Saturday’s Kentucky Derby saw some trends end and a new one continue. Always Dreaming broke Todd Pletcher out of a 1 for 45 stretch with a nice stalking effort and a solid victory. Lookin at Lee overcame the rail to finish second at 33-1.
Always Dreaming became the fifth straight betting favorite to win the race, a remarkable trend.
The other main contenders fell victim to the traffic carnage that is often part of the Derby.
The main horses we used in our trifectas all had serious issues. Of them, Classic Empire might have turned in the best effort to somehow finish fourth. Here are the chart comments for him from DRF:
CLASSIC EMPIRE bobbled soon after the break then was hammered off stride between rivals when forced down, regrouped to rate off the inside, picked up steam leaving the far turn, swung five wide for the drive, had his run briefly interrupted when bumped and carried out mid stretch,regrouped and churned on.
It was not much better for Gunnevera, who finished seventh, and McCracken, who finished eighth:
GUNNEVERA was jammed up at the break and bumped,regrouped to save ground early, angled back out nearing the backstretch, entered the far turn five wide, brushed with TAPWRIT past the five sixteenths, came sixwide for the drive, was floated out further in mid stretch then failed to seriously to sustain.
MCCRAKEN was jostled hard soon after the break, recovered and settled four wide, gained quickly when put to pressure leaving the half milemarker, continued on into the lane, was bumped and carried out in mid stretch then came up empty.
The end result was Always Dreaming caught a perfect trip and in reality was not challenged. All of the trouble was on the outside, which helped Lookin at Lee get a clean trip for second. And that’s the Derby; traffic woes can change a race dramatically.
That’s not to say Always Dreaming was not going to win if the others had not had so much trouble. He made his own luck by avoiding all of the collisions and ran a powerful race. It is to say that when the Preakness comes along, some of those might deserve another chance should they go to Pimlico. Always Dreaming will be a handful there regardless. And if he gets by that, his running style should be well suited to the Belmont.
But first things first.
As far as our plays went, we were all around it on the trifectas but did not hit. My mistake was not keying Lookin at Lee despite the post. My original ticket before the draw would have hit the $4,000 trifecta. But we backed off and went to Gunnevera instead. At the time it made sense but in retrospect that was the one big error.
(As an aside, some people asked why play ALL in the third spot. You got Battle of Midway at 40-1, which is exactly what you want when you punch that ticket).
The only saving grace was the $26.60 to place and $15.20 show we got on Lookin at Lee, which mitigated a lot of the other losses. He actually benefited from the rail draw as it turned out, because most of the trouble came from the outside horses and the roller derby that ensued.
But that’s the Derby; you have to be right and lucky. The luck part did not work out. So it is on to the Preakness, where we get it all back and then some.
As for Always Dreaming? He’s clearly very talented and has been a beast since stretching out around two turns. and the Preakness should hit him between the eyes. Some intriguing new shooters await — most notably Conquest Mo Money — and some of the troubled Derby horses will return as well, so it should be interesting.
Hopefully you enjoyed the race even if you came up short with me.
My recap today on ESPN Houston ...