This may come as a surprise to some, given my affinity for sports nobody else likes, but I don't know dick about horse racing. That's why I've brought in reader Randy King to provide a little bit of knowledge while we wait to lose lots of money. His words are after the jump.
This year's group of 3 year olds is proving to be pretty lackluster from year's past. From the advent of poly-track racing, to sheiks buying up a larger portion of 2 year olds, the group making this year's Run for the Roses has been called by some experts a colorful lottery, in that no one horse stands above the rest.
The morning line favorite is Big Brown, named for his favorite package carriers. He has shown the most talent out of all the other horses, but the big knock is his lack of experience. He has only raced 3 times in his life (hindered by troubled feet); the last horse to win with only 3 starts or less is Regret in 1915. You will hear this fact about as often as you heard that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit. What they fail to tell you is that only 9 horses since 1955 fit the same criteria, hardly enough to make a definitive pattern. He is also starting from post 20, where no horse since 1929's gelding Clyde Van Dusen has reached the Winner's Circle. These facts can be overlooked rather easily in that there are a lot of horses racing who have only raced 4 or 5 times, so it's not a noticeable difference. Big Brown did start on the far outside in his last start at the Florida Derby when he shot to the lead and never looked back, winning by an impressive five lengths.
Other notable storylines are to see if Eight Belles can become just the fourth filly, and first since Winning Colors in 1988, to wear the prestigious roses (joining Genuine Risk in 1980 and Regret in 1915 as well). The trainer angle is always one that comes in to play, most notably the "best trainer to never win" Todd Pletcher, trying to break a 0-19 slump, with Monba, winner of the Blue Grass Stakes and Cowboy Cal who finished second by a neck in the same race. The most fun trainer angle comes from the reunion of Ronnie Lamarq and Louie Roussel, who came together 20 years ago with the accomplished Risen Star, but only ran third in the Derby before going on to smoke the field 2 weeks later at the Preakness and winning like his Dad, Secretariat, by 15 lengths at the Belmont. Not long after, Roussel suffered chronic back problems and returned back to his law practice, most notably fighting the Big Tobacco companies in Scott v American Tobacco.
Betting the favorites is never a practice that yields positive financial results in the world of horse racing, but the Derby is a rare exception. You get decent prices on horses that otherwise would be overwhelming favorites. That being said, I'm going to try and beat the talented colt Big Brown. My top 4 that I'll be throwing in exacta's and tri's are Colonel John, Tale of Ekati, Z Fortune, and my pick to win... Recapturetheglory.
Just please remember the most important part of this spectacular day.... Drink a copious amounts of bourbon while screaming at the top of your lungs "Run, you stupid fucking horse, RUN!"