Brian’s Derby Picks

We’ve finally come to the end of the line after three long months. The field for the 135th Kentucky Derby has been drawn and all that’s left is to spring the latch. I think we’ve covered the field from every standpoint possible so let’s take a look how the race might be run and then give out my selections. Good luck to everyone and enjoy a great day of racing. –Brian

What looked like an extremely soft pace just days ago now seems a bit on the swift side. The late additions of JOIN IN THE DANCE and ATOMIC RAIN should ensure honest splits and with REGAL RANSOM breaking in between those two, he should be up close and involved to some extent.

Behind that trio figures to be a bevy of horses, including several big names. With his inside draw, MUSKET MAN will be forced a bit early to keep his position so as not to get shuffled back, so look for him to be close to the leading trio. FRIESAN FIRE, PAPA CLEM and FLYING PRIVATE should be stalking the front runners, somewhere between 2 and 4 lengths behind. The rest of the stalkers should sort themselves out anywhere from 4 to 8 lengths behind the leaders, depending on how quick the early pace is. MINE THAT BIRD, GENERAL QUARTERS, I WANT REVENGE, PIONEEROF THE NILE, NOWHERE TO HIDE and DESERT PARTY all fall somewhere in this group.

The closers should be led by CHOCOLATE CANDY and DUNKIRK, who should be a few lengths ahead of those devoid of any speed; WEST SIDE BERNIE, MR. HOT STUFF, ADVICE, HOLD ME BACK and SUMMER BIRD.

To me this looks like a Derby that will be won on the far turn by a horse with some push-button acceleration. The two most likely candidates in my estimation are Friesan Fire and I Want Revenge. Both have the talent and tactical speed to be in the mix early, make a quick move on the turn, and then kick clear in the lane.

This is the area that I think a horse like Dunkirk might come up short. It took him forever to get into gear in the Florida Derby, and if that’s the case on Saturday, the leaders will just beat him to the punch and he might never recover. No doubt he’ll be rolling late, but I fear he might leave himself with too much to do.

As for a live longshot, I think Chocolate Candy has a huge chance. His run in the Santa Anita Derby was special, considering how stacked against it he was in terms of the race flow. With plenty of pace to run at on Saturday and a stretch to 10 furlongs, he represents to me the one horse that has a solid chance to upset the leading contingent.

When it’s all said and done I’ll go with Larry Jones to finish off a difficult 365 days and get his just due as the great trainer he is. It’s FRIESAN FIRE on top of Chocolate Candy, I Want Revenge and Dunkirk.

Good luck to everyone!

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