On May 5th, 2007 they will gather under the twin spires at Churchill Downs in Louisville Kentucky for the 133rd Run for the Roses—the greatest two minutes in sports.
When the field turns for home and the crowd hits fever pitch, there's nothing like it. I've been there twice, in 2000 and 2001. This year, I will be there in sprit.
Here are some tips on picking a winner:
- Since 1957, every Derby winner has finished fourth or better in his last start before the Derby, so make recent history a primary factor. Also, look for a colt that has hit the 100 mark in speed figures.
- Take post position into account: look for a middle post or one on the outside. The ones on the inside get all the crowding, and they stand in the gate the longest waiting for the start. It's not a coincidence that posts one through four have gone 1-80 in the past twenty years.
As for this year's field, let's take a look:
Curlin – Unbeaten. Won the Arkansas Derby. Has been impressive in every start. The new owners paid $3.5 million to get in on the ownership. Training great at Churchill Downs. Seems to like the track. Best speed rating 102. Looks good to me.
Street Sense – This colt likes the Downs. Won the Breeders Cup Juvenile on the strip by ten lengths. Had a great workout on April 24th. Comes to run all the time. Best speed rating 105.
Hard Spun – Only beaten once. Like Curlin, has won all his other races easily. Has run well over Churchill. Has speed to be a pace factor. Has a shot at winning. Best speed rating 106.
Scat Daddy – Won the Champagne Stakes last fall. Won Florida Derby this season. He has shown weariness when running two turns. Has Edgar Pardo in the saddle. Comes to run every time. Best speed rating 101.
Great Hunter – Had a world of trouble in the Blue Grass Stakes, where he was bounced in the stretch. Will probably run an improved race in the Derby. Best speed rating 100.
Nobiz Like Shobiz – Put it all together in the Wood Memorial Stakes in his last race, with the help of blinkers an ear plugs. Has run some great races. But the crowd on Derby day could be his undoing. Still a little immature. Best speed rating 103.
Circular Quay – Won the Louisiana Derby in his last race. Had trouble in Raisen Star Stakes race before. Has not run in eight-weeks. Will be moving in the stretch, but might have to get by nineteen other colts. Best speed rating 105.
Any Given Saturday – Finished third in the Wood Memorial in his last race. Comes to run every time, could land a share of the purse. Best speed rating 105.
I'm betting CURLIN to win. Then I'm putting him on top and for second in the exactas. The triple I'm playing is CURLIN, STREET SENSE and HARD SPUN.
My selections were made before the final entries were taken.
Good luck to all the horses and riders. See you at the windows.
Jerome Keel works part-time as a mutual clerk for the New York Racing Association at Belmont. He has been writing tip-sheets for in-house consumption for several years. Last year, he correctly predicted the exacta in the Kentucky Derby and the triple in the Belmont Stakes.