Rubber Meets The Road

illustration by Ralph Steadman

illustration by Ralph Steadman

“….we were both half-crazy from too much whiskey, sun fatigue, culture shock, lack of sleep and general dissolution.” – Hunter S. Thompson

We are firmly in deep stretch of the 2016 Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest. There is nothing like Derby week.  The Kentucky Derby hopefuls are making their final preparations at Churchill Downs, but we still had contest action at Gulfstream Park last Saturday.  With no double point bonus race, the maximum score last week was only 1,907, so something in the 1,200 point range should contend for top honors.  There were two horses that were separators last week, Marshall Eddy (408 points) and Key the Storm (548 points).  Key the Storm was a the top point horse of the week, but still a heart breaker if you used him as he led every step of the way and got beat a nose in the final jump.  I was in the 300-point range once again, as this year’s contest has been more bitter than sweet for me.

So now it’s Kentucky Derby week.  The previous two contest weeks didn’t result in much movement in the overall standings, but Kentucky Derby day has the potential to be extremely volatile as the Derby winner could be worth over 3,000 contest points.  There are plenty of longshots to choose from, but here are a few random thoughts on this year’s Derby:

Nyquist:  The Derby favorite, and the horse the wise guys have been unsuccessfully trying to beat since last fall.  He is one of the most accomplished, yet least respected Kentucky Derby favorites I can remember.  Those who have been playing against him will certainly try to beat him again, but with a moderate pace projected for this year’s Derby he figures to work a very nice trip near the lead.  My biggest concern with him is that he may regress off his Florida Derby win, where I believe he was fully cranked to win the $1 million dollar bonus he was eligible for in that race.  His detractors say he won’t get the Derby distance, but this crop hasn’t been as fast as other years, and he has run his race every single time.  I put his fair odds around 4-1, and I believe he is a must-use horse, at least defensively, in horizontals.

Danzing Candy is a horse that interests me quite a bit.  He was quite good in his front-running victories in California prior to his Santa Anita Derby debacle.  I’m willing to excuse that race as a combination of the off-track and the fact that he had a pre-race meltdown in the starting gate.  Whatever the reason for his Santa Anita Derby race, he reminds me of Palace Malice in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, where he ran off on the lead over a sloppy track and was well beaten.  Palace Malice came back to win the Belmont Stakes as a 15-1 longshot.  Danzing Candy should be a playable price with a favorable pace scenario and with Mike Smith aboard I’m willing to gamble on him as my Derby longshot.

The contest begins at 9:30 a.m. Half the battle is showing up on time!

Enjoy the mint juleps and the Kentucky Derby at Canterbury Park!

Farewell and Good Luck to Angela Hermann

When opportunity knocks, some just look through the peephole while others throw the door wide open.  Angela was offered the job of calling the races at Golden Gate Fields in the San Francisco Bay area for the remainder of their meet, beginning Thursday.

She will be missed at Canterbury for certain. Read more on Midwest Paddock Report.

No rumors yet regarding her replacement at Canterbury but with the meet just two weeks away something should break soon. Stay tuned…..

The Oracle

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