It’s still way too early to get a deep grasp on the Kentucky Derby. Among other things, workouts and post positions are essential parts of the Derby equation. But that doesn’t mean we can’t summarize and analyze what we do know. I’m going to pick 3 horses and see if I can form an opinion on them.
Justify: Starting with anybody but him felt sacrilegious. He’s blazing fast along with being quite precocious — he’s 3 for 3 with a Santa Anita Derby in his belt (with 3 100 or higher Beyer figures.) But only 3 for 3. Because it only takes to the fourth sentence to mention the “Curse of Apollo” — no horse has won the Derby unraced at 2 since Apollo in 1882. “The Curse” isn’t a statistical quirk; it’s a measure of maturity. The Derby is chaotic and overwhelming for many young horses. An experienced horse is calmer. Can Justify overcome the curse? Baffert brought us a Triple Crown — perhaps this is next. He’s fast enough that he could still be affected and win (think of Curlin for a good effort). I think this is a question that every handicapper has to ask for themselves over the next few weeks.
My Boy Jack: You have to like the smart move to go to the Lexington to get the points to qualify for the Derby. He was originally a turf horse and ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, finishing 3 lengths behind Mendelssohn. My Boy Jacks faces Mendelssohn in a rematch of sorts on Kentucky Derby Day. He came back in January after a brief vacation and tried the Dirt in the Sham, finishing a well-beaten third. Interesting, he moved around running at 4 different tracks on his Derby trail. He’s fast, but I don’t know if he is Derby fast and his best win (other than maybe the Lexington) was in the mud at Oaklawn in the GIII Southwest. His profile doesn’t quite scream Derby resume.
Audible: This is a horse that has done nothing wrong. You can excuse the sprinting effort on debut in September — even though he made up tremendous ground. And then all he’s done is win, starting with stretching out to a mile at Aqueduct. He blew away an allowance field, albeit there were only 4 horses running. At Gulfstream, he brought it to a new level, running Derby-level speed. He was dominant in both the Holy Bull and Florida Derby is trained by über-trainer Todd Pletcher. He has the experience that some of the field lacks. I think he stands a good chance come Derby day, and will likely be on most of my tickets.