Horses that can Win the 2010 Kentucky Derby
by Trevor Whenham - 4/23/2010
If there is one thing that Mine That Bird last year, and horses like Giacomo and Monarchos before him, have taught us it's that any horse that starts the Kentucky Derby can win it. That being said, there are some horses that just plain have a better chance of winning it all than others. When lesser horses have won the race it's typically because a strange pace scenario has forced horses to throw out their gameplans and just make it up as they go along. A bad pace - too fast usually - can cause the whole race to explode, and leave it for an unlikely horse to pick up the pieces.
There's a chance that that could happen this year because there is a lot of early speed in the race. If that doesn't happen, though, then there are six horses that are classier than the others in the field, and which have the best chance of showing that class and coming out with the win. In other words, if it is a straightforward race then one of these four horses is going to win it. Or at least that's my theory:
Eskendereya - He's the heavy favorite in this race, and for good reason. He has been absolutely dominant in his last two races. More impressive than the wins - which have both been by daylight - has been the way that he has won. In both cases he cruised over the line with almost no help from his jockey, and he looked like he had about four untouched gears in reserve.
The storyline this year has been constant disappointment and underachievement from horses that we thought were good. Surrounded by that, Eskendereya is the only horse entering this race that has been even better than people have thought that they were.
The one concern for this horse is his running style in this race. The pace is going to be very fast, and Eskendereya likes to settle just off the pace before making a move in the stretch. With a blistering pace, though, Eskendereya will have to either work harder than normal to stay in touch with the pace, or he'll have to uncork his charge from further back. That could be a problem, but this horse has so much talent and class that he could be able to overcome that. At this point this horse looks like he could be special. We'll know more by May 2.
Lookin at Lucky - If we take away his last race then this guy is every bit as good as Eskendereya. He was the two year old champion, and his win in the Rebel, which was over dirt, was dominating. He has a very good shot based on those credentials to win this race. He's also trained by Bob Baffert, a true master at getting horses ready for his race, and he has been working incredibly well at Churchill so far.
The only problem that looms is that last race - the Santa Anita Derby. It was, in a word, atrocious. The horse got a terrible start and jockey Garrett Gomez rode one of the worst races of his career. It's like the horse was a trouble magnet - he kept finding it all race, even if he wasn't looking for it. Despite that, he found a way to muster a charge down the stretch to wind up third. I'm willing to throw that race out entirely - he never was given a chance, and it was on a synthetic surface. If that race was just a fluke then this horse may even be better than the favorite.
Sidney's Candy - More than any other horse in the field, this horse gives me a headache. On one hand, he was as impressive as a horse can be in wiring the Santa Anita Derby last time out.
There are just more than one reasons to question that, though. First of all, he's a front runner. That's a hard thing to do at the best of times in the Derby, never mind when there are going to be several other horses fighting for the lead as well - creating what could be a ridiculous pace. Second, as good as he looked at Santa Anita, as we discussed before the best horse in that race had a terrible day and was not a factor. Sidney's Candy didn't really have to beat anyone else, so has he really been tested? Third, he has only run on synthetic tracks. I hate synthetics more than anything, and am very skeptical of a horse's ability to transition from them to dirt until he proves he can. Finally, he is ridden by Joe Talamo. He's a great jockey, but he's only 20 and making his Derby debut. Riding in this race is like nothing else, so trusting a rookie is a scary proposition. He could certainly win, but he has a lot to overcome.
Awesome Act - It wouldn't be the Derby if I didn't fall in love with an off-the-radar gems. This is one of them. He was a distant third to Eskendereya in the Wood Memorial last time out. I'm willing to ignore that, though - he lost a shoe just out of the gate, and he didn't adjust at all. He's better than that race, and he's going to be able to bounce well forward from it. He's a big, impressive horse who is bred for this race, and I think he could be a big part of it.
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