Vaught's Views

Who will win? Derby has lot of storylines

April 30, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Picking a Kentucky Derby winner is a lot harder than projecting which team will win the NCAA Tournament.

Never mind that the Derby has just 20 entries compared to 65 in the NCAA Tournament. Or that the Derby winner just has to win one race, not six games like the NCAA champion.

No, the Derby has so many variables - track conditions, post positions, jockeys' decisions, racing luck, etc. - that deciding who will win, especially when there is no standout horse like this year, is almost impossible.

That's why I'm depending on expert help in today's column. My cousin, David White of Graefenburg, went to his first Derby 30 years ago when unknown Cannonade got the early lead and kept it.


That was enough to hook him and each year he puts out his own Derby analysis. Considering how poorly my Derby insights seem to be, I decided to share his instead. His insights, in order of post position, follow:

* Limehouse: Jockey Jose Santos is going for a second straight Derby win. Honest colt that has won five of nine starts, but will be stretching too far at 10 furlongs (1 1/4 miles).

* Song of the Sword: This horse's initials say "SOS," which may be appropriate after a mile on Saturday.

* Lion Heart: He should be able to dictate pace from the rail and will be very hard to pass in the stretch. Jockey Mike Smith deserves a Derby winner.

* Action this Day: Last year's 2-year-old champ has been a bit of a dud. Lost last two races by 23 lengths. Rumors of a sore back lead me away from him.

* Wimbledon: Looked good winning the Louisiana Derby, but terrible in the Santa Anita Debry. Jockey Jerry Bailey was ready to jump to Eddington if the colt had made the field. Expecting a double fault Saturday.

* Friend's Lake: Well-bred colt but has not run since his surprise win in the Florida Derby. Long layoffs have not typically paid off in the Derby.

* Minister Eric: Minister gets well-known Christian jockey Pat Day. Drew post position 7, but God rested on the seventh day and he'll need a rest after a less than heavenly effort.

* Master David: Should improve after a gutsy performance in the Wood Memorial. Bobby Frankel has been a top trainer in the country the last several years and it's time to add a Derby win to his resume.

* St. Averil: Will be running in his first race outside of California and threw a clunker in the Santa Anita Derby.

* Imperialism: His 21-year-old female trainer (Kristin Mulhall) has been a media darling. The colt will be making his 16th start Saturday and the well may be dry come deep stretch.

* The Cliff's Edge: Overcame post position 11 and overcame two of Tampa Downs' narrow, tight turns to get second. That's a bigger race than it looks. He has already won twice at Churchill Downs and won the Bluegrass Stakes. He could be there at the finish.

* Borrego: Three straight second-place finishes at three different tracks. Not the best looking horse, but runs hard.

* Birdstone: Looked good early in the year, but lousy in last prep at Turfway Park. May lay another egg on Derby Day.

* Read the Footnotes: Ran out of gas in the stretch of the Florida Derby. Coming in off a long layoff. Bailey turned down the mount.

* Smarty Jones: Great stories about the horse and his connections. Ran a big race in New York to win the Count Fleet Stakes after he broke badly from the outside post, raced wide and still won by five lengths.

* Castledale: Surprise winner in Santa Anita Derby after racing seven times in two months in Ireland before coming to United States in November.

* Pollard's Vision: Capable colt, but pedigree doesn't scream distance and he adds 12 pounds from his last race.

* Tapit: Looked good in winning the Wood Memorial but that was only his fourth race. Could close for a piece of the Derby pie.

* Pro Prado: Starts wide, stays wide and will need a wide angle lens to see where he finishes.

* Quiton's Gold Rush: Another mount Bailey turned down. Will have to use his speed up early. Should be rushing to the rear at the finish.

His three top picks are Master David, The Cliff's Edge and Smarty Jones with Lion Heart and Borrego considered possibilities.

Myself, give me Imperialism over Smarty Jones. Who else could I pick? I love those storylines and based on my past performances, why not go with storylines over logic.

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