The last time I was at the Kentucky Derby it was 1996, and Grindstone won. There were 19 horses in the field that year. Through different permutations and combinations I had 15 different horses covered with betting tickets. Grindstone, despite being 6/1, was not one of them. My point is that you will want to take my Derby predictions with a grain of salt. That being said, here are the three horses I am planning to play this year (assuming they make the field – it hasn’t been set as I write this):
Pioneerof The Nile – I am scared to death of his lack of dirt experience, but I like his class, his connections, and the way he looks. I’ll have to win, and on top and below in exotics.
I Want Revenge – There is nothing to not like about this horse. I love how he handled adversity in the Wood, and he is sure to find more here. I expect him to be the favorite (though he may very well not be, and I hope he isn’t), and I will determine my strategy with him based on how low he goes.
Musket Man – He’s coming in off a race that has produced non-contenders for the last few years, but War Emblem won after winning in Illinois. He has done nothing wrong, he has got better in every outing, and he has improved with every race. He’s also far enough under the radar that his price will be higher than it should be. I like that.
Follow these picks or make your own – it doesn’t matter to me either way. Whatever you do, though, the one thing you should definitely do is find yourself a mint julep to drink while you are watching the race. It is a quintessentionlly Derby experience, and it’s tasty to boot. If you are new to the Julep, the let me help you out with this mint julep recipe:
First, you have to make a simple syrup. Take equal parts sugar and water – about two cups of each will last you through the day. Boil it together for about five minutes. Add about eight sprigs of mint to the boiling syrup and cook for an additional minute or two. Put syrup and mint in a container and cool it in the fridge for an hour or more.
Next, add a bunch of ice, too much bourbon (buy the good stuff – cheap bourbon is a friend to no one), and a healthy tablespoon of the syrup in a glass. Stir it, and enjoy. If you are looking to impress someone add some mint as a garnish.
Normally I would say pace yourself with a drink like this, but the Derby and restraint are two things that should never be used in the same sentence.