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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Degrees of Separation 4.0

It's that time of the year again, where we post our Degrees of Separation blog on this year's Derby contenders.  As in the past, we separate the contenders from the pretenders, using imprecise data, gut feels and just plain old humor (of a lack thereof) to give you our thoughts from the Space Station.

It's always amusing to look back at our past editions of the Degrees. You can find the 2011, 2010 and 2009 entries at each of the respective links. We'll take a few minutes to review some of my better (and really bad) quotes from past Degrees of Separation posts.


Mine That Bird: "Slowest of the slow"  (Now that was a good one!)
Musket Man: "His efforts looking better and better with time." (Good call)


Super Saver: "Really warming up to this one. Pletcher's best chance to wear the roses. Sports Monarchos' sire, his damsire is A.P. Indy, so he has the pedigree AND the King of Churchill in the irons. Dangerous." (Don't say so myself)
Ice Box:  "If there's a pace meltdown, he will be around to claim a prize." (Make that an ice cold exacta., baby)
Make Music For Me: "He hits the board, I'll eat my 2006 Derby hat."  (Lunch was almost served....finished fourth!)


Animal Kingdom: "Really loved his move in the Vinery Spiral Stakes, but he looks more like a dynamite turf horse than a Derby champ." (Oops)
Shackleford: "Really would have loved to see him in the Preakness versus the Derby, hope the race doesn't wreck him, looks like a monster." (Bingo)
Nehro: "Reminds me of having Jackson Bend's seconditis and the late run of Gayego's Arkansas Derby, both turned out to not be Classic winners. Will he prove me wrong?"  (Nope, second place)

So, not so bad...and somewhat amusing when looking back on my ramblings post-race.  Ok, enough of the comes your 2012 Degrees of Separation for Kentucky Derby 138! We'll keep them in some of the divisions you've seen in the past, so sit back and enjoy... 

The AMC Gremlin Division: My dad bought my mom an American Motors Corporation (AMC) Gremlin (see inset for a picture of the bad ass 1971 Gremlin X) back in the 70s and it was a thing of beauty. Bright red, sleek gold stripes, the works. Problem just wasn't fast. Surely it wasn't your average sports car or whatnot. These are the horses that represent this division, and qualify as my throw-outs:

Done Talking: Sorry Chicago followers and friends, the Illinois Derby champ already won his trophy. Ok, I'm done talking about this horse.

Trinniberg: See you in the King's Bishop, sport.

Prospective: I'm partial to the Canadian connections, but this horse would have trouble in one of those hot dog races at Milwaukee County Stadium. Bet the bratwurst.

Sabercat: This is a total jinx on my part. His daddy beat me in two of the 2006 TC races by placing in both. Don't be surprised if I play a couple of place tickets on him as a reverse-jinx tactic, but not on any of my main tickets.

Liaison: Cool name, slow horse. Think he's this year's Gayego...a miler maybe? He's a toss for me.

The Pamela Anderson Divison: This is the spot where horses have made it to the Derby starting gate by winning on the faux dirt and will most likely not make due on the real stuff under the Twin Spires. [Editor Note: Animal Kingdom was placed in this division last year]

Dullahan: Winner of the Blue Grass Stakes (polytrack) and big buzz horse. While I respect him, and will have him underneath (a la Paddy O'Prado circa 2010) he's not going to win the Derby.

Went The Day Well: Hopefully not the de ja vous division -- can lightning strike twice with the Team Valor connex? If it does, my day won't be going very well.

Daddy Long Legs: Qualified in Dubai on the Tapeta. Swatting him off my ticket. If the Pholcus phalangioides happens to win, I'm sure I'll have a mild burning sensation in my skin for a few seconds.

The George Costanza Human Fund Division: These will be the horses that taking in a lot of money and have a little (or lot of) hype, but will be unmasked in the Derby and will not be a factor.

Mark Valeski: Just like Pants on Fire last year, Rosie will garner some action at the windows from the female set. She'll get more prime time than Mel Kiper during draft week as she tries again to become the first female jockey to win the Derby.

Union Rags: He could actually be the favorite, but I'm hesitant about his chances. The bandwagon is loaded, but not sure they have all the instruments. Taking a stand against.

Take Charge Indy: The Florida Derby winner had a perfect rail trip and has the ever present Calvin Borel in the irons, which will draw lots of cash from the casual bettor due to his recent success in the Derby over the past five years. I hope he has a horrible post draw so he doesn't make me look bad later.

The Afleet Alex Divison: Horses that won't win the Derby, but will have to be respected and could hit the board. Also, we think they could be a potential Classic winner down the road in either the Preakness Stakes or the Belmont Stakes.

