Stay away from the favorites

April 30, 2010

This is one of the most wide open races in recent Derby history. Very flattering early odds for Lookin At Lucky, considering he lost his last Derby prep, has just one race on real dirt, drew the inside post, and has limited experience outside of California. His closing style should help since this race is stacked with early speed and that should help offset the disadvantage of the inside post.

Sidney's Candy had a tough task already, being one of many early speed horse in the race, but things got worse when he drew the outside post. Big Brown did it from there, but Sidney's Candy does not appear to be as much of a freak as Big Brown. Tough to see him getting it done from so wide a start. His chances improve if he can rate, but there is little evidence he can do so. The computer placed Conveyance next, buoyed by his speed score, but his need to lead early could make him a pace casualty.

Late running horses should be the most pace advantaged. That group includes Ice Box, Dublin, Awesome Act, Stately Victor and Dean's Kitten. Of those, Ice Box and Stately Victor come in off the most impressive wins. Dublin has great classic breeding, being sired by Afleet Alex, but has underachieved as the favorite in two recent attempts. This distance should suit him but he will need to step up his game.

This race looks like a great opportunity to bet away from the favorites, since both have big obstacles to overcome. I recommend betting away from all the early running types and go for a closer. Look at Ice Box, Dublin and Stately Victor. For value, Dean's Kitten seems to have been snubbed by the oddsmaker. Even though he is a turf horse by breeding, he has won on dirt and his racing style is to close late. That will improve his chances further.

Liam Durbin's handicapping, aided by a computer model he wrote, appears in the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, among other publications. He is owner/handicapper of e-ponies.com

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