I know I said I wasn't going to play the Derby future pool this year, but now I might. Don't tell my wife.
The first New York prep for the Derby happens this weekend at Aqueduct: the $65,000 Whirlaway for 3 year-olds at one-and-one-sixteenth miles. Lawrence the Roman looks extremely hard to beat here; he's going to open at 6-5, and his odds will certainly get even stingier at post time. It's only a six horse field, and the competition doesn't look that scary: Summer Doldrums fell flat in his one stakes attempt. Sports Town is really a sprinter. Pink Viper beat Johannesburg Star in the Count Fleet, but he also took six tries to break his maiden. Plus Edgar Prado is going to fly up from sunny Florida to ride Lawrence on the frozen inner track at Aqueduct, which to me is a ringing endorsement.
I'm not going to spend dollars to make nickels in the Whirlaway, but in the Derby pool he's currently at 19-1; a very square price. I'm sure that's going to drop if he crushes the Whirlaway as expected, but I'll bet it doesn't go below 12-1.
OK, so why do I think this largely untested New York bred stands a chance in the Derby running against proven graded stakes types? Not only is he undefeated, but he's making everybody he races look silly. He's won his three races by a total of more than 25 lengths. There's no telling what this horse's actual class ceiling is - he might wind up being solid G2 horse and nothing more, but he might be a monster. At 19-1, I'll take a little stab at the latter. Maybe.