This week Minneapolis Star Tribune sports reporter Rachel Blount visits the Chalk Pub
“You can’t deal me the aces and think I wouldn’t play.” – Lyric from the song “Aces” by country singer Suzy Bogguss
Last week’s Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest showcased arguably the strongest performance of the spring by a Kentucky Derby contender, as American Pharaoh stepped away from his rivals on the far turn for a decisive eight length victory in the Arkansas Derby. All of the expected accolades for his performance were uttered post-race, and they were well deserved.
It can be argued that the quality of horse chasing American Pharaoh was suspect, but his effortless performance brought me back to the spring of 2009 and the great Rachel Alexandra leaving her Kentucky Oaks rivals nearly 20 lengths behind. Sometimes it’s just about the winner. The Equibase chart caller commented that American Pharaoh “moved at will”.
So what does this mean for the Kentucky Derby? Trainer Bob Baffert will be saddling the two Kentucky Derby favorites in American Pharaoh and Dortmund.
He is holding pocket aces.
If American Pharoah and Dortmund go to post at 2-1 and 4-1, that would put the next group of contenders Carpe Diem, Upstart, Firing Line, International Star, Materiality and Mubtaahij all in the 10-1/20-1 range. It’s a deep field this year, so either the Baffert “aces” will be higher odds than I expect, or there will be some very generous prices on quality runners.
As for the Road to Kentucky contest, the maximum available points last week were 2,436. There were no longshot winners or “must-have” horses needed to secure a top 5 weekly placing. I expect the winning score to be around 1,500 points.
I checked my math twice, but still only found 454 points on my contest card last week. My Lexington selection of Tiznow R J (12-1) ran poorly, and Mr. Z (20-1) gained third in the Arkansas Derby but was certainly no match for American Pharaoh. It continues to be a season where longshots underperformed, entrenching my scores firmly on Page 3.
This Saturday the contest track is Keeneland, but no bonus race on the card as all of the Derby preps are complete. Submit your contest card and then check out the Junk Bonanza! My prior week’s contest cards might be down there.
Hope to see you here!