Scott previews the Kentucky Derby
DERBY FOR DUMMIES
When it comes to handicapping the Kentucky Derby, risk your reputation, not your money. Hollywood didn’t make a fortune with movies about race track losers for nothing. The vast majority of movie goers identifies with the railbird ripping up a trifecta ticket, not with William Powell and Myrna Loy in the box seat with the binoculars and the winner. The regular track denizens are much more informed than guys like you and me, everyday Joes who’s interest peaks the first week of May and lasts only into June, and then only if there’s one horse that holds our interest that long. When it comes to, not only picking “win, place and show”, but knowing how to portion out the betting to make it worth while, we don’t stand a chance. Stick with impressing your friends, it’s less expensive, and, even if you don’t pick a winner, you can at least sound intelligent. Over the years I’ve become an enthusiastic viewer of the Triple Crown races and the Breeders Cup and to the end of impressing your friends and saving your money, I’ve picked up a pointer or two. A primer. Picking the winner isn’t necessary to look intelligent, just make your pick with authority. You can always add an excuse later, like, “There was no way to know the jockey was going to die in the clubhouse turn”, or, “You know, they switched jockeys in the middle of the week and I heard the guy they got is eighty-something.” To help you sound informed, I give you a couple of names. While even the experts can’t agree on who’s going to win this thing, which also helps to make the rest of us look just as smart as they are, “Orb” is the early favorite, so picking him is a plus, but you’ll look even smarter if you pick him second or third, because there are at least a couple of real studs in this field that can leave him in their dust, like Santa Anita Derby winner “Goldencents” or “Revolutionary”, a horse that’s been charging hard at the Triple Crown. And if “Orb” does win, you had his name in the mix. Story lines can always make you look like an officianado, and this Derby has some good ones. If you do pick “Goldencents”, for instance, you can point out one of his owners is Louisville men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino, who’s going for his own trifecta, having already won the NCAA championship and been named to the Basketball Hall of Fame this year, and his jockey, Kevin Krigger, would become the first black jockey to win the Derby in 111 years. Another good story line is Gary Stephens, riding 20-1 shot “Oxbow”. He’s 50 years old and coming off eight years of retirement and a pivotal role in the movie “Seabiscuit” to make this ride. Rosie Napravnik is riding “Mylute”, at 25-1, looking to become the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. Sentimental favorites are always good too, they demonstrate a knowlege of the depth of the field. A line like, “I’d really like to see “Normandy Invasion” win because my father was in the first wave”, gives people the idea you really have this race scoped out. And remember, it’s the 139th running. Toss that into the conversation because most people watching the Derby don’t know this. Have fun, and remember, you can impress people without losing your money. You don’t have to be a tout to sound like one. With some helpful Derby hints from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.