This Derby has been difficult to predict: You have several green colts who didn’t race as two-year-olds but have been unbeatable; you have a champion from England who wowed everyone with a speedy race in the UAE, but is untested against American horses; and you have a few horses who excelled at two who haven’t lived up to their two-year-old hype. What to do?
When in doubt, I go with the fast horse. The fastest. The one who’s proven that he can outrun any 3-year-old on the track. And that, despite being unraced as a two-year-old, is Justify. His last three Beyer figures have been over 100, with a field-best 107, just beating Mendelssohn’s 106. `
So why not Mendelssohn? He impressed everyone with an 18 1/2 length romp at the UAE Derby, but he came over very late in the week and only got one workout on the Churchill Downs track. Reports said he was sweaty before the workout; I just don’t feel good about this horse, despite his talent.
Audible is my choice for second place. He has a good post position, and unless he gets boxed in, he should be there toward the end.
Third, Free Drop Billy. There’s usually one horse who comes from off the pace, and the pace should be quick at the beginning as Instilled Regard tries to outrun the field.
Bolt D’Oro, my sentimental favorite, just isn’t in Justify’s league, as shown in the Santa Anita Derby. I put him at fourth, unless he gets a very good ride and can stay near the front toward the beginning of the race.
We’ll see what happens. I wouldn’t be surprised if Magnum Moon or Good Magic gets on the board. It’s anybody’s race at this point.