A Year of Derby Remorse
Do me a favor. If you have your mind made up about your Derby horse before reading Nick’s Picks please stay with it. I won’t be insulted if you don’t like #6 Good Magic. You don’t want to spend a Derby year like mine.
Coming into last year’s Kentucky Derby, I spent four months voting Always Dreaming on top of the 3-year old standings in the NTRA poll. Despite many voters touting Classic Empire and McCraken for most of the spring, I stayed loyal to Always Dreaming. Loyal that is, until 48 hours before the Derby.
Caught up in a wave of enthusiasm of my daughter’s upcoming trip to Ireland, having a father that lectured for the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame and looking to pass over the favorite who had won the last four Derbies prior, I got nostalgic. My heart got in the way. I jumped.
I typed in Irish War Cry on the top line of Race 12 of Nick’s Picks. I did this.
Irish War Cry didn’t run poor. He broke well, worked his way into third and weakened to 10th. Yet, Irish War Cry was always behind Always Dreaming who was never worse than second. Always Dreaming was the favorite at 4.7 to 1. Irish War Cry was 4.8-1. I gave up Derby bragging rights for a year for an extra dime. My older brother had Always Dreaming. When the post race phone call came, I couldn’t take it.
I wasn’t the first, I won’t be the last. Picking the Derby is hard though recently everything had been working for me. Starting with I’ll Have Another in 2012, then American Pharoah in 2015, and Nyquist in 2016, I had three top winners in the last five editions. I could have had four of the last six. I blame myself. You can’t dictate Derby, you can only roll with it.
I missed regularly the Derby winner in the era of Giacamo and Mind That Bird each year but once (Barbaro, 2006) in my previous 17 attempts. The Derby had suddenly become easy. I had cashed some big tickets but in order to do so, I had to place several runners on the top line of my exotics. I bet horses. I’m a handicapper, what can I say (now), I whine.
In 2012, the last year I went to Louisville, I picks the Derby superfecta cold (I’ll Have Another, Virginia-bred Bodemeister, Dullahan and Went the Day Well). I had placed a superfecta bet somewhere in the amount of $5 in tribute for nearly every Derby since the bet was invented. However, I thought I’ll Have Another at 15-1 on top of a trifecta ticket in a 20-horse field would be enough. I let the superfecta go by. The trifecta that paid $1,532.50 for $1 wasn’t bad. The lost superfecta that was $48,046.40 for $1 remains depressing.
I’ll take a minute here to allow you wipe a tear from your eye in my sorrow as you read this.
So play the smallest token of a superfecta ticket. Play my picks for the Oaks and Derby cards. But if you already have something in mind, don’t touch that Derby. Win or lose, from this May to next April