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Oldham county resident Dr. Jeff Allen has been involved in the thoroughbred business as a parking lot attendant and usher at Churchill Downs as well as a hotwalker, groom and now owner of racehorses.
One of his annual traditions is to put out a Kentucky Derby analysis for friends and family. Notable victories by his top selection include Monarchos, Fusaichi Pegasus, Barbaro and Street Sense.
This year he has a real rooting interest in Santiva, because three years ago he purchased a daughter of one of his top selections – Fusaichi Pegasus – and named her Tante Mausie. Tante Mausie is Santiva’s half sister and foaled a filly by Giacomo on April 28. Tante Mausie was named in honor of his grandmother’s nickname in Germany.
Uncle Mo – He would have been the overwhelming favorite had he won the Wood Memorial. Instead he lost by 1 ½ lengths and Pletcher and Repole are answering questions and making excuses. He has had gastrointestinal malady and trouble in the month leading up to the derby is never good. Still he is a very fast horse and his presence will be felt. If he is back at 100 percent will win. At worst he will pressure the front-runners into submission.
Dialed In – This is a very fast horse and one of the few in the field bred to go long on dirt. Trainer Zito has two past wins and has been eyeing the derby since this colt broke his maiden at Churchill impressively. If there is a hot pace early on, he will win provided he doesn’t encounter too many traffic problems. It’s hard to bet on the favorite in such a well-matched field, but he appears the most likely winner.
Archarcharch – He also is one of the few horses bred to go long on the dirt. Archarcharch shares the same sire as Blame, who upset Zenyatta at Churchill last fall in the Breeders Cup Classic. Nice guy Jinx Fires trains him, but a minor foot ailment derby week is never good. “No foot, no horse,” is a common racetrack saying. If he can get over the ouchies he deserves a bet, at least in the exotics. The Arkansas Derby is progressively becoming a key derby prep and he won it.
Comma To The Top – He’ll be a pace factor but doubtful little else. The trainer voted not to come to Kentucky after finishing second in Santa Anita, where the top three choices were scratched due to injury, but the owners vetoed that and here he is. Pass.
Toby’s Corner – This horse is sired by a beaten derby favorite (Bellamy Road) out of a mare whose sire what a beaten derby favorite (Mr. Frisky). He is always on the board and upset Uncle Mo last out. Worth a shot in the exactas but unlikely to win based on his family connections.
Pants On Fire – He was a designated “rabbit” in his last race, but to everyone’s surprise he held on and won. He has the services of Ukrainian female jockey Rosie Napravnik who is having an amazingly good spring.
Mucho Macho Man has beaten him 2 out of 3 and was coming in the loss with three shoes on. A pace factor only.
Midnight Interlude – He was a maiden in February but has strung together two good races. His Santa Anita Derby win was impressive as he reeled in the weaving and bobbing Comma To The Top. The Santa Anita Derby seems to carry an asterisk because so many of the horses pointed for that race were injured. Baffert is good at winning the Derby and he is a physically imposing specimen, but he is a third stringer for Bob and likely lacks the seasoning to win.
Soldat – He appears to have to have the lead to win and he did not like dirt in his face in the Florida Derby. It is unlikely that he can go wire to wire and will contribute to a fast early pace.
Brillant Speed – He came home like a freight train in the Bluegrass Stakes on Keeneland’s synthetic surface. Although he is bred for turf, his sire Dynaformer has been one of the most influential sires of his generation and counts Barbaro as one of his sons. His only two races on dirt were abysmal – he was beaten 19 and 21 lengths. However he was young and they were sprints. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him rolling down the stretch if he handles the dirt.
Master Of Hounds – He has never raced on dirt and has only a maiden win to his credit. He has journeyed from UAE, which is never easy on a horse. He is impeccably bred and lots of folks are talking about him, but it seems like a lot to overcome.
Twice The Appeal – It’s hard to count out Calvin Borel since he has won three of the past four derbies. This horse seems a cut below the rest, though. He could have been claimed (purchased) for $30,000 three months ago and is bred to be a sprinter. I may regret it, Calvin, but the luck stops here.
Nehro - like Dialed In, he is a son of Mineshaft and should like the distance. He was closing on Archarcharch in the Arkansas Derby and is in capable hands. A rapid pace helps his chances and if he doesn’t encounter traffic problems he could be a factor.
Mucho Macho Man - The Village People are pulling for him. He is a youngster, not even 3 years old yet biologically. He is a huge horse and his trainer and her transplanted heart would make great headlines. He is one of the few stalkers in the race and that should help him. In his last race he lost a shoe and he still ran creditably. He will be a big price and is a lively long shot.
Decisive Moment – He is a solid horse who usually runs well. He has caught the eye of many on the backside and seems to be blooming at the right time. He is remotely bred which usually doesn’t help.
Animal Kingdom – He was an easy winner of the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park on the polytrack. His trainer is well respected and wouldn’t come to the derby without a decent chance. He has never run on a dry dirt track and is lightly raced. Others seem more likely.
Stay Thirsty – He is the stablemate of Uncle Mo, sharing the same owner and trainer. He has not been sharp recently and doesn’t have much of a chance unless he shows significant improvement.
Santiva – If you throw out his last race he is very competitive and he will be a huge long shot. His running style might fit and he is well bred for the distance. He has some fickle connections – 5 jockeys and 3 trainers in a six-race career. He won’t get my money but I will be cheering him on because I own his sister.
Watch Me Go – backwards.
Shackleford – He is a local horse that set the pace in the Florida Derby. He will be part of the early pace scenario and may well be the one to hang on when its said and done, but more likely will be passed in the stretch.
Twinspired – He has a great name for a derby winner and is bred to win it. He ran 8th of 12 in his one dirt start and may be up against it here.
Jeff’s Picks are Dialed In, Brilliant Speed, Mucho Macho Man and Archarcharch.
The views expressed in this column are those of the writer. While not at the track, Dr. Allen practices general surgery and specializes in the fields of laparoscopy and bariatrics. He is a graduate of Ballard High School, Centre College, and the University of Louisville School of Medicine. E-mail us about this column at firstname.lastname@example.org.