I Want Revenge, Quality Road, Dunkirk early Derby picks

The man with the toughest job in racing each spring is Mike Battaglia, the morning linemaker at Churchill Downs. Battaglia usually gets criticized for his Kentucky Derby line, when, in reality, he does a fine job.

A good morning line accurately reflects how the public is going to bet the race, not who is going to win it. What makes the Derby line so difficult is with 20 separate betting interests, only three or four horses can have single-digit odds. The other 16 or 17 will be 10-1 odds and higher.

If the Derby was run Saturday, I would make Wood Memorial winner I Want Revenge the favorite at 4-1. Quality Road, the Florida Derby winner, would be next at 5-1 due to his well-publicized quarter crack.

Dunkirk, who it appears will make the field, would be my third choice at 6-1, followed by Pioneerof the Nile at 8-1.

Then, if you like others such as Chocolate Candy, Friesan Fire, Hold Me Back or Papa Clem, the odds will be 10-1 on up. It's overlaid prices like these that makes the Derby the year's best betting race.

TOURNAMENTS -- Three handicapping tournaments will take place this weekend in Las Vegas.

The South Point Finale will be Friday and Saturday. Also on those days, Santa Fe will host two qualifiers for the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship. And The Orleans will have a Horseplayer World Series qualifier Sunday.

KENTUCKY DERBY -- Several local Kentucky Derby handicapping seminars and parties will be held leading to the May 2 race.

At noon Thursday, Jerry Jacovitz of Jerry J's Power Page, Ralph Siraco of Race Day Las Vegas and I will be at the Fiesta Henderson race book.

At 6 p.m. April 30, Richie Saber of Gaming Today, Siraco and Vic Viveo will be at the Palace Station race book.

Two more seminars will be held at 6 p.m. May 1. Dan Shapiro of Lucky's, Dave Tuley of viewfromvegas.com and I will be at the Plaza race book. On the same day and time at Sam's Town, Gordon Jones, John Kelly, Patrick McQuiggan and Mike Willman will conduct their annual Derby seminar.

On May 2, Siraco and Jon Lindo of the Lindo Report will do a seminar in the Orleans Mardi Gras ballroom, where a free Derby party will be held.

Planet Hollywood is hosting a Derby party sponsored by propickracing.com, and the Stratosphere will have a race party sponsored by Del Mar Racetrack.

Richard Eng's horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com.


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