Last year, I went out on a limb and predicted Animal Kingdom would win the 137th Kentucky Derby and he made me look like a genius. This year, I'm confident that undefeated Gemologist will barely prevail on Saturday and keep my winning streak alive.
Make no mistake, this is a very tough to handicap, especially due to the fact that the forecast indicates a 40% of rain starting late Friday morning. Also, anytime you have a field of 20 horses, anything can happen at any point in a race.
Gemologist is the pick. The Todd Pletcher and Javier Castellano connection is something that can't be ignored. I absolutely love the fact that this horse not only is familiar with the main track at Churchill Downs, but has won both starts. I also like the fact that Gemologist has a 421 Beyer rating for the off track and easily won his only start on a good surface, winning by seven lengths at Gulfstream Park.
The horse that seems poised to make my prediction wrong is Bodemeister, who is coming off a very impressive win in the Arkansas Derby on April 14th. Bob Baffert has this horse primed for another big performance and he seems capable of winning. I love the 59.3 work over the main track at Churchill Downs on April 29 and this horse has a 443 Beyer rating for the off track.
I'm going to being using both Gemologist and Bodemeister in my superfecta wagering, but I'm also going to use Creative Cause. I narrowly decided to use this deep closer, who was very game in his last start over I'll Have Another, who actually won that race. Creative Cause had a solid bullet work of 47.4 on April 30 and has a solid third place showing over the main track at Churchill Downs.
Those are my top three horses, with my gut telling me that Gemologist will win. Under those three, I'm going to use a handful of horses that I like but think will fall short.
I've been a huge fan of Union Rags and I think he might be the most talented horse in this race, but he's faltered in two of his last three races. I think Julien Leparoux will have to be much better aboard this horse than he was in the Florida Derby, where I felt he didn't move Union Rags soon enough. This horse had a solid bullet work on April 28 and has a win over a sloppy track. If Calvin Borel was on this horse, he would be my top pick.
I picked Dullahan to beat Hansen in the Grade One Blue Grass but I can't fully endorse this horse tomorrow. Despite the field being loaded with speed, I'm skeptical because he's winless in three starts at Churchill Downs and with a field of 20, he's going to have to pass a lot of horses to win. If the track comes up fast tomorrow, I like his chances a little more but his Beyer rating is a solid 367, so he might take to any moisture.
I just can't dismiss the 19, I'll Have Another. In 2012, this horse has completely matured and won the Santa Anita Derby in 1:47.4 on April 7th. My main fear is that the only poor race this horse has run, was in the slop at Saratoga, where he lost by almost twenty lengths. His stalking style makes his an ideal candidate for a stretch threat but the possibility of rain seems to negate his real chances.
This race is loaded with legitimate early speed. Normally, that's ideal for the deep closers, especially since this race is 10 furlongs. However, with such a big field, I don't see any horse coming from more than six lengths out winning. Union Rags will be in position to win but I don't see him prevailing. Gemologist is gritty and has improved his speed Beyer in every race.
Gemologist over Bodemeister by 1/2 a length in 2:01.4. Union Rags, Dullahan and Creative Cause will be in the group right behind them. This is the perfect betting race to invest $30 via a $.10 super.