Kentucky Derby Day!

The Derby is upon is, and I’ve got picks and analysis!

Over at Picks and Ponderings, I join Paul Mazur and Chris Hernandez to discuss every horse in the field: our picks, our tosses, and everyone in between.

For more detailed analysis with an eye to pace, read my piece at ShapperDaCapper.

My picks have been published in a few different places.  My top three in each race are published at Picks and Ponderings, along with Paul’s.  My top picks in all of tomorrow’s stakes races will be at Hello Race Fans! on Saturday morning, along with those of a cast of other handicappers.  Also, over at Danonymous Racing, my Kentucky Derby top three are online, along with those of many others.

(Speaking of Danonymous Racing, remember — there’s also still time to contribute and play the ‘Cappers for Causes contest!)

Happy Derby Day!

Pace and the 2016 Kentucky Derby

Though the Kentucky Derby won’t be drawn until Wednesday, it’s not too early to start looking at the likely pace scenario.

With twenty horses in the field, all three-year-olds young enough to still develop, it will not be cut-and-dried.  But, we have enough information to identify which horses will likely play certain roles, and which ones have suggested enough versatility to be wild cards.

Head over to ShapperDaCapper, and read my analysis of interesting pace horses in this year’s Kentucky Derby!

an early showdown!

Last year, nestled between the Golden Rod Stakes (GII) and the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (GII), Churchill Downs carded an allowance-optional.  It was an N1X for two-year-olds, going a one-turn mile on the dirt.

Dortmund came.  Dortmund saw.  Dortmund conquered.  Dortmund proved a force on the Derby trail.

This year, Churchill carded the same sort of race again: a top-shelf N1X allowance-optional, a mile over the dirt, between the Golden Rod and the Kentucky Jockey Club.

Though only seven horses saw the starter in that race on November 28, a pair from that group were on my radar before the race.

Both remain there going forward.

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our chapter

eleven names have always hearkened back
to what the books of history have said
mute tones of sepia and white and black
accented with blue checks or devil’s red
illuminated manuscripts of old
bring illustrated tales of hero steeds
though yellowed leaves fall short of making bold
the full extent of witnessing those deeds
our generation clung to history
the only path to that elusive prize
resigned to think that we would never see
the pinnacle of sport through our own eyes
three days, five weeks have coloured the next page
a Pharoah for our place and for our age

Kentucky Derby Day!

Two weeks ago, I went to the Kentucky Derby with Candice.

Despite my pleas to detour for just a little while at Stonestreet, we ended up at Churchill Downs bright and early.
Despite my pleas to detour for just a little while at Stonestreet, we ended up at Churchill Downs bright and early.

It was my first trip to the Derby (though not my first to Churchill Downs), and my first to any Triple Crown race.  It was a bit different than I expected, mainly because I am so used to being a railbird, and yet general admission tickets did not cover access to the apron.  We could get to the paddock or the infield.  From the paddock, we could see the horses before the races, but would have to watch the races on the screen.  From the infield, we would be in the midst of a huge party…but only be able to see the horses when they ran by our section of rail, assuming we were lucky enough to get a rail spot.

We spent the day in the paddock.

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Kentucky Derby Day: all the information!

After months of preps and excitement, the Kentucky Derby is finally here!

Good luck on Derby day!  If you have any questions about my picks or analysis, tweet me at @rogueclown.  I will be at Churchill today, but on Twitter as usual!

Picks and Ponderings: Kentucky Derby Day Stakes

Other than the Kentucky Derby, Saturday’s card at Churchill Downs includes two more Grade I events: the Humana Distaff and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic.  As is our modus operandi at Picks and Ponderings, Paul Mazur and I split up the races: he took on the Woodford Reserve, and I looked at the Humana Distaff.

The Humana Distaff originally drew a field of eight, though it looks to be down to seven with the defection of Sweet Whiskey to Friday’s La Troienne instead.  Sweet Whiskey looked to be lone speed, and now the sprint has become a paceless affair.  Judy the Beauty looks that much tougher, but there are a few very nice long shots to use underneath.

