Two and a half months away, and I’m supposed to know who wins the Kentucky Derby? Talk about a sucker bet. So did I fall for it? You betcha. At least I’m not one of those chumps who wasted good money on the mutual field (“other”) which, if hit, will pay a whopping...9-5. Who did I place my lottery money on? Limited to two $2 bets, I put my money where my heart is—Friesan Fire (18-1) and Taqarub (46-1).
Funny how these early picks pan out. Last January I highlighted four colts on my Derby watch list: Turf War, Tale of Ekati, Court Vision, and Elysium Fields. The middle two have enjoyed some degree of success, but Turf War is officially a total bust—in five races since his G3 Delta Jackpot victory (via deadheat with Z Humor) he’s finished in the very back every time and never closer than 8-1/2 lengths. Injured in the G1 Florida Derby, Elysium Fields finally makes his return in an allowance race on Thursday at Santa Anita—with Rafael Bejarano up for new trainer Neil Drysdale, I’m hoping this once-promising stayer can move forward and become a force in the oh-so-depleted older horse category.
Song of Navarone went into my Virtual Stable in March 2007 when, coming in off a third-place finish behind Ravel and Liquidity in the G3 Sham Stakes, he won the WinStar Derby at Sunland. Missing the Kentucky Derby cut, his next appearance was to be the G3 West Virginia Derby, but he scratched due to the onset of a near-fatal intestinal virus. He returned last year, after nearly 16 months off, and won the Zia Park Distance Championship. On Sunday he won his hometrack's $50k Curribot Handicap in new track record time (1:41.91), raising his earnings to $563,158 in winning seven of 10 starts (and only one out-of-the-money result).
Sunland is not a track I play with any regularity—I think I’ve bet on races there maybe four times. The most recent was last Friday, when I placed a $2 win bet on Miriam’s Star in race 10 (6-1/2f AlwNW1X)...just something about her form line sucked me in, and she didn’t disappoint. Leading from the start, she was passed in the stretch, but impressively fought back to win with authority ($9.60). Gutsy performance, and into my Virtual Stable she went.