seen fall by the wayside in previous years though. He wasn't the best 2-year-old in the land last year by virtue of the fact that he was the most precocious of his generation, he was the best because he had the most talent. To this point his running style suggests that he needs to be on or very near the lead which can make the Derby distance of 10 furlongs very hard to get but every so often you get a front runner who forgets that he's supposed to stop running. Unless he's forced into a ridiculous pace scenario he will be very tough to beat.

2.) To Honor and Serve - Last year's Nashua and Remsen winner already runs like he's an old pro. I love his pedigree - Bernardini out of a Deputy Minister mare. He likes to be near the lead too, always a possibility that he and Uncle Mo wear each other out but this one doesn't seem to need the lead like Uncle Mo. Would love to see Mott hoist his first derby trophy.

3.) Soldat - Most recently seen thumping an allowance field by more that 10 on a sloppy track at Gulfstream. He could really be one to watch if there is an off track on Derby day. He is scheduled to run next in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, could really legitimize his chances with a big performance over a fast track.

4.) Tapizar - Turned in the best run I've seen for a riderless horse in his first start. Without any guidance, obviously, he ducked down on the rail when they passed the grandstand for the first time - a difficult enough task for a first time starter that has a rider. As the field galloped down the backstretch it appeared that he had lost interest but as they straightened up for home Tapizar re-rallied and blew by everyone. He managed to keep his rider on in his last start, a win in the Sham S. at Santa Anita, and looked ultra tough in doing so.

5.) Clubhouse Ride - The problem with the 1-4 horses is that it appears as though they all want to be near the lead so the race may set up for a closer. I liked the way he ran 2nd to Tapizar in the Sham and the Derby could set up well for a horse like this.

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