Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports - NOVA this week (May 7, 2016)

Observations from my weekly wanderings, usually in Northern Virginia (NOVA).

I’ve been a fan of thoroughbred horse racing ever since the Summer of 73 when I watched the Great Secretariat win the Triple Crown.

I know this subject will be of little interest to most bookish readers, but keep reading, there’s something here for the logophile.

Later today will be the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby, the Run for the Roses, the First Saturday in May – the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. A bit later, I’ll tell you who’s going to win and why.

But first, that promised bit that might interest bookish sorts who may at least have an appreciation of the lyrical, poetic, or fanciful names of the horses such as Northern Dancer, Distorted Humor, Winning Colors, and Spectacular Bid. I don’t find any of the names this year particularly poetic, but a couple of the runners are descended from champions with great names. My long shot pick, Lani, is the grandson of Sunday Silence (best name ever) and Shagaf, who has little chance to win, is the grandson of Unbridled’s Song.

And a bonus for the logophiles, did you know the horses are not horses – they’re colts. In a very general sense, a horse is not a horse, until maturity, or four years old and up. The Kentucky Derby is limited to three-year olds, which are either colts or geldings (male) or fillies (female). Fillies occasionally run in the Kentucky Derby, though only Winning Colors, Genuine Risk, and Regret have won. However, this year’s field is entirely colts and geldings. Mature horses are more specifically referred to as stallions (males) and mares (females).

A disclaimer before my picks: The Kentucky Derby is one of the hardest races in the world to handicap. Why? A lot of reasons, but the main one is the HUGE field. Most thoroughbred races have 8-10 runners, a few rare races have 12-14. The Kentucky Derby is a 20 horse stampede, and the best horse can get caught in traffic, which may cost him the race. I’m a pretty good handicapper, but I throw this disclaimer out there in case I’m way off.

My picks – Top Three – In order: Exaggerator, Nyquist, and Lani.

I like Exaggerator over the probable favorite Nyquist even though Nyquist previously beat Exaggerator. Exaggerator has had more consistent speed in his last five races; and I just feel he will have a good race today – in handicapping terms – I feel he’s “sitting on a big race". His jockey. Kent Desormeaux, is one of my favorites. He is a hall of fame jockey who has won the Kentucky Derby three times. He had a fall from grace a few years ago with some personal drama, but seems to rebounding. Gotta love a comeback. The trainer, Keith Desormeaux is Kent’s brother but this is his first trip to the Derby. Gotta love a Cinderella story.

Undefeated Nyquist will probably be the odds-on favorite, but my second choice. I like Nyquist because he is undefeated of course, plus I picked him in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile and Florida Derby. Finally, he is named for a player on the Detroit Red Wings (my NHL team). I’m ambivalent about the jockey and trainer.

Lani is a longshot, but I like his chances, and I like the odds he’ll get even better. I already mentioned one thing I like, his bloodline – grandson of Sunday Silence the Winner of the 1989 Kentucky Derby, and Preakness. Sunday Silence lost the Belmont Stakes, and hence the Triple Crown to his arch-rival, Easy Goer. Back to Lani, none of the colts today have ever run 1 ¼ miles before, but Lani has come closer than any, in winning the 1 3/16 UAE Derby. He has also run in traffic, with 2 races of a field of 16, one of 15 and one of 14 – so Lani has better experience at the distance and with the large field. This horse is based in Japan though, and the trainer and jockey are unknown to me.

I also think Gun Runner and Creator will be in the mix, but I am not a fan of their trainer, and indifferent to their jockeys.

So there you have it. 11-13-8 exacta box – can’t lose.

And for a bit of extreme ridiculousness, the full finish order: 11-13-8-5-3-9-17-16-6-14-19-15-20-18-7-1-2-4-12-10

One more thing for the logophiles. Something I wrote once about Kentucky Derby day, and the greatest racehorse ever.  Ghosts of Derbies Past

1 comment:

  1. Good write-up of the field Joseph. Especially liked the details about Lani; those races in large fields could serve him well and certainly will do no harm. As always, my first wish is for a safe race. My picks in order are Nyquist, Exaggerator and Mor Spirit. No strong emotional connection so far this year but I hope that will change.


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