2011 Kentucky Derby Preview Part Two: Sleepers and Longshots

2011 Kentucky Derby
Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky
Saturday, May 7, 2011

The 2011 Kentucky Derby is May 7 at Churchill Downs in Louisville. The 20 horse field allows some long shots to contend.

In my last article I discussed some of the contenders for the 2011 Kentucky Derby. (You can read that article here ) Now we will discuss some of the sleepers and long shots in the race. Though they are long shots for a reason, sometimes they come in. You might recall Mine that Bird was an 80 to 1 long shot a couple of years ago and won the race.  The Derby has 20 horses in the field and that means that post position is very important. It is difficult to win from the inside post positions such as 1-4 and even more difficult to win from 17-20. The odds I am quoting are from bookmaker and are the future book odds. The official parimutual odds will not be out until May 4 when they draw the post positions.

Brilliant Speed (22/1) Jockey: Joel Rosario Trainer: Tom Albertrani

Brilliant Speed has 2 career wins in 8 starts. He was a long shot in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland but won the race against a fairly weak field to qualify for the Derby. He doesn’t have much experience racing against Derby level competition and has never raced at Churchill. His odds have dropped from around 30-1 to 22-1 in the last 2 days so someone likes him. he could be a nice sleeper pick.

Comma to the Top (33/1) Jockey: Calvin Borel or Corey Nakatani Trainer: Peter Miller

There is a question about who will ride Comma in the Derby. Corey Nakatani has ridden him for the last 6 races, but he qualified with Nehro. If Nakatani chooses to ride Nehro, the rumor is Calvin Borel will ride Comma To the Top. Borel has won the Derby 3 times including the last 2. Comma closed 2010 winning 5 races in a row but has not won in 3 races as a 3 year old this year. He came in second to Midnight Interlude at the Santa Anita, and has 2 4th place finishes as well in 2011. He has 13 career races but has never raced outside the state of California. If Borel rides him I think Comma can be a nice sleeper pick in such a wide open field.

Stay Thirsty (33/1) Jockey: Ramon Dominguez Trainer: Todd Pletcher

In six career starts, Stay Thirsty has 2 wins. He beat Toby’s Corner to win the Gotham at Aqueduct in early March. He was beaten badly in his two biggest races, coming in 5th at the BC Juvenile last fall and 7th at the Florida Derby earlier this month. Any horse trained by Pletcher has a chance, but I don’t think Stay Thirsty will live up to the beer commercial that inspired his name. He will not be the most interesting horse in the world. 

Pants on Fire (35/1) Jockey: Anna Napravnik Trainer: Kelly Breen

Pants on Fire has 2 wins in 7 career starts. He beat Nehro and Mucho Macho Man in the Louisiana Derby at Fairgrounds in late March in his last race out. He finished a disappointing 6th in the Risen Star in February behind Mucho Macho Man and Santiva. Pants on Fire is inconsistent but if the horse that won Louisiana shows up Pants could be a good sleeper candidate.

Animal Kingdom (35/1) Jockey: Alan Garcia Trainer: H. Graham Motion

Animal Kingdom only has 4 career starts. He won the grade three Spiral Stakes at Turfway in late March. He beat Decisive Moment in that race in his only race against Derby Level competition. He has 2 wins and 2 seconds in 4 races, but inexperience could be a problem. That is why he has such high odds.

Anthony’s Cross (35/1) Jockey: Joel Rosario Trainer: Eoin Harty

Anthony’s Cross has 2 wins in 7 career races. He has never finished lower than 5th in any race, but that 5th place finish was in the Santa Anita Derby, his only race against Derby level competition. He won the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in mid-February against a weak field. I don’t see him in the money at Churchill.

Santiva (44/1) Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan Trainer: Eddie Kenneally

In his first 5 races Santiva had a win 3 seconds, and a third, including a second place finish in the Breeder’s Cup Futurity last fall. However he had a disastrous 9th place finish at the Blue Grass last weekend. That might have been a fluke, as every horse has a bad day once in a while. I like Santiva as long shot pick.

Twice the Appeal (45/1) Jockey: Christian Santiago-Reyes Trainer: Jeff Bonde

Twice the Appeal has won his last 3 races including the grade three Sunland Derby in New Mexico in late March. he has 6 career starts.  He hasn’t beaten any of the other Derby contenders so that could be an issue.

Decisive Moment (50/1) Jockey: Kerwin Clark Trainer: Juan Arias

Decisive Moment has 2 wins in 8 career starts and no finish lower than 5th. He came in second at the Spiral Stakes to Animal Kingdom and 5th in the Risen Star. He has never raced in a Grade One race before.

Watch Me Go (55/1) Jockey: Luis Garcia Trainer: Kathleen O’Connell

Watch Me Go has 4 wins in 9 career starts. He was the upset winner in the Tampa Bay Derby in mid-March over Brethren, but finished 6th in the Illinois Derby against a weak field, the worst performance of his career. It would be a surprise if Watch Me Go contended in the Derby.

Other possible horses include Master of Hounds, Jaycito, Silver Medallion, and Astrology. Master of Hounds is up in the air because he is from Ireland and travel could be an issue. Jaycito, Silver Medallion and Astrology have to qualify in this weekend’s Coolmore Stakes at Lexington Park. Please keep in mind that jockeys can change and some of the horses I listed won’t race either because of injury or because they get bumped from the field by another horse. It should be a great race and I can’t wait until May 7.



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