2014 Derby Trial

Derby Trial at Churchill Downs

Ack AckWe are just one week away from this year’s Kentucky Derby, but before we can get to the excitement of that race, we have one last hurdle to cross- the Derby Trial. This Saturday a field of 10 three year olds will travel one mile in the $150,000 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs. Since its inauguration in 1924, this race has seen quite a few champions grace its winner’s circle including Black Gold, Citation, Bold Lad and Ack Ack. In this year’s edition it seemed as if the Derby Trial would have no effect on the 140th Kentucky Derby since it was not allotted any points. But for one entry, a win here could have a say on whether he gets in or not. Another entry may be using this race as a workout for the Derby. Let’s take a closer look.

Bob Baffert and the Derby Trial

BayernYou have to love Bob Baffert for this just for making the Derby Trial interesting, right? He has two entries in this race and both are co-favorites at 2 to 1 on the morning line- Bayern and Chitu. Let’s start with Bayern. Bayern is one of the “bubble” horses for this year’s Kentucky Derby sitting in the 23rd slot with 20 points and $100,000 in earnings. Above him and waiting to get into the field are Commanding Curve (20 points and $140,000 in earnings) and Pablo Del Monte (20 points and $102,000 in earnings.) Sitting in the number 20 spot and in the Derby field (for now) is Harry’s Holiday with 20 points and $152,622 in earnings. That puts Bayern $52,622 within striking distance of getting into the Kentucky Derby with a win. Let’s do the math. 1% of the purse will go to owners of the horses who finish 6th through last. One percent of $150,000 is $1500. ChituThat leaves us with $148,500. 62% of the remaining purse goes to the winner- $92,070. 20% will go to 2nd place- $29,700. 10% to third- $14,850. 5% to fourth- $7,425. And 3% to fifth- $4,455. A win here by Bayern gets him into the Derby and past Harry’s Holiday, where at least a second or third place finish steps him up above Pablo Del Monte (in hopes that another 2 entries fall out). This should be a very crucial race for Bayern (provided Baffert wants him in the Derby.) Keep in mind, Chitu is horse here, too and Hoppertunity, who has also locked in his spot for the Derby field. Now let’s take a look at Chitu. He is already in the 12th spot for the Derby field, so why is he entered here? Here’s what Baffert had to say-


“I am going to enter him, but I am not sure if he will run. This gives me an option. He’s a lazy work horse. He needs to get one good work and I want to see how he trains.”

SpotWill Chitu run in the Derby Trial? Will Chitu run in the Derby?! Baffert has something up his sleeve, although don’t ask me what, lol. At any rate, even if he does run in the Trial, he wouldn’t have my bet simply because this should just be a work for him. Doesn’t mean he can’t win this one, but I would think Baffert would prefer the win here from Bayern (who actually looks the best in this field, in my opinion.) Even if Bayern doesn’t get into the Derby, Baffert is planning on having him ready for the Preakness, so keep an eye out. As for my value play, I like Spot at 4/1 on the morning line, mostly for his win in the Grade 2 Swale at Gulfstream. For my longshot play, I am considering Big Sugar Soda at 15/1 on the ML.  Good luck everybody!





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Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

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