Admittedly, Patrick demonstrated that he has genius qualities about him; he touted Barbaro since the horse was foaled somewhere in Kentucky. Although Barbaro was bet down to single digits in the first futures pool, Patrick could hold his winning ticket that he had purchased back in February and announce to all of New Jersey and anyone else who would listen, "I'm king of the world!" Which is a common phrase used on the New Jersey turnpikes, so I've heard.
Since it is only mid-February and the Derby is not until ... March ... April ... May, only horses with double digit odds considered. I had cast aside favorites such as Nobiz Like Shobiz and Street Sense because there was not enough value at this time of year. The first one that caught my eye was Notional (In Excess)... morning line of 15-1 and currently ... 37-1????? There must have been something wrong with the toteboard because I was pretty sure that he had just won the Risen Star (gr. III) at the Fair Grounds yesterday after shipping in from California where he had previously won the San Rafael (gr. II) easily by 4 lengths. Huh. By the way, he's trained by Doug O'Neill who's been successful on the Derby trail before. Not to mention that he had his picture taken with a famous Texan horse racing fan, Joe Coker. (Note to Doug: Don't wear the orange tie on Derby Day).
I've been a fan of Great Hunter (Aptitude) since last year. He already has a solid foundation as a 2-year-old. His morning line of 30-1 was enough to make Steve Haskin and/or James Joyce cough up a fur ball. Jim Mulvihill, a Texas racing handicapper and blogger who claims to have the first Texas racing blog in the history of the internet, touts him as well. And of course there is my "home" bias: he broke is maiden at Lone Star Park. And the future odds were desireable at 25-1. And once again, there's Doug O'Neill, with or without an orange tie.
Ravel (Fusaichi Pegasus) is a serious contender. His win in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) was impressive. I had read in Friday's edition of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that Gary West had him winning the Derby. However, genius Alan, made a very astute observation,
You would think that the Sham would be a good early indication of who could get the Derby distance, but the last three winners, Bob and John, Going Wild, and Master David, all fared quite poorly at Churchill.Future odds at 10-1, I decided that my final two bucks needed to land on something longer.
As I was pondering my final decision, the old-timer next to me chuckled and said, "I like Street Sense. He's trained by Carl Nafzger who used to be associated with a little old lady who owned some horses ... I knew her. She's dead now, but she was a fine lady."
Aaah. The sentimental angle. Of course he was referring to Frances Genter and her Derby horse, Unbridled.
So, the final wager future wager was sentimental: Swale Stakes (gr. II) winner, Adore the Gold (Formal Gold). Adore the Gold reminds me of one of my favorite horses, Afleet Alex. The humble beginnings of Delaware races - he even broke his maiden with Jeremy Rose on board. The tragic story behind this colt: The death of breeder Dan Mallory in the Comair crash last summer. And as it turns out, Mallory had been on his way to Lone Star Park when he was killed. Spooky. Granted, the Swale has never provided a Derby winner, but at 38-1, I decided to put a couple of bucks on a first time.
So, I'm in the pool. Losing tickets may not be used as a flotation device.