The 2011 edition of the most exciting two minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby, is perhaps the most wide-open race in the history of the event.
Successful exotic wagerers can expect unprecedented payoffs this year, as wagering pools project to be the largest ever. Here is http://www.TheOnlinwire.com's Roger Mayflower rundown on some of this year's probable starters and suggestions for anyone looking to enhance the excitement with a $2 wager.
Nehro – the probable post-time favorite comes into this race off 2nd place finishes in the Louisiana and Arkansas Derby. Steve Asmussen, leading trainer for years at Lone Star Park has been dying to win the Derby for years, after tasting Triple Crown success with Curlin in the 2007 Preakness, and this just might be his year. This bay colt out of Mineshaft was closing fast at the end of the Arkansas Derby, and figures to appreciate the added distance of a furlong. However, yesterday's workout was cause for concern, as Nehro looked very out of sorts on a sloppy track, and recorded a slow time. This weekend's forecast includes a chance for more showers. Mixed signals as the vast majority of Derby winners have recorded a bullet workout leading up to the race. Race day decision.
Pants on Fire - made liars, liars, out of everyone who said he couldn't win the Louisiana Derby against Mucho Man Man. His win was further flattered when runner-up in the race Nehro went to Oaklawn Park and finished a fast-closing 2nd to Archarcharch in the Arkansas Derby. Lots of concern over the long layoff since his last race in the Louisiana Derby on March 26th. Had only a maiden win on his resume in 6 tries before that race. Legitimate reasons for concern, handle with care!
Mucho Man Man - winner of the Risen Star Stakes at Fairgrounds in New Orleans threw a shoe at the beginning of the Louisiana Derby with part of his hoof attached and still ran a credible 3rd. Encouraging workouts since arriving at Churchill Downs a good sign. Has the pedigree to get the distance and has plenty of room for improvement since he was a late 2007 foal, the middle of June to be exact, and won't be three years old until then. Concern over the long layoff is legit. Mixed signals?
Uncle Mo – Eclipse-Award winning 2-year old has not returned to his champion juvenile form this year in his two Derby preps. Pedigree is a huge question in whether or not he can get 10 furlongs, since his sire Indian Charlie is known for siring sprinters and milers. Had a legitimate excuse in the Wood, with an infection hampering him as he failed to fire in the stretch after sensible fractions on the lead. Figures to be at least the 2nd post-time favorite in the race. Workouts this week at Churchill Downs have been encouraging. Demand reasonable odds before making a play.
Archarcharch – a feel good story as trainer William Fires' first Kentucky Derby horse after decades of trying, and his son-in-law Jon Court is the rider. The Southwest Stakes and Arkansas Derby champ won the most impressive of all Derby preps with an excellent stretch run at Oaklawn Park April 16th. Also recorded the fastest Beyer Speed figure (98) in the Arkansas Derby of any 3 year-old this spring outside of The Factor, who has been ruled out of the Derby by trainer Bob Baffert. Intriguing, don't overlook this fast improving dark bay son of Arch, sire of last years Breeders' Cup Classic champion Blame, as he figures to be no better than the 4rd betting choice at post-time.
Midnight Interlude – Santa Anita Derby winner is the surprise Derby entry for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who expected to bring the ultra-speedy The Factor to this race until he flipped his palate while flopping as an odds-on favorite in the Arkansas Derby. Did not race as a 2 year-old, practically a requirement for all Derby winners in the past century. But with such an average crop of 3 year-olds, this could be the year that rule of thumb is discarded. Great workout on Monday where he blew out 5 furlongs in just over 1:00. A value pick who just may be peaking at the right time.
Comma to the Top - Santa Anita Derby runner-up fought gamely in the stretch while grudgingly yielding ground to Midnight Interlude. Connections had said they would not run in the Derby before his stellar showing in the Santa Anita Derby. His front-running style will meet with heavy resistance, and the son of Bwana Charlie has serious questions regarding distance. However, with the continued defection of speed horses such as The Factor and J.P.'s Gusto, his chances of stealing off to an easy lead, or butting heads with only Soldat as opposition just may land him a piece. Watch closely in the paddock before making a final decision.
Toby's Corner – weaved deftly through traffic to win the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, experience that could serve him well in the Derby. And if the rains fall on the first Saturday in May, he has proven experience in navigating the slop. Contender.
Master of Hounds – with such an average bunch of 3 year-olds, the Irish invader and UAE Derby runner-up may very well ship over for a try at the Run for the Roses. Trainer Aiden O'Brien is well respected when he brings horses over the pond annually for the Breeders' Cup, but he has not yet seen such luck in the Derby. The horse has yet to race on dirt and remains a huge question mark with Beyer speed figures well below the contenders in this race. Pass.
Animal Kingdom – the winner of the Grade III Spiral Stakes was flattered when the 3rd place finisher in that race, Twinspired, finished a close 2nd in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. Still, it would take the effort of his life to come anywhere close to hitting the board. Think hard before you wager on this likely long shot.
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