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Submitted by John Piesen on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 12:00 AM


DERBY DOINGS
By JOHN PIESEN
 
I’ve made a lot money for a lot of people picking Kentucky Derbys during a lifetime in
this business, and I have no doubt I’ll land another big fish this year.
 
That’s why I have to laugh when this week I see a guy brag on line that he’s
made fortunes betting the Derby. The writer of the piece doesn’t even reveal the
guy’s real name. He calls him El Toro, and tells us things like El Toro made
68K on superfectas the last six Derbys.
 
This may or may not be -- pardon the expression -- a lot of bull!
 
IMaybe he has, maybe he hasn’t.
 
I’m not going to waste my time (or yours) reviewing his record. Actually, there is
no record. Just a lot of numbers...and claims.
 
Alas, I don’t keep records either. I Just know that since I 1980, when I started going
public with my Derby selections -- first with the New York Post, then with the
Daily Racing Form, and, more recently, with my own phone service (888 512 2283),
I’ve had an incredible run of good luck with the Derby. And for sure my picks are made BEFORE the race.
 
Let’s see....
 
There was Genuine Risk, the Pleasant Colony/Woodchopper exacta, Gato Del Sol. Ferdinand, Alysheba, Sunday Silence, Unbridled, Strike the Gold, the Real Quiet/Victory Gallop exacta box, the Smarty Jones/Lion Heart cold exacta,  Big Brown (and the cold 3k trifecta, the Street
Sense super box, and the Animal Kingdom tri and exacta box.
 
There’s no magic involved with my Derby pix. I just look for the horses who look
to be peaking on the first Saturday of May, and proceed accordingly.
 
Well, there is the Pletcher angle.
 
I’ve used Pletcher only once.That was in 2010 when I picked Super Saver fourth
in the usual 20-horse field. Super Saver won, the Toddster’s only winner from 31 starters,
and since I had the second and third finishers in my exacta box, I managed to squeeze
out the exacta box. 
 
But I find that often when I’m wrong I’m right. Noble’s Promise, from trainer McPeek, was my top pick at 25-1 that day, and he was in front and going easy at the quarter-pole...only to
shut it down when Super Saver cut the corner -- Borel’s second of three Derby winners
in five years.
 
Moving forward, I made  my Derby move early in 2013. Pletcher was getting whatever ink
there was back in January and February, but I remember doing a piece on this
venue suggesting that ol’ Todd would NOT win the Derby.
 
Brave stuff indeed because, at the time, Todd’s armada included Shanghai Bobby, the
2-year-old champion and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner, and Violence, who led
most Derby Top Tens.
 
Gotta hand it to Todd.
 
Shanghai Bobby and Violence (how ironic) go down...but not to worry, Todd still
winds up with five and possilby six in the Derby, and they all have a shot. Four are fresh from
victory in a major stake, and the other two were 2-3 in the Blue Grass (givimg
me the 1K tri box on my website).
 
There are folks, big players and small, who can’t see beyond Pletch in the Derby.
The only question is in what order?
 
Good question.
 
I’ll have my answers up and running on-line and on the John Piesen Hot Line
(again 888 612 2283) next weekend.
 
At this point, before posts are drawn, who really knows? The Pletcher brigade
may indeed dominate. Then again, they could eliminate themselves in the
crazy-nuts first half-mile.
 
This is not a team sport. Bajarano won’t give a damn if he takes Johnny V or Calvin out of the
race.
 
Alright, say Pletch runs six. They would be Verrazano (Johnny V); Overanalyze
(Bejarano); Revolutionary (Borel); Palace Malice (Smith); Charming Kitten
and Winning Cause.
 
That’s two Hall of Fame riders, and two potential Hall of Fame riders. In the old
days of coupled entries, this sextet would be 3-5.
 
Toss in two from Lukas, and two from McPeek, and you have three guys running
half the field. Obviously that doesn’t make sense, but, then again, very little makes
sense about this Derby.
 
