Friday, May 6, 2011

The 2011 Kentucky Derby: No Mo



Uncle Mo has been scratched the 2011 Kentucky Derby for some unspecified internal ailment. This was a big disappointment for me, and not because I thought he would win. After his bad finish in the Wood Memorial I had pretty much decided to toss him from the Derby - pure speed horses tend to do poorly in this race, and in the Wood, Uncle Mo showed that he can't really carry his speed over a long distance.

I was disappointed because I knew he would take a lot of dough, and the longshots would be even longer. And I'm looking for a longshot; there are no standouts this year and I believe it's anybody's race.

If you remember last year's No Hassle at the Castle Kentucky Derby analysis, I hemmed and hawed and waxed on before giving my pick for the winner. I then changed my mind the next day because of the rain and picked Super Saver (my first correct Derby pick in years).

This year I'll come right out with it: my win pick is Twice the Appeal. He's got a late running style, he's being ridden by Calvin Borel, who won three out of the last four Derbies, and he's opening at 20-1. That's Twice the Appeal at the top of this post winning the G3 Sunland Derby at Sunland Park in New Mexico, the same race that was taken down in 2009 by Mine That Bird, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby at 50-1 with Calvin Borel aboard.

Dialed In is the morning line favorite, and frankly, I think he's the logical choice. He looked strong in the Florida Derby, while all the other short-priced contenders sputtered in their big prep races in April. He's got the right running style, and a great slot for that style (post 8). But I'm not going to back any horse at 4-1 in a race like this, the risk/reward ratio is completely out of balance.

So what's my play? When there's a longshot on top, Derby trifecta pools are really something: Mine that Bird topped off a $20,750.30 trifecta, and in the 2005 Derby, when Giacomo came home at 50-1 followed by Closing Argument at 35-1, the payout was $133,134.80. Yikes!

I'm going deep into the trifecta pool with some other fellows, and here's a glimpse into my thinking (subject to some revision as we get closer to the race).

The first thing I did was eliminate half the field, which was mainly done according to running styles. The speed horses were summarily dismissed. The remaining ten were divided into A, B, and C groups according to my estimation of their realistic chances to win:

A: Twice the Appeal, Dialed In

B: Archarcharch, Nehro

C: Brilliant Speed, Stay Thirsty, Derby Kitten, Twinspired, Master of Hounds, and Animal Kingdom

The I started mixing up some trips, using the above groups:

A/A/BC
A/BC/A
BC/A/A

A/BC/BC
BC/A/BC
BC/BC/A

B/B/C
B/C/B
B/B/C

B/C/C
C/B/C
C/C/B

Trifecta box with all A's

Trifecta box with all C's

After all of this figuring and subdividing, I added up the cost: It was identical to a straight trifecta box, and I had done all this work for nothing. Ha!

So that's my play subject to revision by the other guys in my syndicate and weather-based changes (it may rain in Louisville tomorrow), the bluntest instrument imaginable:

Trifecta box: 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 16, 19

Tune in to No Hassle at the Castle tomorrow night and you will find one of two things: Either some lame excuses as to why I lost, or nothing at all, because I won so much cash that I'm on a plane to the islands and have no time or desire to blog!