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There are two recent examples of decisions make by jockeys that surprised me and have me wondering to what extent those decisions should influence my Kentucky Derby wagering.
For starters, the biggest news this week was that Mike Smith chose Omaha Beach over Roadster. Given the fact that Omaha Beach barely beat Game Winner in the Rebel, and that Roadster seemingly ran down Game Winner with just the slightest bit of ease, I thought the safe move would have been for Smith to choose Roadster. Additionally, you could argue that Omaha Beach has a penchant for an off track, and benefitted from that in his Arkansas Derby win. If that’s the case, it would be another reason to give Roadster a slight edge, unless of course Smith’s agent has access to an advanced weather forecast that calls for rain in Louisville on Derby Day.
Add in the fact that Smith and Baffert teamed up to win the friggin Triple Crown last year, and you have several good reasons for electing to ride Roadster. But Smith chose differently. So does that mean, as handicappers, we are forced to give an edge to Omaha Beach? I mean, if Smith REALLY thought Roadster had the better chance in the Kentucky Derby, would he have chosen Omaha Beach? No way, right?
There is just no other way to look at it. You have to move Omaha Beach ahead of Roadster. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use them both prominently.
Moving on, what about John Velazquez’s decision to ride Code of Honor over Spinoff for Todd Pletcher? I sort of felt that was going to happen, but I was hoping it would not. And Manny Franco, Spinoff’s new pilot, has been red hot recently. Again, if JV thought both horses were somewhere around equally likely to with the Derby, doesn’t he choose Spinoff out of loyalty to Pletcher? I think his decision has to mean that he fancies the chances of Code of Honor in a big way.
My point is that in the cases of JV and Smith, the safe and easy choice would have been to choose Roadster and Spinoff. But both jocks went with different horses. As someone who really likes the chances of Spinoff, do I need to reevaluate?
Luckily, we have more than two weeks to decide.