Horses That Can Win the Kentucky Derby
by Trevor Whenham - 4/29/2011
I have been watching the Kentucky Derby avidly for almost 30 years. In that time I don’t remember seeing a class as confounding and underwhelming as this one. Most years the problem is that there are so many exciting horses that choosing just one is all but impossible. This year the problem is that I’m not convinced that there is any horse good enough to win. There will be a winner though -- that much I know for sure.
Given the lack of clear stars in this class it’s hard to isolate some clear contenders. That won’t stop me from trying, though. Mine That Bird showed us that any horse can win this race, but some horses clearly are better prepared than others. Here are the seven horses that can win the Kentucky Derby in 2011:
Dialed In - He’s likely to be the favorite, but he’s not exactly a thrilling option. He’s coming off a win in the Florida Derby -- the race that produced Barbaro and Big Brown. There are all sorts of reasons to be skeptical, though. He has only run four times in his career -- fewer than would be ideal. He won three of those races, but the fourth was a flat performance in a race that should have been very easy for him. He hasn’t run in a big field, either. He’d probably run his best if there was speed that set a fast pace so he could come from the back and pick up the pieces, but convincing speed is hard to find in this field. Needless to say, I’m not convinced. Still, he’s won at this track, and trainer Nick Zito has won the race twice, so you can’t rule him out.
Uncle Mo - This one requires a leap of faith. Up until his last outing in the Wood Memorial the two year old champion was a lock to be the favorite in the Derby - and probably a heavy one. But then that race was a total disaster. He had the lead around the final turn but then slammed it in reverse and was passed twice. It subsequently came out that he had a gastrointestinal issue that caused some problems in the race. The lasting effects of that illness are a concern, and so is his ability to get the distance. Ultimately, though, I couldn’t have been more impressed by the horse last year, and I have to believe he still has some of that magic left in him. The good news is that the price on him will be much better here than it would have been if he had run his race in the Wood.
Nehro - He hasn’t won anything significant, but he has the distinction of being the fastest improving horse in a field of runners that seems to be moving backwards. He was a solid second in both the Louisiana Derby and the Arkansas Derby, and he’s bred to handle the distance well. Steve Asmussen is the real deal as a trainer as well. The more I look at him, the more I like him - and that really says something about the quality of this field.
Archarcharch - He has won three stakes races, and his best performance came in his last outing in the Arkansas Derby -- he had to go wide but still had enough in the tank at the end. I think he can get the distance, and he’s in solid form, so he can’t be ruled out. I’d feel better if his connections were more experienced on this stage, or if the Arkansas Derby hadn’t set up pretty much perfectly for him.
Toby’s Corner - He took advantage of Uncle Mo’s no-show to win the Wood. More impressive than that win, though, was how he got it -- he moved through a lot of traffic and closed hard for the win. That’s a running style that works well in the Derby, so he needs to be watched. He could provide nice value.
Mucho Macho Man - At first glance it’s a concern that he was only third in the Louisiana Derby last time out. When you consider that he lost a shoe right out of the gate, though, that result actually proves to be a pretty good sign of heart. Combine that with a whole lot of experience and he’s one to watch. The biggest concern, though, is his breeding -- sire Macho Uno was best at shorter distances, and it’s hard to believe this horse will have the stamina to handle the classic distance.
Midnight Interlude - He’s improving with every race, he won the Santa Anita Derby, and he’s trained by my all-time favorite trainer -- Bob Baffert -- so he’s a factor. There are a couple big concerns, though. The Santa Anita Derby was a huge step up in class for him, so this will be another big leap forward, and we can’t be sure he is ready for that -- especially because the field in that race was very underwhelming. More significantly, though, he didn’t race as a two year old. The last time a horse won the Derby without juvenile experience was 1882.
Doc’s Sports expert Kentucky Derby handicappers will have a full card of Kentucky Derby picks for the Run for the Roses on May 7. Doc’s has been putting in extra work this year handicapping the Kentucky Derby field and we expect a big payday on Saturday. Get all Doc’s Kentucky Derby predictions for just $20! Click Here to purchase.
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