Moreover, Pletch will run the favorite (Dreaming of Julia) in the Oaks on Derby Eve.
 
Needless to say, if you’re going Oaks Day or Derby Day, beware of the
tightened security, and prepare for longer (than usual) lines in every direction.
Can’t knock the mint juleps. At least I can’t.
 
Here’s one possibe story line.
 
Back in 1995, D. Wayne won the Derby with Thunder Road, and the stewards,
after a Sunday review of backstretch developments, let the number stand. The runnerup in that race was Tejano Run, trained by a greenhorn named Ken McPeek.
 
That’s the same McPeek who, next Saturday, will run two major players in the
Derby -- Java’s War and Frac Daddy. Add D. Wayne’s two -- Oxbow and Will
Take Charge -- and,  yesireebob, that’s three guys with half the Derby.
 
Doesn’t quite seem fair.
 
Then there’s Rosie.
 
Rosie thought all along that she’d be riding the favorite (Shanghai Bobby) in the Roses.
Rosie in the roses. Bobby got hurt, but not to worry. Rosie lands on Mylute for trainer Amoss, and if there one guy overdue for a big 3-year-old, it’s Tom Amoss.
 
The story lines don’t end here.
 
There’s the Rudy Rodriguez factor.
 
Rudy had to survive an inquisition by the Kentucky Racimg Commission over
several drug-related issues in New York just to get Vyjack to the Derby. Rosario
couldn’t wait to jump to Orb, but Rudy’s got one helluva substitute in Gomez.
 
Folks can’t wait to join Rosario in jumping off Vyjack, but, you may recall that
this is the 10th anniversary of a Wood loser winning the Derby. See Funny Cide.
 
Then there is the O’Neill factor.
 
Doug last year won the Derby with Santa Anita Derby winner I’ll Have Another
from last to first. This time, Doug has Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents,
who might find himself nice and loose on the lead with his west coast speed.
 
On paper, there isn’t that much speed in the Derby...so, who knows?, we may
be looking at another Spend A Buck or War Emblem situation.
 
As mentioned here last week, the racing world’s biggest fear was that Departing
would win the Illinois Derby last weekend, and then win the Preakness, thus
eliminating any Triple Crown possibilities. He doesn’t qualify on points for the Derby.
 
As we know, Departing did win the Illinois Derby from here to Peoria...and will
be no worse than third choice in the Preakness.
 
And after all that racing and Claiborne have meant to each other. See Swale.
 
Whether we will have a horse going for the Triple Crown at Belmont or not,
Big Sandy will be the focus of the racing world this summer.
 
And the first highlight will come in race seven on Saturday. Scroll down to the nine horse,
a 4-year-old maiden named Jack’s R Wild. Note  the jockey: R G Davis.
 
Yes, that is the same Robbie Davis, a Top Five guy from the ’80s, starting a
comeback.
 
Robbie has been though hell and back, and remains one of racing’s
all-time good guys.
 
If you are at Belmont on Saturday, help give him the ovation he deserves.
 
Ironic that jockey Dominguez and trainer Dutrow, who dominated Belmont last year,
won’t be back. Ramon is making the long recovery from a fractured skull. Dick
is doing his 10-years. Rosario and Chad Brown are their likely successors.
 
Finally, our final Derby Top Ten:
 
HORSE                           TRAINER                            JOCKEY
 
Orb                               McGaughey                         Rosario
Verrazano                       Pletcher                             Velazquez
Revolutionary                  Pletcher                             Borel
Normany Invasion            Brown                                Castellano
Goldencents                   O’Neill                                 Krigger
Itsmyluckyday                 Plesa                                  Trujillo
Java’s War                      McPeek                               Leparoux
Overanalyze                    Pletcher                              Bejarano   
Palace Malice                   Pletcher                             Smith
Black Onyx                      Breen                                 Bravo
 
 
Thanks for checking in. Good luck this weekend, keep the Hot Line in sight,
and see you back here next Friday for a final Derby and Oaks preview.

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