Questions spring up fast as flowers as the Derby approaches.
Q: What post positions show up best at the Kentucky Derby?
A: The number 10 post position is great. The number 9 post position is horrible. Go figure.
They almost have to send out search teams to look for some of the inside horses, as they're caught in what resembles an avalanche. An inside horse's recourse to being swamped is to run too fast and quit too soon.
Outside spots are not as bad as you might imagine.
Q: How has the new point system worked?
A: A mere 20 points could get a horse in the Derby.
That's loping around second at the Sunland race, or third at the Louisiana Derby.
Lots of horses are getting in with a relative small amount of money won. Palace Malace almost has more Derby points accumulated than dollars won -- 50 points and only $200,000 earned. Horses falling in the second 20 have won more than double that amount.
But the point system has generated a lot of interest in the prep races; interest pays the bills.
Q: How could the winner of two Grade 2 races have gone off at 4-1 odds in the Arkansas Derby?
A: Talk about a well-named horse. Overanalyze was overanalyzed.
Lots of people miss out on great payoffs because they can't throw out a bad race. Even handicappers who have been around forever think of bad races in anthropomorphic terms. They apply human emotions to horses, the way people do with dogs.
"My poodle loves wearing those booties."
"Look, my St. Bernard is smiling."
"That horse has no guts."
People forget that animals aren't like people, which can get expensive at the track. Running a line through a young horse's worst race can cast a vastly different perspective on a field, and the tote board. Young horses have bad days for any of a dozen reasons that have little to do with overall ability. Being young is one reason many of them throw in a clunker. Had Overanalyze's worst race been ignored, he would have been odds-on at Oaklawn. Getting in the habit of forgetting a young horse's worst race is decent handicapping.
Q: What is the likelihood of a Triple Crown winner this year?
A: Next to nothing.
We're likely to see three different winners.
Q: You talk about trendy horses being bad bets. Who will be this Derby's trendy horse?
A: Normandy Invasion is picking up wise guys by the hour.
This trend is developing so early, it's not an automatic throw-out like the stuff trainers suggest to media "experts," Derby week.
Q: What are your top three?
A: Orb, Verrazano, Revolutionary.
Verrazano is apt to be around even money.
He stopped on a dime about five yards past the finish in his last one.
Q: What's the most overlooked bet at the Derby?
A: The overnight double matching the Oaks and Derby winners usually pays more than expected, even when one of the prices is short.
Q: Isn't it insulting that so many of the internet sites actually give us money to join and play? They're saying that they know we'll lose all that and will be back to lose again with more of our own cash.
A: It's not like Vegas, which makes the games and wins what you lose.
The online sites are connected to track odds and are hoping your 25-1 shot gets there.
They get a cut of money bet through them.
They do know how to market don't they. Name the last time you ever got anything but a hard time at your simulcast joint.
Write to Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org.