Since anything worse than a 2nd-place finish would have kept My Boy Jack out of the Kentucky Derby starting gate, that’s exactly what I was hoping for in the Lexington Stakes. Things didn’t turn out as I had hoped. And now I am forced, against my will, to make a decision about how to use him from a wagering perspective in the Derby. I didn’t ask to be in this position. But here I am.
The reality is that I don’t think My Boy Jack is anywhere near the threat to win the Kentucky Derby that Good Magic, Audible, and Justify are. But to totally dismiss him from trifecta and superfecta consideration takes wagering confidence that I don’t think I have at this point. At least as it pertains to My Boy Jack. Other than his stalk and fade effort in the Sham when he was closer to the early pace than he prefers to be, My Boy Jack has made up ground in the closing stages of every route race in his career. Actually, he made up ground at the end of his 5 furlong career debut as well.
Last year’s Kentucky Derby runner-up Lookin at Lee had a similar running style. But in my opinion, if you are looking to find a big price to spice up your Derby exotics, you would be better served trying to find a horse that more closely mirrors the “accomplishments” and running style of two recent Dallas Stewart Kentucky Derby entrants: Golden Soul and Commanding Curve. Both of them ran 2nd in the Kentucky Derby, and as I don’t have their career PPs right in front of me, if memory serves, they ran a lot of races just behind mid-pack at the start, and slowly (perhaps even VERY slowly) made their way to just beyond mid-pack by the end of the race. So neither horse showed a flash of speed at any point in most of their races. But they showed the ability to keep moving forward as everyone else was stopping. My theory is that in a race like the Kentucky Derby, as almost every horse is completely out of gas with 1/8thmile still to go, you need to find the horse that will be slowing down less dramatically than most or all of the others. And I wonder if My Boy Jack is that kind of horse. It seems like many of his fans think he is. I am not so sure. We will talk about horses that I think are better exotics-fillers in another discussion. But for now, I’ll plan to limit my use of My Boy Jack to the 3rd and 4th spots, and likely not on every ticket. For the most part, I am against this horse.
Ok, what about Magnum Moon? I’ll predict right now that he won’t even be among the top four favorites in the wagering. He’ll be behind Justify, Mendelssohn, Audible, and Good Magic. I have never been high on him, and I saw nothing in the Arkansas Derby that would change my mind. If he runs in the Derby exacta, I will tear up every exotic ticket I have. The only horse I want out of that Arkansas Derby is Solomini. He was really wide all the way around, and just wasn’t able to mount a serious closing effort with the fractions as slow as they were. I see him being nearly 20-1 in the Kentucky Derby, and when was the last time a Bob Baffert trainee went off at those odds? (I’m seriously asking because I have no idea). Solomini fights hard every time. He was the best horse when he beat McKinzie at Los Al before being DQ’d. His Rebel effort wasn’t bad at all. And I liked his performance on Saturday. Was it great? No. Do I think he can win the Kentucky Derby? Not really. Can I see him chugging along for 3rd or 4th? Absolutely. So he will be on all of my tickets. No doubt about it.
With the very disappointing injury to Runaway Ghost, Firenze Fire is now in the Kentucky Derby as #20 on the list (or I guess he’s #19 with Gronkowski getting the last spot). The next four on the list are all trained by Steve Asmussen, and other than Dream Baby Dream, I won’t be using any of them should one of them manage to draw into the Derby field. But back to Firenze Fire for a moment. I don’t see him being at his best at this distance, or really any distance beyond a mile. They should skip the Derby with him.
Let’s take a crack at an early exacta elimination list from the current list of 20….
- Gronkowski – Just not at the same level as too many of these
- Firenze Fire – Not his distance.
- Magnum Moon – I am not buying the hype at all.
- Mendelssohn – Won’t get the same track at Churchill Downs that he did at Meydan.
- Lone Sailor – Big threat to finish last in my opinion.
- Promises Fulfilled – Not a bad horse, but I like too many others more.
- Noble Indy – He’s not as good as too many others, and the price doesn’t excite.
- Quip – Love him for Derbies in states that border Kentucky. Ohio, Indiana, West Virginia…