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Apr 27, 2012

The 138th Kentucky Derby pretenders

By: By Jeff Frank, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Ten of the last 20 Kentucky Derby races have been won by horses that were at least 10-1. In addition, two other winners were 8-1 and another was 9-1.

On the flip side, only four favorites have been victorious over that time span

Field size has had little to do with determining which horse wins the race as the betting choice (or second favorite) has won the last three times the Derby has had a full field of 20. On the other hand, Giacomo, one of the two 50-1 shots to win the race since 2005, prevailed seven years ago in a 20-horse field.

This year will have its share of high-priced colts looking to duplicate the feats of Giacomo and Mine That Bird. The latter came through with a dominating 6 3/4-length score in 2009, a year there were seven horses at 40-1 or higher.

Mine That Bird's victory had a lot to do with the odds the following couple of years as Discreetly Mine was the longest shot on the board at 31-1 in 2010 and Decisive Moment was the highest-priced horse at 39-1 last year.

Six horses in 2011 were 30-1 or higher and the same number of colts should be over 30-1 this time around.

Leading the charge is Done Talking, the upset winner of the Illinois Derby. The field that was assembled for the 55th running of Hawthorne's most prestigious event was arguably the worst group of 3-year-olds this year as not one of the 14 horses had won a graded stakes race longer than seven furlongs.

Furthermore, the final time of the race was the slowest in decades and the horse that finished second came back to run last in this past Saturday's Lexington Stakes.

Done Talking might be the longest-priced colt in the race but he will not finish in the 20th spot. That position is reserved for the latest entrant into the race, Trinniberg.

Owned by Shivananda Parbhoo, Trinniberg was given a 15 percent chance of running in the Kentucky Derby as late as last week. However, citing the defection of Secret Circle, Parhboo changed his tune and decided to send the two-time stakes winner to Churchill Downs. His reasoning was that the lack of speed in the race would be enhanced without Secret Circle.

I guess he failed to notice how quick Hansen and Bodemeister were on the front end in the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby, respectively, along with the fact that Secret Circle has not even seen the lead in his last two races.

There is no denying how good Trinniberg is, but winning loose on the lead going seven panels in Grade III events is far different than tackling the big boys in the Kentucky Derby.

Prospective is another colt that has little chance of winning the Run for the Roses. The son of Malibu Moon finished sixth in the Blue Grass Stakes, and the last horse to win the Derby after running fifth or worse in his final prep race was Iron Liege in 1957.

Many Kentucky Derby trends have been diffused in recent years, but it is not as if Prospective will be the horse to snap this streak. He is too slow to maintain decent early position and he is not fast enough to pass the majority of horses in front of him.

It is also tough to back Prospective on the first Saturday in May when his connections debated withdrawing the horse from consideration last week even though he has enough graded earnings to qualify.

Three Other Non-Factors

Sabercat is a colt that wouldn't even be here if he did not win the $1 million Delta Jackpot Stakes as a 2-year-old. That race has had little effect on the Kentucky Derby in the past and this year will be no exception.

The son of 2006 Derby runner-up Bluegrass Cat should be last or next-to-last throughout most of the early running and could finish in the top half of the race if the pace is quick. However, to expect anything more than that is asking for a miracle.

Sabercat did close well from ninth to finish third in the Arkansas Derby in his second race off the layoff, but Bodemeister still beat him by over nine lengths and he was only a head in front of Cozetti at the wire.

Rousing Sermon comes to Churchill Downs in almost the same fashion as Sabercat. The Jerry Hollendorfer-trained colt closed from the back of the pack to finish third in his final prep - the Louisiana Derby. Nevertheless, he was beaten by 109-1 shot Hero of Order and he failed to hit the board in his two other races this year, losing by a combined 14 1/2 lengths.

Liaison battled hard with Rousing Sermon as 2-year-olds, defeating him in both the Real Quiet Stakes and the Cash Call Futurity. However, both colts, especially Liaison, have failed to mature as 3-year-olds.

The son of Indian Charlie began the new campaign by losing his jockey through the stretch in the Robert B. Lewis, but he had already faded into fifth at the time of the incident.

That effort was followed by a pair of similar performances at Santa Anita, which included a lackluster fourth in the San Felipe and a disappointing sixth as the third choice behind Creative Cause and I'll Have Another in the Santa Anita Derby.

It's not often a top 2-year-old, especially one that emerged in November and December, fades into oblivion in the spring but that has been the case with Liaison.


1) I'll Have Another - Will have one more workout before coming to Churchill

2) Bodemeister - Might get a perfect trip sitting behind Trinniberg and Hansen

3) Union Rags - Those who bet him in the final two future wagers wished they saved their money since his odds will be higher on May 5

4) Dullahan - Desormeaux looks for Derby win No. 4 on the top closer in the field

5) Creative Cause - If his idiosyncrasies outweigh his talent on the first Saturday in May, don't expect a winning performance

6) Gemologist - Will take a lot of action being an undefeated Pletcher colt, but is he really good enough?

7) El Padrino - Might be overlooked just as Thunder Gulch was in 1995

8) Alpha - His minor left foreleg injury certainly doesn't build confidence

9) Hansen - Has zero chance if he can't be rated, especially with Trinniberg in the race

10) Take Charge Indy - Will be an underlay with Borel in the saddle

11) Mark Valeski - Has enough graded earnings despite zero wins in two stakes races

12) Daddy Long Legs - The "X" factor coming over from Dubai after disappointing Breeders' Cup Juvenile

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