We Miss Artie Odds to Win the 2014 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 4/18/2014
As a Canadian, I can't help but pull for We Miss Artie at least a little bit. He is a Canadian-bred, born in Ontario. Because of that, he is not only being aimed towards the Derby but also, if things go according to plan, potentially the Queen's Plate - essentially the Canadian equivalent of the Derby. Makes you want to stand up and sing "O Canada," doesn't it? So, patriotism aside, can We Miss Artie win the Kentucky Derby? The oddsmakers at Sportsbook.ag must not be Canadians - We Miss Artie's odds to win the Kentucky Derby sit at +4500, which puts him behind 13 other likely entrants in the race. When trying to determine whether the first Saturday in May will be a future holiday in Canada, here are four factors to consider:
The Spiral Stakes: The prep win that got this horse here was the Spiral Stakes. He settled far off the pace early on and looked comfortable doing it. Around the final turn he found himself five wide, but he wasn't bothered by it. He drove forward under consistent urging and was ahead by a jump at the wire in a very tight three-horse finish. There are a couple of concerns coming out of that race, though. First, that race was run on the synthetic surface at Turfway Park. There has to be real questions about how well his form there will translate to the dirt at Churchill. As significantly, the other two horses that he narrowly beat - Harry's Holiday and Coastline - certainly did not flatter the race next time out. Both horses appeared in the Blue Grass Stakes on the synthetic at Keeneland. Coastline contended early before fading to 10th, and Harry's Holiday had nothing left entering the final turn and wound up 13th. If those two came out of the Spiral so poorly, it's hard to believe that We Miss Artie is dramatically better.
Surface questions: The Derby is obviously run on dirt. It's hard to feel good about this horse on dirt. He has run three of his eight starts on dirt. One hardly counts - it was his first start, and it was just five furlongs, so it is very tough to draw any meaning from. After that he was a non-threatening seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita and a really unimpressive eighth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream. Meanwhile, he has won both of his starts on the synthetic surface and has a first and a second in three starts on turf. Does that sound like a dirt horse to you?
Trainer: Todd Pletcher. Tough guy to assess when it comes to the Derby. He is consistently one of the best trainers in the country, and there is little he hasn't won. He is also a master at getting horses to the Derby. He will have at least three entrants this year, and he could wind up with four. That's not uncommon, either - he had five just last year, and that wasn't the first time. As good as he is at getting horses to the race, though, he has been really lousy at getting horses to fire on the big day. He has had 36 starters, and only Super Saver in 2010 has come out on top. It's perplexing why he has done so badly when he can hardly lose elsewhere. While having him as a trainer shouldn't scare you off a Derby horse, it certainly isn't a big asset for a runner.
Breeding: As I said, this horse has not performed like a dirt horse, and that's because he isn't bred like one. His sire, Artie Schiller, won the 2005 Breeders' Cup Mile on the grass. Most of his breeding success has come on the turf, with the synthetic second best. He doesn't have a real dirt profile. Dam Athena's Gift won two races, and both came on the grass. The only bright spot is her sire. Fusaichi Pegasus won the 2000 Kentucky Derby and has sired some successful dirt horses. I'm not at all convinced that his presence is enough to make this horse run on dirt, though. The good news for this horse, though, is that the Queen's Plate is run on the synthetic surface at Woodbine, so he has a better spot ahead of him if he stays healthy through this one.
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