Picking the Kentucky Derby

Have you ever wondered what people who pick horse races actually bet at the windows?

There's not much worse than somebody who hits the replay.

One good way to judge a person's character is through accountability. If you can't face being wrong about your guesses, what possible good could you be in a more serious situation?

Every market has its foul picker, the person who is afraid that admitting bad picks makes him or her a blowhard -- an unfit, self-proclaimed expert. Bad sports picks are usually ignored quicker than yesterday's weather forecast of partly cloudy and mild when it rained so much it flooded. Here's the definition of a worthless picker: somebody who misses the Super Bowl and the over/under number, then comes back in public the day after and says, "I hit the heads/tails proposition bet and broke even."

Masters of the replay are all over the racetrack: They're people who pop up grinning five minutes after a race and say, of the horse that bounced off the rail, almost lost its jockey, fanned eight wide and won at odds of 75-1 when the first two finishers were disqualified, "I had the long shot."

So here is all the disclosure I have on me at the moment.

I have about 75 dollars' worth of futures tickets on Revolutionary. True, his jockey jumped ship. True, his best Beyer number is probably off-track inflated. True, he breaks with reservation. True, his new old jockey is best appreciated when overlooked. Those are truisms enough so that I will wager no more on this one solely to win.

As for bets still to be offered, this is what it looks like, two-buck chances and all: I always bet $2 combinations of everything listed as picks.

I'm a big fan of streaks, hot and ice cold. So there goes Rick Pitino's horse, Goldencents, on top of six or seven others. Pitino's Louisville basketball team won the NCAA title. Goldencents figures to be close to the front, where there is apt to be less nonsense.

This isn't the best field for the mandatory pet-name wagers. Few poodles are apt to be named Oxbow.

Lucky numbers are also required plays in this race -- they're secret, so no one will tap into anything important. I have a long tradition of betting a little something on female jockeys because of the way the good and bad old boys wouldn't play a female rider with your money.

A few dozen dollars have to be reserved for the overnight double, any late changes or nutty weather could cause guaranteed-loser picks from the old reliable handicappers. According to national experts, the weather should be cool and could do anything from something to nothing. There is a 50 percent chance it will be OK Saturday. Which is about the only one the meteorologists can hit.

Here's the field by post, and some picks. The post-position draw was right from Central Casting, who could complain. As for the morning line, the oddsmaker sure likes Rosie and Goldencents, putting relatively short opening numbers on both.

Kentucky Derby breakdown

20. Vyjack (15-1): Has to go third and four on some tickets, even coming from left field.

19. Java's War (15-1): Short price for one with no dirt scores.

18. Frac Daddy (50-1): Two decent Churchill experiences.

17. Will Take Charge (20-1): Was 28-1 in Arkansas.

16. Orb (7-2): Searching for first 100 Beyer.

15. Charming Kitten (20-1): First race on dirt could double odds.

14. Verrazano (4-1): Knock on wood was its end.

13. Falling Sky (50-1): Ran OK once when rain fell from the sky.

12. Itsmyluckyday (15-1): Has won more races than anybody: 5.

11. Lines of Battle (30-1): First race on dirt, first in the USA, fell into points in UAE.

10. Palace Malice (20-1): His best finish puts him fourth in the Derby.

9. Overanalyze (15-1): Efforts to date look like this: on, off, on, off, on, off, on.

8. Goldencents (5-1): Wasn't this short in Los Angeles.

7. Giant Finish (50-1): New York-bred, as name might imply.

6. Mylute (15-1): The fancy hats will like this one.

5. Normandy Invasion (12-1): Maiden winner.

4. Golden Soul (50-1): Won owners a nice seat.

3. Revolutionary (10-1): Heavy on the drama.

2. Oxbow (30-1): Has had some of the worst posts in horse racing history.

1. Black Onyx (50-1): Heads up down there.


1. Normandy Invasion
2. Orb
3. Revolutionary
4. Verrazano

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.