When Giacomo (2005) and Mine That Bird (2009) won the Kentucky Derby and paid more than $100 for a $2 win ticket, it became easy to suggest that using a dart board is the best tool for picking the Derby winner.
However, fairly logical winners such as Super Saver, Big Brown and Street Sense far outnumber impossible long shots such as Mine That Bird. I think that handicapping the Derby in a normal way, and praying for racing luck in a chaotic 20-horse field, is still better than betting pot luck.
Before I get to the four horses I like best to win the Kentucky Derby, I want to point out two of the favorites that I will not be using on any of my tickets.
The dreaded rail post went to Archarcharch (10-1), and that alone is enough for me to pass on him. Just remember last year when Lookin At Lucky under Garrett Gomez had a horrible trip from the one post.
Uncle Mo (9-2) is another horse I won’t be using. He appears to be a classic case of a top-rated 2-year-old who did not improve at age 3. A human comparison would be a superstar high school athlete who doesn’t cut it in college. He finds out the kids he used to dominate grew bigger, stronger and faster than him.
In every public Derby poll I’ve been involved in this spring, my top choice has been Florida Derby winner Dialed In (4-1). When he won the Holy Bull at Gulfstream in only his second career start, I thought he was a special talent.
Dialed In has a last-to-first running style that made his races at speed favoring Gulfstream Park even more impressive. Trainer Nick Zito has won the Kentucky Derby twice and was second last year with Ice Box.
My next pick is Stay Thirsty (20-1), who is taking the blinkers off for the Derby. Trainer Todd Pletcher tried him the first time with blinkers in the Florida Derby with disastrous results.
Stay Thirsty ran great in the Gotham, besting eventual Wood Memorial winner Toby’s Corner. Mike Repole owns Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo, and I’ve written all along that Stay Thirsty provides his better shot at winning the Derby.
Master of Hounds (30-1) has a chance at becoming the first foreign horse to ship in and win the Kentucky Derby. This is a modest group this year, and in his one prep race he was a nose second in the star-studded UAE Derby at Meydan, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It doesn’t hurt either to have Garrett Gomez up.
Nehro (6-1) will be the universal wiseguy horse off good seconds in the Arkansas and Louisiana derbies. Oddly, he will go off at shorter odds than the two horses that beat him, Archarcharch and Pants On Fire (20-1). In a race that I think will melt down in the stretch, Nehro will be among the late cavalry charge.
My picks: Dialed In, Stay Thirsty, Master of Hounds and Nehro.
Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.