Overthinking the Derby 2021

It’s the First Saturday in May and a Beautiful Day for the 147th Run for the Roses in the 12th race at Churchill Downs. Unless there are changes this morning, there will be 19 horses running in the Kentucky Derby this year. How do we pick a winner??

As Paul Simon wrote: “The problem is all inside your head, she said to me. The answer is easy if you take it logically…” there must be 50 ways to bet the Derby…

Logic–Ha! You can bet by choosing your favorite horse name, jockey, owner, trainer, silk colors, horse color… You can pick by pace, speed, past performances, or take a tip from one of the many “professionals”.

You could choose by the Odds, but I’m ranting about those… In fact, I’m put out that there are so many horses in this race at all, something I moan about every year. This year really underscores my complaint: Of the 19 horses running, Nine have odds greater than 40-1, Three have odds greater than 30-1, and 4 have odds greater than 10-1. That leaves you with Three — just 3 — horses and one of those, Essential Quality, has a morning line of 6-5 (that ain’t no odds at all).

Essential Quality, a beautiful gray horse who is unbeaten in his Five starts during the Prep Races, does look like a Super Horse. Sired by Tapit and out of Delightful Quality, he is bred and owned by Godolphin, trained by Brad Cox and jockey Luis Saez sits aboard. He’s in the #14 post position and certainly appears to be sure bet– but nothing is sure in this race despite those odds.

The other two horses with odds below 10-1 are Hot Rod Charlie and Rock Your World. I latched on to Hot Rod because of his name, reminding me of my cousin-in-law, Charlie Pierson. Who wouldn’t bet a horse named after him, and with odds 7-1? Rock your World is fast and will set the pace, but can he go the distance? I dunno, because he doesn’t have a whole lot of experience.

The four horses with odds between 10 and 20 to 1 are more my style: Known Agenda, Medina Spirit, Midnight Bourbon, and Highly Motivated. I’m angsting over All of them. As a true over-thinker, I’ve followed the Derby Prep Races which started in January. Points are assigned to each win, place, or show of those races and these four have shown themselves to be strong contenders.

Of the also-rans, only Soup and Sandwich appeals to me. He is a light gray with Spunk and I love his name.

I place my bets online with Twin Spires and they sent me a $10-money-back offer. If I make a $10 Win bet and that horse comes in second or third, I will get my money back; that sort of makes up for the short odds on Essential Quality, so I’ll wager $10 that he will win.

Medina Spirit, a Baffert horse, is a sure bet for me across the board, as is the afore-mentioned Hot Rod Charlie. For my show and combo bets, it’s between Known Agenda, Midnight Bourbon, Highly Motivated, and Soup and Sandwich.

The odds are changing even as we speak. I’m still befuddled and bewildered, so I’ll turn to my Ace in the Hole: Let the grandies pick…

Good Luck!

It’s Derby Week-end…

I haven’t always been such a horse-race fiend, but I have watched the Kentucky Derby for all of my adult life.  I didn’t even know you could make a bet outside of Churchill Downs, but we would watch on TV,  pick a horse and get bragging rights if he won.  Before Betting the Derby, I seemed to be able to pick winners with a fair consistency, but now that I use real money to wager the race, I over-think and self-doubt, rarely cashing a ticket.  One year, I bet nearly the whole field to show—this does not pay off, folks.  Maybe the mint Juleps had something to do with it…

Even though it’s been run as long as the Derby, I didn’t “discover” the Oaks until a few years back.  The Kentucky Oaks parallels the Derby, running the 3-year-old thoroughbred fillies the day before the fellas.  Of course, there’s not quite as much money on the ladies, so occasionally a trainer decides to run a filly with the boys, but the Oaks is all girls…  I have done pretty well betting this race, but I am now beginning to analyze it to smithereens…

Of course, that’s what most would call handicapping. I’ve been to several helpful websites that teach about that art, and it seems to me that they compile even more data than I do:  past performances, lengths of race, turf vs track, on and on and on,  until I’m baffled and bewildered.

It was a natural segue from those sites to examine the “how to bet” tutorials that show you, quickly and easily, how to bet $100–and win–on  superfectas and  trifectas, rendering me stuperfected!!!   I am seriously confounded and confused…I think it has something to do with math??….

stevemartin

Simplify!!  I’ll take the advice of Mom’s old friend, Jean, and put my money on the gray horse…(that would be Ocho Ocho Ocho at 50-1 or Frosted at 15-1 or Mr. Z at 50-1–no help there).   I could use Donna and Lana’s old method and pick the best-looking jockey (that, in my humble op, would be Miguel Mena, riding International Star at 20-1).   No, it’s all about the odds—I’ll pick any horse that has over 10-1 odds (currently 17 horses)…or pick the favorite (Dortmund*** at 3-1)  .No, the favorite never wins…   Calvin is riding El Kabeir (30-1) from the #7 gate, right next to Dortmund in #8;  if I know him, he might catch the jetstream and win his fourth Derby.  But  Gary Stevens is the oldest jockey riding Derby 141, on Firing Line (12-1), and this would also be his fourth win, so maybe I should bet the old guy. There’s a good-looking horse named Danzig Moon (30-1), so maybe the Moon reference (my daughter’s nickname) will lead me to the winning ticket.   It’s a gamble, anyway you figure it…  ***favorite as of this morning is American Pharoah at 5-2.

My technique for picking a winner in the Oaks is going to be:  buy a program, open it to the list of contenders,  close my eyes, and point…  That will probably work…

Oh, well, here’s a sure bet:  we’ll all have a good time…

derby

I’ll let you know how it goes…