LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - No race is tougher to ferret out than the Kentucky Derby, which at times can seem as perplexing 30 minutes before post time as it is 30 days out.
It can look so easy after the fact, so here we helpfully tell you in advance why the winner will prevail.
Of course we do it for every horse in the field -- as well as explaining why you can't possibly cash a ticket betting that horse.
So let us do the detective work as we case out the Kentucky Derby -- including the perilous exercise of handicapping the Racing Gods.
Notes: Final Fractions reflects how fast the horse ran the last eighth-mile and last three-eighths of a mile in its 1 1/8-mile prep race. The Final Fraction Theory rules out horses who ran the last eighth slower than 13.0 and the last three-eighths in slower than 38.0. Bris and Beyer speed figures are ratings designed to compute how fast a horse ran taking into account track conditions as a means of comparing horses from different tracks and races.
18. VINO ROSSO (12-1)
Owner: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John Velazquez
Last race: 1st, Wood Memorial, Aqueduct Race Course
Fastest Bris speed figure: 102, Wood Memorial
Fastest Beyer speed figure: 98 Wood Memorial
Final fractions of last race: 12.81, 37.45
Why Vino Rosso can win
He came home fast enough in the Wood to comfortably "qualify" under the Final Fractions Theory. Two-time Derby winner John Velazquez picked him over Florida Derby winner Audible because he believes Vino Rosso will have more affinity for 1 1/4 miles. The $410,000 yearling is bred for the distance, being by Curlin and out of a mare by Street Cry, the sire of 2007 Derby winner Street Sense. With five races, he has good, solid experience, including a pair of races at 2. The Racing Gods are red wine drinkers.
Why he won't
He finished well, but the Wood was populated with horses who don't want to run that far. In one of the most dreadful draughts for a major Derby prep, the once-storied Wood Memorial hasn't had a horse in the top three of the Kentucky Derby since finishing 1-2 in 2003 with Funny Cide and Empire Maker. Derby lore is full of jockeys taking off the Derby winner to ride another horse (ask Chris McCarron, whose two winners came under those circumstances). The way he got drilled in two starts in Tampa, you have to wonder how good he is. He might not be better than stablemates Magnum Moon and Audible. Only Triple Crown winner American Pharoah has won the Derby in the past 72 years without previously being in a race with at least 10 horses. The Racing Gods are teetotalers.
St. Elias Stable, with its first starter, was partners in last year's Derby winner, Always Dreaming. On the other end of the spectrum, Mike Repole's 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo wound up scratching the day before the 2011 Derby. His three prior starters have been no better than 11th. Post 18 has produced a Derby winner in Gato Del Sol in 1982, with Nehro second in 2011.