2014 Derby Dozen 5

Welcome to Kentucky Derby Week.  The list below is made before the draw, and a final round of Kentucky Derby Picks and Ponderings will be made after the draw.

These polls are done five times before the Derby, done every three weeks, and each time there’s been a different number one.  WICKED STRONG, step up to the plate as the fifth and final number one.  Maybe I got it right this time.  Or maybe, because he won the Wood Memorial, I slapped him with a hex.   That #curseofthewood can be nasty juju.

Again, I’m avoiding that horse from Cali-what’s that place called? and looking instead at the contenders (which there are few of in these eyes) and pretenders (of which there are many).  Read between the lines and you’ll see who is liked and disliked in the eyes of “Picks and Ponderings”.

You can also catch me on “Chicagoland Sports Radio” on Monday April 28th from 2:15 pm to 2:30 pm CT where I’ll further discuss the Kentucky Derby. You can listen live on the site and I’ll put an archive of that interview up on this page when available.

Update, April 28: Chicagoland Sports Radio interview is here.

Finally, a shout-out to WirePlayers for holding it and inviting me (and my twisted sense of humor) on the panel.  It’s been fun.


The Author is pleased for the third straight year to be a member of the “Derby Dozen” panel for WirePlayers.  Each member of the panel chooses and then ranks twelve of the best Kentucky Derby Contenders.  In addition, there are comments from members of the panel.  The list is taken fairly seriously; the comments however are more snarky than serious.   This year, in addition, horses 1-10 will represent my  ballot in the NTRA Media poll, when said poll commences.   NTRA poll results will be available from that site and tweeted on Mondays/Tuesdays, two days after the list below, if possible.  As this list is published before the final list is published including all the panelists, a link to the final ballot will be provided once it is available, usually the Wednesday or Thursday after this poll is submitted, four or five days after.)

Update, May 1: Final Derby Dozen ballot is here and also placed with the Kentucky Derby preview.

Okay, enough disclaimers and jibber jabber.   Without further ado, here’s the Derby Dozen. (Week ending April 27.)

1. WICKED STRONG            I liked his Wood better than that front-running prep race on the other coast. And the pedigree is better, too.

2. CALIFORNIA CHROME            He can run but he can’t hide from his pedigree limitations.

3. RIDE ON CURLIN            Was taking back to mid-pack and making one run the clue to unlocking forward progress?

4. HOPPERTUNITY                Sandbagged the Santa Anita Derby after getting in via a Rebel win, but no starts at two is a sticky problem.

5. WE MISS ARTIE                Forgotten among April preps and buzz horses is a horse with a turfy pedigree and a nine-furlong win over the NoKY synthetic.

6. INTENSE HOLIDAY            Fumbled in the Louisiana Derby, but will likely get tackled in the Kentucky Derby.

7. CHITU                    His final placement in the Derby will be more than the numbers of letters in his name.

8. DANCE WITH FATE            A roaring round of applause for the latest irrelevant Blue Grass winner!

9. MEDAL COUNT                Media, meet buzz horse working a terror in the morning.  Buzz horse working well, meet media.

10. DANZA                    In keeping with Tony Danza’s acting career, some Italian rider named Tony or Anthony will climb aboard.

11. VICAR’S IN TROUBLE        More like Vicar’s In Trouble in the Derby.

12. SAMRAAT                I needed bodies.  I’m tired of these three-year-olds.

Got any good contenders? Don’t see your favorite?  State your case, drop a comment, and let me know.


Whether you’re heading to the track or the not, you can take “Picks and Ponderings” with you anytime, anywhere. You can get Twitter updates @heylaserbeam for on-the-scene reports on major racedays at Hawthorne Race Course and Arlington International Racecourse. And you can get “Picks and Ponderings” in your e-mail by typing your email address in the box and clicking “Create Subscription.” It’s a FREE service, and you’ll never get any unwanted spam.


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  • Paul:
    Have concluded I bet Candy Boy one race too soon at Santa Anita. Can he make up 9 lengths on C. Chrome? I know C. Chrome's pedigree is modest, but back a generation or two are some stamina markers. His turn of foot is best of those in here. Just hoping Candy Boy's work means he takes to CD. Stevens always high on him and he is not given to hyperbole. Hope SA Derby was meant to be prep in largest sense and these factors give him a chance.Otherwise its Chrome's, but I have an ex. and with Dance with fate a tri.

  • Ray R.,

    Candy Boy is a horse I will be looking, at this moment, not to use. The dam of Candy Boy needed a tow truck to get nine furlongs in the Black Eyed Susan, and Candy Ride progeny - like Rock Hard Ten/Mineshaft progeny - seem to struggle at beyond nine panels unlike the sires.


  • In reply to Paul Mazur:

    I reviewed C Boy's pedigree on CD's site. I see what you are saying. Also watched the San Felipe. Confirmed my impression when saw him live, Chrome has such a high cruising speed and turn of foot, If he has no traffic issue or gate problem, it will be his. I will still play your tri., Also watched Dance with Fate's dirt race as a 2 yr old, I thought he did very good. Being a Dynaformer (favorite sire) maybe I should stick with him (had him in BG) instead of C Boy. Chrome will take some beating though.

  • In reply to RayR:


    As I said in the radio appearance on "Chicagoland Sports Radio" (see link above the 1 thru 12 list), the amount of casual money on the Derby makes California Chrome somewhere between 2.70-1 and 3.30-1. I don't want any part of him at 3-1 and my goal on Saturday is to knock him off the tickets.

    I haven't composed a final list of picks yet - they go live Thursday. I too want to see posts.

  • i've got to say yes, taking Ride On Curlin back and making one run should be good for his forward progress. i've been clamoring and clamoring for a Champagne-style run all winter/spring, and was glad to see him finally come from off the pace in the Arkansas Derby. i'm nervous as all-get-out given how many preps he ran from up front, but hoping he does that again Kentucky given the oodles and oodles of early speed in that race.

  • In reply to rogueclown:


    As I said on the "Down to the Wire" video cast, there won't ever be a turf-like pace in the Kentucky Derby where the half-mile clock time is around :51. There will always be some pace in the Derby, whether from A) horses who naturally like to be close to the lead, B) horses who go to the front out of a change in strategy (think your crush horse, Palace Malice, last year) and/or those that are rattled by the six-figure crowd or, C) over-eager connections (It's the Derby! It's a long race! Get to the front so they call our name on NBC!).

    The comparison I make on Ride On Curlin is to Super Saver in the 2010 Arkansas Derby (replay exists on Youtube), of a horse using a prep race as exactly that, to either impart strategy or to fight a bigger war down the road. Both were forward types who learned to take back and found better form with new pace tactics. I can see your nerve, but I too hope he takes back because he likely won't win this race going gate-to-wire.

  • Do you still like We Miss Artie as a longshot...I read earlier in the week that he did not look good in training and trainer was trying to convince owner to drop him from the derby.

  • In reply to evenmoney:


    Check back in this space Thursday afternoon when a full breakdown of all twenty is given. =)

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