by Karissa Morton
You guys, it’s Derby Day! My favorite two minutes of the year are rapidly approaching, so let’s jump right in!
Every year, I have a sentimental pick–always the horse with the most female connections. First, I look for fillies. Only 38 have ever started, & only three have won: Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980) & Winning Colors (1988). There aren’t any fillies in this race, so then I go to female jockeys. No female jockey has ever won the Derby, & since my favorite jockey, Rosie Napravnik, retired last year, there aren’t even any in the field to choose from. (Side note: THIS FACT SUCKS.) So let’s move on to trainers. There’s one horse in this year’s field saddled by a woman: Bolo, trained by Carla Gaines.
It’s apparent from interviews with her that she’s got a real passion for this sport, & she’s also outspoken about the fact that there’s still a lot of room for improvement in terms of women’s place in the industry, calling women “the backbone of the stable.” Basically I love her.
So. If you don’t really give a shit about the race, but want to root for the most feminist pick: Bolo.
The odds say this is a battle between American Pharaoh & Dortmund (both Bob Baffert horses). If you’re a favorite-picker, I’d put money on Dortmund over American Pharaoh–the latter doesn’t have have Turn-To in his pedigree, & 17 of the last 20 Derby winners have. Maybe that’s superstitious, but it’s hard to overlook, IMO.
Realistically, this one’s pretty close to a toss-up, so if you want to play tight with your money, either one’s a good bet.
If you want to make a pick between the odds-on favorites: Dortmund.
Moving on to possible upsets… Carpe Diem has good odds–currently sitting at 7-1 (which is an increase from last night). Why I like him: he’s a 4-1 Todd Pletcher horse & he has two Grade I victories–including Blue Grass earlier this month. His only losing race was a second place finish was to a horse who’s not in the Derby field. Pedigree says to be wary of him, though, because he’s got Storm Cat in his lineage & his progeny are 0-44 in the Derby. (Ouch.)
If you’re looking for a relatively safe upset: Carpe Diem.
A riskier upset pick is Danzig Moon. Why I like him: 1. His name is Danzig Moon. 2. He looks like Batman when he races:
Pedigree-wise, he avoids Storm Cat & hits Turn-To, & he finished second (to Carpe Diem) at Blue Grass. For the Derby, he drew a good fifth post position (fourth most likely position to win from–9.6%). Bob Schless says he has the kind of running style that’ll lead him to make his move around the turn & his strong pedigree will allow him to continually move up prior to that. A horse who can break around the turn is what you want to see on the screen today. The problem is that he just doesn’t have a winning history. Pair this with the fact that his attitude has led him to be described as the “bad boy” of the field–super aggressive &, well, mean–& you’ve got a risk. (Or this could turn into a brawl–Danzig Moon just goes up & starts kicking the shit out of everybody…) Pedigree & his extremely important Blue Grass finish make him appealing, but he’s still a tricky pick.
If you’re looking for a risky upset that’s hitting at the right time & just might pay off: Danzig Moon.