May 7, 2022
It’s the first Saturday in May, which can mean only one thing: I am about to humiliate myself before my dozens of faithful readers and pick a sure loser in the Kentucky Derby.
Actually, I have correctly predicted the winner in each of the last two runnings (though, it must be added, last year’s winner, Medina Spirit, was subsequently disqualified for competing with prohibited medication in its system). Three in a row? It is, I suppose, plausible. But don’t count on it.
In any event, the usual caveats apply: Horse racing is a tough game under any circumstance. When you add in the fact that 20 relatively inexperienced and still-maturing horses will be running a distance none of them has ever run before, it’s darn well near impossible to pick a winner with any degree of regularity.
Of course, as I say, I DID pick the winner correctly in each of the last two years. So there’s that.
That said, there are seven horses that I think have a shot (and one, Happy Jack, who will be wearing saddle-cloth #2, who does not: If he wins, I will film myself on all fours barking like a dog and I will post it to this blog).
One of the following is likely to win:
#1 Mo Donegal (5 starts, 3 wins) — The rail is a tough draw in a big field like this, and Mo Donegal is likely to be stuck behind a wall of horses when the real running begins. On the other hand, he hasn’t thrown in a bad effort yet.
#3 Epicenter (6 starts, 4 wins) — He will be heavily bet, and deservedly so. He has won four of his last five races, finishing just a head back in the race that he lost.
#5 Smile Happy (4 starts, 2 wins) — An intriguing longshot, who might improve enough to figure.
#6 Messier (6 starts, 3 wins) — Finished second in the Santa Anita Derby last out, which is exactly where Medina Spirit finished last year before winning the Derby. Before being disqualified.
#8 Charge It (3 starts, 1 win) — Lightly raced and will be a deserved longshot, but stranger things have happened.
#15 White Abarrio (5 starts, 4 wins) — This is my choice. There are a couple of other gray horses in the race, but his coat is almost white, which will make him easy to spot among the crowd of chestnuts and bays. The post is no help, but he just may have what it takes.
I am leaning against two horses that will be heavily bet — the undefeated Taiba (the #12) and the probable favorite Zandon (the #10). Taiba is facing a very tall order in just his third lifetime start, and Zandon is a late runner, who will need to weave his way through and around a dozen or more tiring horses to get to the front in time.
Don’t say I didn’t tell you so.