Now that my two favorites – Eskendereya and Endorsement – are no longer in the race, the Kentucky Derby (G1) has lost some of its luster. Eskendereya was my favorite since January and Endorsement was my longshot pick to win the Sunland Derby (G3). However, with those two out of the race, it allows me to be more liberal with my longshots: Mission Impazible (20-1), Super Saver (15-1) and Ice Box (10-1).
Mission Impazible was my longshot pick to win the Louisiana Derby (G2) and I like him to win the Kentucky Derby.
Mission Impazible is a descendent of the Fappiano sire which has produced nine winners of Triple Crown races since 1990: Unbridled (1990 Kentucky Derby), Grindstone (1996 Kentucky Derby), Real Quiet (1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness), Victory Gallop (1998 Belmont), Red Bullet (2000 Preakness), Empire Maker (2003 Belmont), Birdstone (2004 Belmont), Mine That Bird (2009 Kentucky Derby), Summer Bird (2009 Belmont).
With Unbridled’s Song as his sire and Hold Your Peace as his damsire, Mission Impazible has similar breeding to Old Fashioned, winner of the 2008 Remsen Stakes (G2). Hold Your Peace was also the damsire of Peace Rules, winner of the 2003 Louisiana Derby and third-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby.
Unbridled’s Song was a fast racehorse and the 3.50-1 favorite to win the 1996 Kentucky Derby. But Unbridled’s Song developed a quarter-crack after his victory in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) and he raced with two bar shoes in the Kentucky Derby. Unbridled’s Song finished fifth, losing by only 3 ½ lengths to Derby winner Grindstone – another descendent of Fappiano.
Hold Your Peace was the second betting choice in the 1972 Kentucky Derby but finished third, beaten 6 ¾ -lengths by Riva Ridge.
Mission Impazible is lightly-raced and, as such, he’s not getting much respect. But I really like the way he has been moving forward since his 3-year-old debut in January and he’s been working out good at Churchill Downs. He has the pedigree and with some racing luck, Mission Impazible is the best longshot pick that could end up in the winners circle at a nice price.
Super Saver, along with Eskendereya and Winslow Homer were three key horses on my watch last January because I really liked their pedigrees.
Although Super Saver has not fully lived up to my expectations, he has shown me that he is all heart and has the “will to win” in the way he was almost headed in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) but dug down deep to pull away and win by five lengths.
And, in the Arkansas Derby (G1), Super Saver ran a gut-busting race chasing a fast Line Of David – narrowly losing by a neck. Super Saver has speed and stamina and that moves him way up on my list.
Calvin Borel was the jockey in both of those races and I believe that he will drop Super Saver back off the lead to a comfortable cruising spot and try to sprint home to victory. It’s worked for Borel before with Street Sense and Mine That Bird and, if possible, I believe he will try it again.
Super Saver has the “will to win” and so does Borel – that’s a good combination.
Ice Box was my longhsot pick to win the Fountain of Youth (G2) but he finished fifth – 12 lengths behind Eskendereya. Ice Box followed up that performance with win in the Florida Derby (G1), posting a 101 Brisnet Speed Figure for that effort.
The big difference between the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby was jockey Jose Lezcano who waited until the three-quarter pole to make his move with Ice Box. Lezcano retains the mount on Ice Box who has been working out good at Churchill and he fired a bullet in the slop on April 23.
Ice Box is a descendent of the Bold Ruler line and I would love to see him win. However, since 1990, the Bold Ruler line has only produced three winners of Triple Crown races: A. P. Indy (1992 Belmont), Bernardini (2006 Preakness) and Rags To Riches (2007 Belmont).
A win is not out of the question, but Ice Box will need some racing luck to pull that off. If he repeats his Florida Derby performance, I look for Ice Box to finish in the top four.
No doubt about it, Lookin At Lucky is a first-class racehorse and the deserved 3-1 morning line favorite. With a 6-1-1 record in eight starts, Lookin At Lucky is the most decorated colt in the Derby field with two G2 wins, three G1 wins and a second and third-place finish in G1 competition.
Much has been commented on how Lookin At Lucky may be “unlucky” in that he has a nack for getting into trouble. But, in my opinion, Lookin At Lucky also has the “will to win” and despite the ride that Garret Gomez gives him, he always manages to find a way to the winners circle.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffet knows how to prepare racehorses for the rigors of the Kentucky Derby. He’s won the Derby three times and several of his horses have finished in the money. Lookin At Lucky has been working out good at Churchill and a bullet work out April 26 in the mud has Lucky ready to run another good race.
Sidney’s Candy is Mike Battaglia's pick as the 5-1 morning line second-choice in the Kentucky Derby. No doubt, Sidney’s Candy is a very good horse with a 4-1-0 record in six starts. But, overall, Sidney’s Candy has had an easy campaign, winning most of his races going wire-to-wire, setting soft fractions, and after much study I still have a lot of unanswered questions as to how competitive he will be in the Derby.
I don’t believe Sidney’s Candy can win the Derby going wire-to-wire and much of the commentary I’ve heard and read is that Sidney’s Candy could be competitive rating off the lead. But I’m not so sure. I don’t know if Sidney’s Candy has the fire in the belly to sprint to victory and if he drops off the lead he might be content to be one of the herd and follow the leader.
In the only race Sidney’s Candy did not have the lead (an allowance race December 30), it appeared to me that he really did not have any excuse for not winning that race. He hopped off a bit slow at the start but was within easy striking distance the entire race until the stretch and eventually lost by seven lengths to Tiny Woods who led the entire way going wire-to-wire.
It appears that Tiny Woods also may have had a herd mentality as two months later in the San Vicente Stakes, Sidney’s Candy took the early lead, going wire-to-wire, and cruised to a 4 ¼ -length win over Tiny Woods who tracked in second the entire race but had previously beaten Sidney’s Candy – setting faster fractions in the December 30 allowance race.
If Sidney’s Candy has the lead, he is fine but I’m not so sure if he runs off the lead that he has the “will to win” and be the leader of the herd.
Like I previously said, Sidney’s Candy is a very good horse and if he won I would not be surprised. Like Mission Impazible, Sidney’s Candy is a descendent of the Fappiano sire line and his sire, Candy Ride, was an exceptional racehorse. I lot of handicappers I respect like Sidney’s Candy but I don’t have the same confidence level they have and of the most likely to do well in the Derby, he’s the one I have the most questions about.
Stately Victor is quickly becoming the “buzz” horse and several sportswriters are picking him to win the Kentucky Derby. Stately Victor definitely has the pedigree and he could be this year’s version of Charismatic – who I picked to win the 1999 Kentucky Derby. If Stately Victor won, I would not be surprised, but I don’t have the same vibe for Victor that I had for Charismatic.
Mission Impazible will be my win play and I will use him with Super Saver, Ice Box and Lookin At Lucky in most of the exotic wagers. I will also use Sidney’s Candy in a few exotics. If Stately Victor remains at high odds, I may put a small win, place saver bet on him.
Win/Place – 14
Exacta Box – 1-2-4-14
Exacta – 1-2-4-14/1-2-4-14-20
Trifecta Box – 1-2-4-14
Trifecta – 1-2-4-14/1-2-4-14-20/20
Superfecta Box – 1-2-4-14
Win/Place – 6