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2014 Kentucky Derby- Mike Sr.’s Picks

Mike Sr.’s Kentucky Derby 140 Picks

California ChromeIt is absolutely my favorite time of year. The birds are singing and the green is returning to the grass and the trees. Everything feels new to me. And I believe that is the way God intended it to be. I am truly thankful to Him for a lot and especially for this time of year. Oh yes. The Kentucky Derby is about to be run for the 140th time and it is my honor and privilege to preview this iconic American race. The morning line favorite is the Santa Anita Derby winner, Art Sherman’s California Chrome, breaking from post 5 with Victor Espinoza in the irons. Chrome has won four in a row and definitely likes to go to the lead. In fact, I believe he will be gunning for it from the get go if he breaks well. A lot depends on the break. If he doesn’t break well, he will be sent anyway to try and push the pace setter. I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the pace will be torrid.

Wildcat RedBob Baffert’s Chitu with Martin Garcia is way outside in the 13 hole and make no mistake he will be going for the lead also. Like California Chrome, he has raced primarily on the west coast where the tracks seem just a tad faster than the tracks in the east. Now Chitu is in at 20-1 and I don’t believe he has a shot at winning, but he will have a say in the early pace and in the outcome of the race. Also there is another speedster in here by the name of Wildcat Red with Luis Saez aboard. He too will try to set the pace and will not let Chrome get to an easy lead. Red got beat a neck in the Florida Derby after setting all the fractions. It is the only way he knows how to run. Again I don’t believe he will win it, but he will have a say so in the race. Another speed horse that will show up early on the first Saturday in May is Michael Maker’s General a Rod with Joel Rosario up. He likes the early going also and will try to get the lead. He was third in the Florida Derby and second in the Fountain of Youth. There are others who would like to have the lead but probably won’t get it. At any rate, you see where this is going. Unless California Chrome is the next Secretariat, and I don’t believe he is, he has his work cut out for him.

Wicked StrongSecond choice in the ML is Bob Baffert’s Hoppertunity with Mike Smith in the saddle. Baffert won the Rebel Stakes with this one at Oaklawn Park, but opted to run against Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby instead of the Arkansas Derby. I couldn’t figure that move out, but that is why I am not training a Derby horse. He is a stalker type horse and I give him an excellent shot at winning the Derby. Third choice in the morning line is James Jerken’s Wicked Strong with Rajiv Maragh in the irons. This one came from off the pace to win the Wood Memorial in fine style. He drew the 20 post position and that is a tall order for anyone to win from there. Fourth choice in the morning line is Todd Pletcher’s Danza with Joe Bravo scheduled to ride. Danza ran third beaten by  only a half length in the Saratoga Special last year. Both of the horses that beat him in that 61/2 furlong were speed burners- Corfu and Wired Bryan. Danza was flying at the end of that one and the comment in the past performance read “…finished fast”.

Danza.So who will win the 140th Run for the Roses?  This is a Special race. It is always a Special race and a trip to the winner’s circle in this one is highly coveted. There are 20 horses in this race and a victory by anyone will be earned. There is so much potential for your horse to get into trouble with all that traffic. The traffic also presents the possibility of accidents and that is why I pray for the safety of every jockey and horse in the race. To pick a winner out of these twenty horses is a very difficult thing to do. But I will take a stab at it. Like I said earlier, I believe the pace will be a hotly contested one. I think that California Chrome, Chitu Wildcat Red and possibly others will be gunning for the lead. I think that the six furlong time will be around the 1:10 mark. I have just learned that Baffert’s other charge, Hoppertunity, is out of the race due to some sort of injury. While I did not pick him to win, I did think that he would be in the money somewhere. At any rate that is out. As in all route races that have two or more early speed horses in them, I believe that the early going will do most of them in. I think that Danza will prevail and win it, with Wicked Strong second and California Chrome third.

Danza_Let me tell you why I think Danza will win. Ordinarily, I would not pick such a lightly raced colt to win a prestigious race like this, but there are 4 reasons I like him. First of all I liked his race in the Saratoga Special last year. He was moving fastest of all at the end of that race. In that situation he lay well off the pace and then made his run. Secondly, he exploded on the turn in the Arkansas Derby after a stalking trip. This tells me that he is very versatile and can stalk or come from far back depending on what the pace dictates. Thirdly, his time in the Arkansas Derby was 2/5 of a second or so slower than the Oaklawn Handicap on the same day which was won by Will Take Charge, last year’s three year old of the year. And fourth, I believe that this colt that has run only four times is peaking at the right time and I think Todd Pletcher knows it. So I picked Danza first, Wicked Strong second and California Chrome third. Good handicapping to all of you and please be sure and take time to enjoy this wonderful season of the year!

 

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Handicap Horses

Co-lead Author & Admin at Handicap Horse Racing
Mike Lane, Sr is co-lead author and administrator of HandicapHorseRacing.com. With over 38 years of experience and a degree in the "School of Hard Knocks" for handicapping, Mike has seen it all when it comes to thoroughbred racing and wants to help other horse players learn how to handicap and avoid the mistakes he has made in the past.

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