Life is amazing. I find the symmetry to life to be the most amazing thing. If you live long enough you'll find people enter your life, leave your life, and reenter again when you never expect it. Case in point is today's guest handicapping blogger at The Turk and the Little Turk, Cathy, the Canadian Turk.
I went to high school where I met my wife. My wife has had a friend from second grade on who I also went to high school with. We all traveled in different social circles: My wife was an upstanding citizen, I was an underachieving vodka drinker, and Cathy was a hippy chick, think Stevie Nicks. What Cathy also was at a very young age was a huge Horse Racing fan with a crush on Steve Cauthen and Affirmed. Cathy went on to become a fantastic journalist with a unique voice.
Last year, Cathy's family joined The Turk's clan for a great day at the races at Arlington Race Track. Since then I've been lobbying for her to share her fantastic insights and handicapping acumen to The Turk. We are honored today that she has accepted and without further blathering from me, I present to you Cathy.
TRYING FOR THE TRI: LUCK HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH IT
By the evening of April 3, I had the 2010 Kentucky Derby all figured out. As Eskendereya waltzed all over his Wood Memorial “competition,” I knew it was my year to get revenge for 2009. After last year’s Wood, I also had things all figured out. It was I Want Revenge, then Pioneerofthenile, then everybody else. This year, I was convinced all I needed to do was put a couple longshots under Eskendereya in a trifecta, and I’d be laughing all the way to the windows.
But, déjà vu, the Derby gods decided to again smack down my smugness a week before the race, leaving me scrambling. It’s not pretty to walk around carrying PP’s everywhere you go, tell your son he can’t do homework on his laptop because you need to read handicapping blogs while you watch TVG or tell your kids to fill you in later about school so you can hear Steve Byk’s radio show in the car.
It’s been a lot of last-minute work, but by George, I think I’ve got it. (Of course, I think that every year and am usually wrong, but that’s another story.) There’s money to be made, usually lots, by winning the trifecta, so that’s where I concentrated my efforts.
First things first. The Derby is the biggest field you’ll ever handicap, and I usually begin by throwing horses out. I always start with the ones that have no business in the race (Full disclosure: I did put Mine That Bird on this list last year, but so did most people). So, bye-bye Homeboykris, Backtalk, Dean’s Kitten and Make Music for Me.
Next, I threw out all the synthetic/turf specialists – except for Sidney’s Candy – due to their dismal Derby showings in the past. Because of the unusual amount of speed in the race, I made the decision to throw out all front-runners – again except for Sidney – because I truly believe they will burn each other out.
That left me with a much smaller group to seriously handicap and the more I study, the more I’m Looking at Lucky. He is my top pick and having Baffert in your corner is a bonus.
However, things can and often do go wrong in the Derby, so I need to cover my bases and my posterior. So, the strategy is to put my top three horses on the top and middle of the tri, then add a handful of longshots on the bottom. The 3-3-8 bet I devised on a $1 tri will cost $36, but if it comes in ….sorry, but I know not to get smug again.
Here’s who I picked and why:
THE TOP THREE (Will bet in 1-2-3 slots in my trifecta )
LOOKIN AT LUCKY: He has never run a bad race, ran well in his only dirt start and has been knocked around enough that he won’t freak out when things start getting bumpy in the Derby. His rail post doesn’t scare me – he became fairly familiar with the rail in the Santa Anita Derby and never gave up. These are the qualities you want to see in a Derby contender.
SIDNEY’S CANDY: I was ready to throw him out, but just can’t. He will either win or be completely out of the picture when they cross the wire. Not wanting to look like a fool on May 2 (I know how that feels and I don’t like it), I will add him, although I believe he will not be the same on dirt.
NOBLE’S PROMISE: Throw out his Arkansas Derby and you have a horse who’s never run out of the money and finished barely behind Lucky in his last two starts. If he improves, even slightly, he’ll be there at the end. And his odds should be sweet.
THE REST OF THE BEST (All in the 3 slot)
ICE BOX: Nick Zito, and the fact that the Derby gods love a good comeback story.
DUBLIN: D. Wayne Lukas, and the fact that the Derby gods love a good comeback story.
AWESOME ACT: Lots of excuses in the Wood, and a better wiseguy pick than Mission Impazible
SUPER SAVER: Calvin Borel, plus ran well on a wet track and should be able to rate
JACKSON BEND: Chased Eskendereya, but could get a slice here. Did I mention Zito?
Noticeable in their absence are Devil May Care, who I just don’t think is as good a filly as others who’ve done well in the Triple Crown, and Mission Impazible, who seems to be the big wiseguy horse, meaning his odds will be too low. I may also throw $5 across the board on Noble’s Promise if the odds are right. And, just to be safe, I’ll lay the PP sheets on the couch, see whose name the dog sits on first and put a few dollars on that runner.
Best of luck to the one and only Rachel Alexandra and Happy Derby Day 2010 everyone!
Thanks Cathy! The Turk will be adding his Oaks/Derby Double Handicap as well as the Pick Three on Derby Day as well tomorrow.
And for followers of The Wire Players Derby Dozen, the final poll has been released. This was a really fun and collaborative effort led by Steve at Wire Players and I want to thank him for inviting Ye'Ol Turk to participate.
Have fun with the Derby and Oaks. Don't take these one's too seriously, they are meant to be treasured and remembered. Turk Out!