Last year’s Derby was easy. Big Brown stood out a mile over 19 overmatched 3-year-olds. This year’s Derby, however, is another story altogether. Whether you’re betting at a racetrack, simulcast facility or online, true horseplayers are playing the Derby. Even the most casual racing fan puts at least a few bucks down on Derby Day—it’s almost un-American not to.

So here is how I see this year’s running. It may be a bit chalky and lacking in creativity but I believe one of the top four morning line favorites will win: I Want Revenge (3-1), Dunkirk (4-1), Pioneerof the Nile (4-1) or Friesan Fire (5-1).

I was all set to pick Dunkirk, believing he might be this year’s edition of Curlin—lightly raced but the most talented of the bunch. However, I’m hearing that the $3.7 million colt is not handling his Churchill Downs surroundings all that well. If you’re washing out in the morning and in a paddock schooling session, what happens on Saturday in front of 150,000 rabid rans? I still have to respect him, however. His three races have been too good (backed up by a big speed figure in the Florida Derby) to deny that this is one talented runner.

 I Want Revenge doesn’t have any holes. Everyone saw his monster effort in the Wood, he has trained forwardly and is great hands. My one concern is that young jockey Joe Talamo might get the jitters and make a mistake. However, with ‘Revenge’s tactical speed and outside post, I think he might get the “Big Brown trip”, stalking the leaders while outside in the clear. He’s fast and consistent, so he should run his race.

Pioneerof the Nile has not blown me away despite winning four straight in Southern California. However, my gut feeling is that we haven’t seen his best yet. He will get more pace at which to run, might move up on a traditional dirt track and is trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert. Whatever is he is capable of, he will show it on Saturday.

Finally, Friesan Fire. To me he’s a bit of an X-factor. The king of Louisiana swept the Fair Grounds series, topped off by a romping 7-length win over a muddy track in the Louisiana Derby. He has tactical speed, tries hard every time out, probably moves way up over a wet track and is trained by one of the best in the business, Larry Jones. How fitting would it be to see Jones win this year after all he endured last year with the breakdown of Eight Belles?

There are some longshot fringe players that I think could impact the trifecta and superfecta, including my preferred longshot Hold Me Back (15-1). Others with a chance at a price include Papa Clem (20-1), West Side Bernie (30-1), Chocolate Candy (20-1), Summer Bird (50-1) and General Quarters (20-1). I will try to devise some betting strategy that will use these bombers in the “underneath” slots for the exotics. Here is a listing of more Kentucky Derby Odds.

Or I may just resort to a self-serving hunch play. I am one of two managing partners (along with Brett Lindenbaum) in a new racing syndicate called Summit Racing. We currently have three horses in training with three different trainers: Bob Baffert, Jerry Hollendorfer and Jeff Mullins. It just so happens that each has a horse in this year’s Derby. How can I not key my plays around Pioneerof the Nile, Chocolate Candy and I Want Revenge?

However you play it, this year’s Derby features a very talented group while offering up the chance for a big-time score. Good luck on Saturday.

NOTES:Â Bodog Racebook is offering a special Kentucky Derby deal. Make a $100 deposit and a $100 match bonus will automatically be issued to your account. Click here for more details.

My Saturday Premium Play selection sheet ($10) for Hollywood Park will be available by 10:00 p.m. (Pacific) on Friday night and will include Kentucky Derby selections and betting strategy.


4 Responses to “One of Four Will Win Derby”

  1. Mark Ripple on May 1st, 2009 7:57 am

    I like your “longshot fringe players”. Of those, I really like Hold Me Back, Chocolate Candy, and West Side Bernie (in that order). The Kentucky Derby is a great race to “dutch” a few longer odds horses.

    Great luck!

    Mark Ripple
    Handicapping the Wall Street Way

  2. on May 4th, 2009 5:20 am

    bird, bird bird.
    bird is the word.

  3. ING on May 16th, 2009 9:46 pm

    Hey Bob,

    Why is it that all the “bird” backers and supporters have all come out “after the Derby” and we didn’t hear from them before? Just curious! :)

  4. Bob on May 19th, 2009 1:35 pm


    I’m not sure who you are referring to. I’ve yet to read one thing from anyone you said they liked Mine That Bird going into the Derby.

    In fact, most things I’ve read since the Derby have been just the opposite. Everyone wondering how the horse possibly won.

    –Bob Ike

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