Derby Q & A

Members of the horse-related media are popular at Kentucky Derby time. I know what you're up to. I do the same thing. You want a so-called media expert's Derby pick so you can run a line through it and bet another way.

I've been on a number of radio shows and wouldn't want to deprive the readers of this column some of what I've been thinking out loud.

Q: What's so fascinating about this Derby?

A: Likely favorite Brother Derek has run against one field of more than nine horses, going off at odds of 57-1 on that occasion, finishing fourth. Bob and John has run against more than nine horses once, finishing fourth. Lawyer Ron has 14 starts and has run at seven tracks. Barbaro has never run against fewer than 11 horses, but has only one race over a dirt track rated fast. Sinister Minister has never been a favorite.
Sweetnorthernsaint came from an Econoluxe-type breeding shed that charged only $3,500. Bluegrass Cat has no Beyer 100 or higher. Steppenwolfer has no Beyer 95 or higher. Keyed Entry has the second highest Beyer of the Derby possibilities at 110. Like Now hasn't run since the seasons changed -- he's off more than six weeks. I could outrun the last horse that will get in. In other words, in any words, there's seldom been a Derby seem so competitive; thus unpredictable.

Q: What's the key to winning?

A: First things first, which is surviving the first turn, which figures to resemble the frightening of the bulls in Pamplona. Sinister Minister cannot be allowed to run free, a scary thought, considering curves.

Q: Do you bet a lot on the Derby?

A: It depends on how you regard fifty bucks. Lots of handicappers love big fields, the point being, the more horses in the race, the larger the payoffs are apt to be. But my idea of the perfect horse race is a five-horse field at Blue Ribbon Downs where the odds-on chalk can't win and two others could use a long rest. The good thing about the Derby is $2 perfectly wagered will get you plenty.

Q: What's the future of horse racing?

A: There are two angles to the sport, the spectacle of the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup races, and the routine of a weekday night at Evangeline, Finger Lakes, Charles Town. Once a year the magpies on the sports shows on national television take a look at horse racing and proclaim it to be without a pulse. Horse racing is not a game. It's a gamble. Backsides in the grandstand seats don't always reflect success or failure. Money bet matters. Money can be bet from another land. Hot dog sales at the track might be dead. Horse racing isn't. In a great many instances, the future of horse racing is hooked to casino action, mainly slot machines. Who bemoans the future of slots? The future of horse racing is also tied to old people, if you ask me. Old people are getting younger every day. Old-ish people are retiring sooner. They have time and money on their hands. Developers are mauling the land. Just watch. There will be more seniors hanging onto the rail soon. The best way to learn about horse racing has always been from a parent or grandparent.

Q: What's your Derby pick?

A: It's a little early still -- specifics will be printed here next week. This could help simplify a very difficult race. Take two front-runners, two stalkers, two closers, and box.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com

Kentucky Derby television coverage begins Saturday, May 6 at 5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports.