Well it is finally here, the Kentucky Derby is less than a week away and the picture couldn’t be any more clouded than right now. UNCLE MO last year’s two year old champion and the early favorite for the Kentucky Derby faltered in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct tiring in the lane to finish third as the very heavy favorite. It was found after the race that he was suffering from a gastrointestinal infection. He was treated for that and has worked well since moving to Churchill Downs where we know he likes the track based on his win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
With so much going on the week of the Derby those of us that are handicapping the race shouldn’t fall into the traps that can sometimes knock you off stride. Remember it is just a 1 and 1/4 mile race that happens to be the first leg of the Triple Crown and also have a field of 20 horses. If it was just another race for three year olds would all these trends that they talk about when it comes to Derby time even come up. You can’t win if you didn’t run at two, the two year old champion can’t win until STREET SENSE won the Derby and so on and so on. The post positions in this race depending on which horse your backing can really have an impact so before making my Kentucky Derby selections I will need to see the post position draw. The weather and the track condition will also be a big factor as to who you will select come Derby Day. The weather in Kentucky has not been good over the last few days with plenty of rain, sloppy tracks and it will throw another dynamic into the mix if the track is wet on Derby Day. Certain horses move up in the slop, some can’t stand up over a sloppy track. Some sloppy tracks can favor speed and others can be a come from behind closers’ track. There is a lot to look at heading into May 7th, the works, the track condition, the post positions, and many others. It is still up in the air as to who is 100% going to run. The have been many horses over the last few weeks that have dropped out and will not contest the Derby for one reason or another and with five days left before race day a lot can still happen.
Go back and watch all the replays of the prep races, remember that track condition and horses that have run well over the Churchill Downs strip should be upgraded and the post position draw can impact the race in a big way. If your a horse that needs to be up close and gain position early post 1 can be dicey. The point here is don’t be overwhelmed by the Derby, handicap as you would any other race but remember there are a few issues that can affect this race that might not affect another 1 and 1/4 mile race. 20 horses can become a big problem causing much traffic especially into the first turn which can cost a horse the race, you dont have 20 horse races in North America except in the Derby. Take that into account when handicapping this race and how certain horses will be affected by it.