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Kentucky Derby Closers
When it comes to the Kentucky Derby there are so many factors that affect the outcome of the race and who wins, so we don�t believe that one type of horse is better suited for the Derby then another, but lately deep closers have been doing very well. Just last year on a sloppy Churchill Downs track, much like the one they are expecting for this Saturday, we saw Calvin Borel give Mine That Bird the ride of a lifetime from last to first to win by over 6 lengths. In 2007 Borel was at it again coming from the back of the pack weaving through horses and picked off rivals one by one on his way to the victory.
Then in 2005 we saw Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith get his first Derby victory aboard Giacomo with a very similar trip coming from way back to win a close one over Closing Argument and Afleet Alex. In all three of those races they have one thing in common and that was a quick early pace. They all had an opening quarter in 22 and change which set up perfectly for a horse coming late, and with rain in the forecast that should help the closers even more like we saw last year with the 50-1 longshot Mine That Bird. This year�s Derby seems to have quite a bit of early pace, so if we see a quick pace early on we feel these are the TOP 5 closers to look out for coming down the stretch.
#1) Awesome Act � He spent most of his 2 yr old year in Europe racing over there before coming to the US for the Breeder�s Cup. He ran a solid 4th in the BC Juvenile Turf so Trainer Jeremy Noseda decided to campaign him over here for the TC trail. In his first race as a 3 yr old he turned in one of the most impressive prep performances winning the Gotham, but in the Wood Memorial he missed some training and he threw a shoe in the race which caused him to be a handful for jockey Julien Leparoux. He was fighting Leparoux the whole race for him to let him run, so when it came time to run he was already spent. Leparoux is the best in the business at getting horses to settle so unless another mishap occurs like throwing a shoe he should be able to get a great position from the 16 hole, and if he relaxes and gets a solid pace to run at like he did in the Gotham your going to see that European turn of foot at the top of the stretch and he will be a handful for the speed horses to hold off.
#2) Lookin At Lucky � If you go back and look at this colt�s wins he really seems to wait till the very last second to really kick things into gear, but inside the 1/16 pole he turns it up a notch. With him getting the #1 post position its going to be crucial that Garret Gomez can find him a nice spot early and not get shut off going into the 1st turn. This horse�s chances for the win all depend on how Gomez can maneuver around early on, because if he doesn�t establish a position early Gomez very well could get into trouble later in the race like he did in the Rebel clipping heels and in the Santa Anita Derby getting shut off on the rail. We all know what kind of closing kick this horse has the question is will he be able to showcase that this Saturday or will he be fighting to find running room late in the stretch?
#3) Ice Box � In this year�s Derby Ice Box is the one horse who looks the most like past Derby winners who came from way back like Mine That Bird, Street Sense, and Giacomo. He will be way back early on and will be hoping to get another fast early pace like he did in the Florida Derby. With him drawing the #2 post he will face the same problems Lookin at Lucky will, but with him being a deep closer I would expect jockey Jose Lezcano just to avoid traffic problems at all cost even if that means taking his colt back to last. He is going to need a very quick pace to get the job done, but if Mine That Bird can do it from last this colt can definitely get the job done if everything falls into place for him late in the race.
#4) Stately Victor � While Ice Box resembles those three derby winning closers with his running style this colt resembles Mine That Bird and Giacomo when it comes to Derby odds. Stately Victor was 40-1 when he won the Bluegrass by over 4 lengths and we expect him to be around the same odds this Saturday also. This is a tough horse to figure out because his performance in the Blue Grass came out of nowhere, but he looked very good doing it and has been training well. Can lightning strike twice in the Derby? We don�t believe it will, but we also didn�t think he would be competitive in the Blue Grass, and like we said before if Mine That Bird can do it anyone can.
#5) Dublin � Off talent he is much better then #5 on this list, but the thing that makes me question Dublin is the lack of killer instinct he has shown in his races this year. In his races he always comes on late in the race, but he just can�t seem to get past the horses in front of him especially in the Arkansas Derby. He had every opportunity to pass Line of David who had led from the start setting quick fractions and he was unable to do it. It looks like this horse does his best running from very far back like he was in the Southwest when he was 12 lengths back early and closed furiously late to lose by less then a length to Derby Contender Conveyance. I would love to see Dublin farther back early then he has been in his last two races, and since this is the Derby there is a very good chance that could happen. We don�t know if he has what it takes to pass the best 3 yr old�s in the country inside the 1/16 pole, but with D Wayne Lukas training him you can never count him out.
2010 Kentucky Derby Coverage