Hansen: The 2-year old champion is perfect for the Preakness, let's hope he gets a clean trip in the Derby, and contends so he'll keep it going in Baltimore (see Shackleford). I interviewed owner Doc Hansen for The Buffalo News and he certainly thinks his colt can get the distance.

Rousing Sermon: Seems more suited for the longer distance (hello, Belmont) and wouldn't be surprised if he grabbed a piece of the tri or super at a decent price.

The Brett Favre Division: The horses that are bound for this division are those I just can't make up my mind out as we sit one week out from the Run for the Roses. Include them, exclude them....indecision has set in.

Creative Cause: I'm in. I'm out. I'm in. I'm out. Solid pedigree, strong west coast horses this year have me leaning towards including with my top horses.

El Padrino: Shaky last workout in the slop at Palm Meadows this morning, so-so effort in the Florida Derby. He's got me scratching my head. His pedigree is solid with Pulpit on top and Giant's Causeway as his damsire. The Toddster's streak ended two years ago, so maybe the Godfather will be his second.

Gemologist: The undefeated Tiznow colt has done nothing wrong and shouldn't have a problem with the classic distance. Something about him has me wondering...but he should be a nice price.

The Charlie Sheen Division: The horses I think have the best chance at...wait for it...winning!

I'll Have Another: I dig this horse. Shock therapy be damned.  His daddy, Flower Alley, had a troubled trip in the 2005 Derby and is a Travers winner and BC Classic runner-up (to Saint Liam). Could be my top pick - we'll see how he draws on Wednesday.

Daddy Nose Best: Had a premonition that he came roaring down the center of the track to win from behind due to the fast pace set by Trinniberg, Hansen and Bodemeister. Hope it comes true, cause he'll be double digits and on my main tickets.

Alpha: His late efforts in the Wood make him a win threat. A little worried he won't get a work over the Churchill strip, but Kiaran McLaughlin will have him ready. Improving speed figs and a daddy that won a Classic makes him a win contender in my book.

Bodemeister: With Baffert, Big Beyers and a Bodacious pedigree, how can you keep him off your tickets. My only worry is he gave his best effort one race too soon. He could be the most dangerous Triple Crown threat of the group.

That's a wrap on this year's degrees of separation. It always helps me to flesh out the field this way, as you can't bet 'em all, so this gives me a way to segragate my contenders versus my pretenders prior to the big day. Stay tuned...


Tony Bada Bing said...

My brother...thanks for confusing me further...

I'm with you on Bodemeister...think he's fast enough to break the jinx...

I'll Have Another - how much success do any current Left Coast trainers have - besides Baffert - leaving their comfy confines. I bet O'Neil, but I don't trust him on the big stage. How many wins did Lava Man have leaving Cally????

Anonymous said...

I'm liking I'll Have Another quite a bit right now, although Union Rags is still my top pick.

I love your Derby coverage...always end up coming on to see what you're saying during the Triple Crown season.

~Brian A.~

JB said...

Back in the saddle after a not so long winter, I'm ready for a very deep and competitive field to hit the high notes and claim a victory in racing's first rite of Spring. Churchill"s surface is unlike any other major course in the land. That said, I'm looking at the 2011 BC juvey as a key race in handicapping my picks. In short, Hasen cannot be overlooked. trinniberg be dammed this horse can flat out fly. He can relax an there is absolutely no hang in him. Union Rags can't be that unlucky, can he? Deserving favorite with gears and talent, I hope Le JL knows when to hit the gas and doesn't choose the 9path> Strangely, this horse reminds me a little of Forty Niner. Bode's speed figs cannot and will not be overlooked. Empire Makers son cruise at high rate of speed but hasn't shown the versatility of his old man. Still when BB names a horse after his only son I kind of think something is up. Gemologist is my mystery horse. Undefeated, he held off of compromised Alpha in the Wood. He ows a grade 2 over the track but he's never seen the likes of these. Dullahan is a horse i loved before the Blue Grass. Solid connections wouldn't trare places with anyone. But is he a bounce candidate after his monster burst at Keenland. Take Charge Indy is worthy of light coin just so I can say CB didn't beat me again. Creative Cause really had no excuses in the SA Derby. It makes me thing Paul reddam's I'll Have Another is a shade better this year. But Creative Cause on his best day can get a nose in front of this field. Now for the the intangibles... post positions (we no where the bad ones are), pace meltdown (took down Bellamy Road and took a triple crown away from Afleet Alex), track condition (CD can be quirky so I'm watching how legit speed and closers fare in day of races). wet = small horse/hoof advantage (see Mine that Bird), Mike Welsch is worthy (he watches derby horse hit the track for weeks leading up to the race so as Frasier Cranes says, "I'm listening). And last but not least it's a 20 horse stampede with 3 year olds running in front of 125,000 screaming fans. So I'll go back to my original point... the 2011 BC juvey is a key race.


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