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Best of Vin Narayanan
Top-10 Kentucky Derby betting lessons3 May 2010
Todd Pletcher is one of the best trainers in the United States. He's right up there with Nick Zito, Bob Baffert and D. Wayne Lukas. But until Saturday, he had been 0-24 in the Derby. Now that Pletcher has won the Derby with Super Saver, it's time to give up saying Pletcher can't win the big one.
9. Hot pace melts Sidney's Candy
People backing Sidney's Candy (like me) are still trying to figure out why jockey Joe Talamo had the horse racing ahead of the field at a blistering pace. The splits for the first half-mile and the three-fourths mark were an astounding 22.63 seconds and 46.16 seconds. It was painfully obvious that Sidney's Candy was going to fade down the stretch, and he did -- finishing in a distant 17th place. And yes, we know Sidney's Candy was breaking from the far outside. But there had to be a better path to victory.
8. A day for closers
Thanks to the breakneck pace set by Sidney's Candy and Conveyance, closers like Super Saver and Ice Box ruled the day. In fact, if Ice Box hadn't been blocked two are three times, he might have caught Super Saver at the wire.
7. Churchill Downs can handle rain
It wasn't raining during the Kentucky Derby. But it did rain heavily throughout the day. And the track stayed in fantastic shape. The footing was excellent and even. Horses won on the inside and the outside. And with no track bias, all bettors had to focus on were the horses and the jockeys.
6. Tough trips abound
Jockey Jose Lezcano had to steady Ice Box a few times because of traffic. Paddy O'Prado with Kent Desormeaux stumbled once and ran into traffic more than once. Make Music for Me was pinched back. Stately Victor was bumped. Discreetly Mine was bumped, as was Backtalk. This is typical in a 20-horse field. But it underscores the importance of a great jockey, and the luck needed to a get a good trip.
5. Diane Lane looks great in a hat
This doesn't have anything to do with gambling, but it's the first thing that popped into my head when I saw Lane promoting her new movie, Secretariat. Lane, who looks fantastic, plays Secretariat's owner Penny Chenery in the Disney movie, which is scheduled to debut in October. And if you're reading this article, you should know how it ends already -- Secretariat wins by a lot. Did I mention Lane looks great?
4. Post position matters
Early favorites Lookin At Lucky and Sidney's Candy couldn't overcome poor post positions to win the Derby. Lookin At Lucky, which broke from the No. 1 post position, was squeezed off early and couldn't fight through traffic to reach the winner's circle. Sidney's Candy, which drew the far outside post, tried to race from the front rather than settle in wide. Meanwhile Super Saver, which started from the No. 4 spot, broke clean and was able to veer to the rail quite comfortably.
3. Lookin At Lucky is really good
Despite starting on the far inside, getting bumped and running into traffic, Lookin At Lucky ran a game race and managed to finish sixth. If he'd drawn a better post position, it's likely that the outcome of this would have been different.
2. Ice Box early Belmont favorite
Ice Box backers had to have been thinking their horse could have caught Super Saver if the race was just a few yards longer. At the Belmont, the race isn't just a few yards longer. It's a quarter-mile longer. And with a better trip -- Ice Box had to slow down a few times due to traffic -- and the extra distance, Zito has to like his horse's chances in New York. And so should the bettors.
1. Borel owns Kentucky
It's getting to the point where you can't bet against jockey Calvin Borel at the Kentucky Derby. In 2007, Borel won while riding Street Sense. In 2008, he finished third aboard Denis of Cork. In 2009, he guided 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird to victory. And this year, he rode Super Saver to victory. What's more remarkable is everyone knows he's going to ride the rail to victory, and nobody can stop him. Borel can succeed at other tracks -- he won the Preakness and finished third at the Belmont last year. But he is the undeniably the king of Churchill Downs. Bet against him at your own risk.
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