Here we are a couple of days away and I found I am having a harder time than normal locking onto a horse. Basically I have been bouncing around in my head, on paper, and even on the computer. I was sure I was going to back Orb after an impressive G1 Florida Derby when it appeared he was pulling away. Then I changed to Verrazano but began debating the inexperience and large field he will face. From there I bounced to Revolutionary who has never missed the board and added Borel for the Run for the Roses.I have even spent time in the camps of Overanalyze, Lines of Battle and Java’s War. I just could not decide.
Then I sat back for a little while and threw out the PPs, workout times, and breeding pedigrees. I wanted to just watch some races again and see who passes my smell test. I wrote down what I liked and marked off the ones that did not impress for one reason or another. When I looked down at the sheet at the end of my video marathon I had three contenders out of a 20 horse field for the Kentucky Derby. Who were the three? I just liked what I saw with Goldencents, Orb and Normandy Invasion. But what was so special to set them apart?
While racing out west Goldencents has been nothing short of impressive if you can excuse the San Felipe when he never seemed to settle and wanted the lead. He dueled all the way but seemed to learn from that experience as evident in the Santa Anita Derby. In the SA Derby he won going away and appeared to have more horse left in the tank still posted a 105 Beyer.
Orb has been incredible his last four starts winning four in a row including the Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby. In those races he posted back to back Beyers of 97. However, to the eye, watching the Florida Derby I saw an easy first quarter mile which should have set up for Itsmyluckyday but coming out of the far turn I watched Orb just find a gear the others did not have. He exploded and cruised by to an almost three length victory. To me explosions like that are what a Derby winners are made of.
Normandy Invasion? Yes that right. I know you have to go back to November of last year to find a win under his belt. I know he missed in the Remsen, Risen Star and Wood memorial. In the Remsen there was not much of a pace to speak of yet he closed from seven lengths off to lose by a nose. But what I saw in the Wood Memorial under new jockey Castellano was a horse that flat out belongs. He was bumped at the break, shook it off and settled biding his time. While you could argue that Verrazano was not flat out at the end, Normandy Invasion unleashed an impressive closing kick to finish second behind the unbeaten. Consider that the Kentucky Derby will be his third off a layoff, that there is no real speed around him in the gate on Derby day, he has experienced a rough trip already and was always entered in larger fields he has a real shot this Saturday. You will also probably get a pretty good price on him.
So without further adieu I have decided to back Normandy Invasion. I am playing on my normal $60 for the Derby. But how to spend it and maximize what I believe will be a better paying race than most are predicting. It comes in the form of a Win bet, an Exacta bet and a Trifecta to boot.
I will walk to the gate and play the following:
$8 to win on Normandy Invasion ($8)
$1 Exacta box consisting of Normandy Invasion, Orb, Goldencents, and Palace Malice ($12)
$1 Trifecta with Normandy Invasion on top with Orb, Goldencents, Palace Malice, Revolutionary and Java’s War. ($20)
$1 Trfiecta with Orb, Goldencents, Palace Malice, Revolutionary and Java’s War on top with Normandy Invasion with Orb, Goldencents, Palace Malice, Revolutionary and Java’s War. ($20)
That’s my $60 budget. Now of course if Oaks day goes well I might be spreading a bit wider and here is hoping that is the case.