More Derby musings

The redoubtable Garwood B. Jones, best known for his Wolves-related commentary in this spot, has sent forth some lengthy, informative (and undoubtedly misguided) commentary on Saturday's race. Because it's difficult to post links in the comments section (and because he sucked up to me by making an informed comment about poor Frankie Hejduk), I'm posting it as a separate item. Keep those comments coming! Soon I will post my superfecta pick so that all can be sufficiently warned away from those poor, doomed beasts.

Garwood B. Jones

Glad to see Demko's enthusiasm for the ponies spilling onto the venerable pages of the Balls! Blog.

Last year I barely kept my streak of winning money betting on the Derby alive. All I cashed was a $5 place bet on Closing Argument, but that $175 more than paid for a lot of other terrible betting, drinking, and processed meat consumption.

Jack has set up the race nicely except that I think there will be two "crap horse(s)" who are "going to come in ... and destroy everybody's superfecta." I haven’t decided on the second yet but I can tell you that one of them will be Jazil (Jazz-ull).

Jazil drew the inside post and is going to get a ground saving trip along the rail. In the Wood, he gobbled up Keyed Entry down the stretch like he was standing still. He would have rolled past Bob and John in another 50-100 yards. He looked like he had plenty of run in him. Without a win to his name in 2005 (he's only won once lifetime) that 2nd place showing vaulted him up to 17th in earnings and got him into the field. Though he hasn't hit triple digits yet, his beyers are going in the right direction and he seems to be improving and holding his own against quality horses. Here's what his handlers had to say after the Wood.

Jara is going to have a lot more to do in the Derby than he did in the slop at Aquaduct but if the pace battle that everyone is predicting sets up, Jazil's going to be flying at the finish. He won't likely go off at more than 30-1 but there is a huge amount of value there anywhere from 20-1 on up. He's trained by the same guy that trained Closing Argument last year, he's the only legitimate deep closer in a race that figures to set up for deep closers, and damn, if he doesn't looks great.

--- Now, I'm a value better, so I'm always looking for angles to "throw out" the chalk. I guess I'm inclined to believe that Lawyer Ron in the 17th position is dismissable at 4-1. The Arkansas Derby wasn't that great a field and he's raced 14 times. He’s got good tactical speed so he could avoid the crush to front but when was the last time a horse with 14 previous starts won the Derby?

I'm similarly going to pass on the California shippers. Brother Derek was impressive in the SA Derby but for much the same reasons as noted above by Andy, I'm leaving Derek, AP Warrior, and Point Determined out (though Brother Derek might find his way onto the bottom of my favorite exotic, the $1 partial tri-key).

I don't think you can leave Barbaro out of anything and in my book he's the most likely winner. His Florida Derby win is particularly impressive given that he started in the 10 hole at a track and distance that punishes outside posts (mile and one eighth races start super close to the first turn). He was bumped at the start, had to expend a lot of energy to get the lead, and still managed to drive to victory down the stretch. He probably ran an extra 50-60 yards more than Sharp Humor who had the rail and still won by a length and a half. He is fast, he's bred for distance, and he hasn't lost yet.

I also like what's happening with Sweetnorthernsaint (10-1) and Sinister Minister (12-1). Both are coming off huge G1 wins in The Illinois Derby and the Blue Grass respectively. Both have beyers going in the right direction and appear to be in the right part of their cycle. Sinister Minister’s 116 in the Blue Grass is the best beyer in the field. Now, the last horse to win the Derby after winning the Blue Grass was Strike the Gold way back in 1991, and Sinister Minister was a 9-1 shot in the Blue Grass when he just ran away from everyone. I wouldn't be chucking win bets on him if he goes off at less than 10-1 but he’s going to be in the lead, and that gives him a chance to hang in for a piece. Sweetnorthernsaint looks good, he's got 5 rising beyers, he burned it up in the morning, and has Desormeaux as a mount. Kent is a pretty good jockey, but evidently not an early morning guy.

I think, depending on which way the lines move, my final exotic fillers will be Bluegrass Cat (30-1) and Sharp Humor (20-1). Remember that Bluegrass Cat went off as better than a 2-1 favorite in the Blue Grass. While there’s plenty of things not to like about his recent record (he finished 20 lengths behind the Minister in his last race), the race sets up for him if he fires. That's a big "if" based on his last two, and a switch to journeyman mount Ramon Dimenguez is not promising, but someone’s got to be coming from behind and it might as well be him. Sharp Humor is really the enigma of the field for me. I don't know where he'll run or where he'll fit but I think he's got tactical speed and he's gritty (read the comments from his previous races and note use of the word "gamely"). His trainer said that he was "on the muscle" which didn’t mean much to me but followed it up by saying, "He is training about as well as any horse that I have brought into a race."

Well… There's 6 horses out of 20 to focus on. Bet 'em as you see fit and if you cash one on Jazil, I'll be somewhere on the ground floor with the plebes, looking for congratulatory Budweisers.

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