The Kentucky Derby has come and gone. It was quite a strange race this year. The odds of the favorites were very high comparative to other years and the odds of the “long shots” were very low. Horses that were 10-1 in this year’s Derby could have been 20-1 or 30-1 in years past. In the end, Super Saver emerged victorious under jockey Calvin Borel for trainer Todd Pletcher. It was Borel’s third victory in Four years. The win was due in large part to Borel and a sloppy track. He rides well on an off track and he is easily the best jockey at Churchill Downs. That is not to say he isn’t a fast horse, but others aren’t too far behind. Let’s look at Super Saver’s strengths and weaknesses.
Tactical Speed – The winner of the Run for the Roses could have the early lead if he wanted. He could also take off the pace and lay mid pack. This is a great advantage because he can adapt to the pace no matter what happens. Pimlico Racecourse favors horses that are closer to the pace because of its sharp turns. We can expect Calvin Borel to have him in the top three early on in the race.
Wet Tracks – Super Saver’s two biggest wins came in the Kentucky Jockey Club and the Kentucky Derby. Both wins were on a wet track. If the rain gods show up at Pimlico on Saturday he will have no problems once again. In fact, it may even help his chances. Knowing that he can handle an off going is critical because we may or may not know how the other horses will fare in these conditions.
Calvin Borel – I hate to say it, but having this guy in the irons will make ANY horse better. The Cajun rider just knows how to do it. I can’t explain why or how, but horses will run for him that won’t for other jockeys. He knows Super Saver well and he is in great sync with them. You can bet your ass that Borel will have him in with a shot to win turning for home. He will most likely be on the rail. He wouldn’t be Calvin Borel if he didn’t.
Calvin Borel – Just as the jockey is a strength he can also be a weakness at times. He can get a little cocky and loss races thinking his horse is better than it actually is. This is demonstrated by his guarantee to win the 2007 Preakness. He quit riding toward the end of the race and Curlin came flying to beat him by a dirty nose. He also guaranteed that Mine That Bird would take the Belmont Stakes last year. He ended up third. Borel has already said Super Saver will win the Triple Crown. He needs to keep his head in check or he might hurt this ones chances.
Todd Pletcher – Don’t get us wrong, Pletcher is among the best. However, he has never found himself in this situation. How will he handle it as a trainer? He may pass this test with flying colors and he may trip up like many have before him. We believe he will do just fine, but the possibility is always there. He worked Super Saver in a soft :36 3/5 for three furlongs this week. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:02 seconds. Was that too much? Who knows, but if the loses some may point to the work.
Everyone great warrior has chinks in his armor and that is true for Super Saver, Calvin Borel, and Todd Pletcher. They also have great strengths. They wouldn’t have made it this far if they didn’t. The Preakness will surely be interesting for the Kentucky Derby winner.