POST RACE UPDATE: Big Brown. Wow.
Here is your Kentucky Derby winner.
How did I arrive at this pick? It took three easy steps...
1. It started with a text message this morning from BG:
"$21 to win on BOB BLACK JACK, $10 to win on MONBA"
With a brother named Bob, and the obvious gambling reference, BG would be crazy NOT to bet on Bob Black Jack. That's where his heart is. That means his head must be with Monba. (Full disclosure: This is only a guess at BG's motive for that pick, especially since on Friday, BG told me he wasn't actually going to handicap the card.)
2. I read off the names of all 20 horses to Lady Luck, and she selected Monba.
3. Armed with this knowledge, I did a little handicapping of the field. Here's what I figured out:
Colonel John should go off as the favorite and has a great shot at winning this race. Coming out of the 10th post, he's in much better shape than Big Brown. And in the Santa Anita Derby one month ago, he showed the 1 1/4m distance likely won't faze him. That said, I won't bet the favorite in a 20-horse Derby field.
Big Brown should go off as the second favorite. He also has a shot at winning this race, but coming out of the 20th post will be more than he can overcome. He'll expend a lot of energy to get himself closer to the rail and the four horses inside of him are too good to allow him that room. This is the best horse in the field, but he won't win.
Pyro should go off as the third favorite. It wouldn't shock me to see him win. He'll leave the gate just inside of Colonel John. The Blue Grass Stakes was a disaster for Pyro (he finished 10th) but I think the Louisiana Derby is probably a better indication of what he may bring on this day. However, he won't win.
A half-dozen other horses will be real contenders: Wood Memorial-winner Tale of Ekati, Florida Deby-runner up Smooth Air, Santa Anita Derby-runner up Bob Black Jack (who should be the early speed), Blue Grass Stakes-runner up Cowboy Cal, Illinois Derby-winner Recapturetheglory, and Arkansas Derby-winner Gayego (beware of injury whispers on this horse).
All those horses are certainly capable making this a very difficult field to break down. It doesn't take much skill, however, to list 10 horses that could win a race. What you want is the winner. And that winner will be Monba.
I anticipate Monba getting out good from the 14th post, following Bob Black Jack who may be the early leader. Look for Monba to settle in a few off the rail by the first turn. He'll be in trouble if he lets those big horses outside of him get a jump on him, but I think he'll be fine.
By the stretch, Pyro will be passing Bob Black Jack, Big Brown will be rallying from well back on the outside, Colonel John will begin his move from the middle of the pack, but Monba will be best positioned to get the win. He'll duel with Pyro, before winning by a length, Colonel John will get up for third, Big Brown fourth and Bob Black Jack fifth.
There it is. The Blue Grass Stakes winner will make it happen again.
And, since you asked, Big Brown will take the Preakness and Colonel John (after skipping the Preakness) will take the Belmont.
Place your bets!
My bets are now placed.
$10 Win #14 Monba
$10 Win #9 Pyro
$7 Win #2 Tale of Ekati
$5 Win #13 Bob Blackjack
$2 Ex #14 Monba w/ #9 Pyro
$2 Ex Box #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown
$2 Tri #14 Monba w/ #9 Pyro w/ #10 Colonel John
$1 Tri #14 Monba, #9 Pyro w/ #14 Monba, #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown w/ #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown, #13 Bob Black Jack
$2 Tri Box #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown
$1 Super #14 Monba, #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown
$1 Super #14 Monba, #9 Pyro w/ #14 Monba, #9 Pyro, #10 Colonel John, #20 Big Brown w/ #10 Colonel John, #13 Bob Blackjack, #20 Big Brown w/ #10 Colonel John, #13 Bob Blackjack, #20 Big Brown
$1 High Five #14 Monba w/ #9 Pyro w/ #10 Colonel John w/ #20 Big Brown w/ #13 Bob Blackjack
That's $96 dollars in bets. I planned to spend $100, but lost a few bucks on the 9th race (Oneida did pick the winner by name, however, or I would have lost even more!). Good luck at the windows!