Head on over to Picks and Ponderings, and get ready for Saturday’s Grade I action at Churchill!

in-depth Kentucky Derby analysis

Derby fever has set in…and has even caused Chicago Railbird to fly (at least figuratively) south to Kentucky for the weekend!

In the first of my two columns at ShapperDaCapper this week, I take a deep dive into the Kentucky Derby.  I split the horses into tiers, explain why I like the horses I like, and explain why I am not enamoured with a few horse likely to go off at shorter prices.

Head on over to ShapperDaCapper, and read my in-depth analysis of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby!

Picks and Ponderings: 2015 Kentucky Derby Preview

Historically, Picks and Ponderings has done a point-counterpoint for the Kentucky Derby, with Paul Mazur and Chris Hernandez duking it out over the Derby field.  However, since I joined Picks and Ponderings in the time since the last Derby, that point-counterpoint has become a roundtable.

A few horses we agree on.  Others, less so.  However, a field as contentious as the Derby provides fertile ground for a friendly little argument.

In our Derby preview, the three of us have our say on every horse in the field as well as provide our selections for who looks best set to take home the roses on Saturday afternoon.  Head on over there, see who we like, and leave us a comment if you have anything to say!

Also, if the fillies are more your thing, or you are still handicapping Friday?  We have also taken a dive into both the Kentucky Oaks and the La Troienne, the pair of Grade I races set for Churchill Downs on Friday.  Make sure to read our previews, and let us know what you think!

The Final Wager: Parimutuel Wagering

Part of the reason I got so deeply into horse racing is the trivia aspect.  Being able to remember little details about horses, their pedigrees, and their races makes the sport fun.

In light of that, I am excited to announce that I collaborated with Keith Williams of The Final Wager on the latest Fact Primer: a look at parimutuel wagering!

Typically I write for people who know horse racing well, so this was a little different.  The Final Wager focuses on Jeopardy! strategy and trivia, so this time I was writing for trivia aficionados who want to learn something about horse racing.  I had a great time working on it — and between Keith’s rundown of the nuts and bolts and my diversions into a few more sophisticated things, hopefully it gives fellow trivia nuts a little idea about the sport and how much fun playing the races can be.

Keen Ice: he’s in!

I have been following Keen Ice since before he debuted.  He finished fourth in his first race, a five and a half furlong maiden race at Ellis.  He was well-beaten that day, and starting to run late.  I hardly worried, though.  Curlin babies tend to develop with age, and five and a half furlongs seemed far too short given both sides of his pedigree.

Keen Ice wowed me on September 6.  That day he stretched to a mile, and looked hopeless turning for home.  Starbound and Tiznow R J had pulled so far in front that they were in a race of their own.  Keen Ice finally figured out that it was time to go — and go, he did!  He motored home to nail them just in time.  Welcome to my Derby radar, Keen Ice.

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Picks and Ponderings: Mubtaahij at Arlington Park!

This morning Mubtaahij worked at Arlington Park.

I went out there early to get a look at him, since it is not every day that a Derby contender comes through Chicago.  The work was an easy three-furlong move on a very windy day, and hardly looked like a Big Derby Work.  Still, it looks like he handled the ship well, and he looked like a healthy and curious horse.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings for video of the work, as well as the unlikely story behind Mubtaahij being on the Derby trail at all.  I also posted more pictures of Mubtaahij from the morning on the Picks and Ponderings Twitter account.

Chicago Railbird: 1.16.15

Not often does an Illinois-bred horse make it to the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby.  The last time a horse bred in the state even made it into the starting gate on the first Saturday in May was in 1989.  That year, Western Playboy won the Jim Beam (now Spiral) Stakes (GII) and the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) en route to a fifteenth-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.

1966 was one of the rare years an Illinois-bred made it to the starting gate of the Kentucky Derby.  A horse named Abe’s Hope became one of that small group, and had an eventful time along the way.  This week at Chicago Railbird, I look at Abe’s Hope and his road to the Derby.