The Brock Talk

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Early Trifecta

When I wager on the Kentucky Derby, I play the trifecta. That is I try to pick the first three horses to cross the finish line in exacta order. That is an almost impossible task to hit cold, so we play what is called the old "$1 Trifecta part-wheel," or a "$1 trifecta key." Here's what it looks like:

Must Finish First:
I Want Revenge or Pioneerof the Nile
Must Finish Second:
I Want Revenge, Pioneerof the Nile or Hold Me Back
Must Finish Third:
I Want Revenge, Pioneer of the Nile, Hold Me Back, Desert Party or Dunkirk

This is a $12 ticket or there are 12 different possible winning scenarios, each costing $1.

I've tried for weeks to find somebody that I thought could beat I Want Revenge and I can't. He has looked great on the track including another effortless yet spirited drill this morning going a half-mile in :47.34 seconds and galloping out five furlongs in 1:01.14. He may not have had the stiffest of competition in the Wood Memorial, but his trip was horrid after a very slow break and no racing room down the stretch.

There is no correct answer to the question of who the best jockey or trainer is in the Kentucky Derby. But Pioneerof the Nile's team provides about as close as you can get. Jockey Garret Gomez has been among the best jockeys in the country now for years and Bob Baffert will be looking for his fourth Kentucky Derby victory. And the Santa Anita Derby winning horse ain't that bad either. He defeated I Want Revenge twice this winter and quite a few others in the Kentucky Derby as well. He appears to have answered the questions about the racing surface and has looked very good in the mornings. And I think he'll have a nice early pace on the front end.

I always like to have a fairly good longshot in the second spot and I'm hoping Hold Me Back's odds will be between 15-1 and 20-1. It's killing me not to put Desert Party or Dunkirk here, but trainer Bill Mott (Cigar) must see something in this colt to bring him here. Mott is a Hall of Fame trainer who goes by the old and now rare addage of not "leading one over to the grandstand who he doesn't think can win."

Two horses I've left out are the likely second favorite Friesan Fire and the longshot I've been talking about, Muskat Man. Muskat Man has not had rave reviews since his arrival at Churchill Downs. I like him on paper quite a bit, but again somebody has to go. I took off Friesan Fire for two minor reasons: First, his odds are too low. If I'm going to play the favorite, I better have the courage to toss out the second choice in terms of betting. I also don't like the long layoff of six weeks or the fact that he comes here training on Keeneland's polytrack. I know trainer Larry Jones has done it before with the last two runner-ups, but its just too many strikes for me.

Now remember, it's still nearly four days until post time for the Derby. We can still make adjustments.

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