2017 Kentucky Derby one-liners
After all of the homework gearing up for Kentucky Derby (G1) 143, I’ve come up with a one-line encapsulation of my thoughts, or gut instincts, for each contender.
#1 Lookin at Lee uncorks consistently strong, sustained moves and would have been closer to Classic Empire in the Arkansas Derby (G1) if he hadn’t been steered and re-steered all over the track.
#2 Thunder Snow is the best Godolphin runner to try this race, today’s 2000 Guineas (G1) result underscored quality of his form, but tactical type needs luck not to get shuffled back and buried from post 2.
#3 Fast and Accurate is up against it by any known measure, and the only positive spin is that he’s an improving sort with a good attitude and likely gets stamina from broodmare sire Green Dancer.
#4 Untrapped has a bit of a sneaky look as a colt who was rock-solid reliable until the blinker experiment backfired in the Arkansas Derby, and a return to business as usual puts him in the mix.
#5 Always Dreaming could take this by storm if repeating his Florida Derby (G1), but concerned about his being too rank in recent training.
#6 State of Honor has continued to progress as he strengthens up in his giant frame, although his string of placings suggests he’s more of a fringe exotics player at best.
#7 Girvin had the misfortune of battling a recent quarter-crack, or else the stylish Risen Star (G2) winner, and less stylish, lugging-in Louisiana Derby (G2) winner, would have been a player.
#8 Hence is a serious chance if his Sunland Derby (G3) form can be literally, but slight scruple if that was a case of his jumping up while notable rivals didn’t put their best foot forward.
#9 Irap appeared to get brave when launching an early bid in the Blue Grass (G2), implying his prior inability to finish off his races may have been more mental immaturity than physical.
#10 Gunnevera was a better-than-appears third in the Florida Derby (G1), an effort reminiscent of his Breeders’ Futurity (G1) stepping stone en route to a breakout in Delta Downs Jackpot (G3).
#11 Battle of Midway deserved a medal for his gameness in the Santa Anita Derby (G1), but more brilliant horses have been tripped up by the “Apollo curse,” and he looks like one for the future.
#12 Sonneteer is putting it all together at the right time, and wouldn’t it just be the ultimate conclusion to a roller-coaster 2017 Derby trail for a maiden to pull it off or hit the board?
#13 J Boys Echo needs everything to unfold to his liking, but if so, the Gotham (G3) winner can produce a big performance at big odds.
#14 Classic Empire proved he’s still the champ by overcoming what might have been a problematic Arkansas Derby (G1) passage, but he has to take another step forward and get away cleanly here.
#15 McCraken has been my number 1 all year, thanks to his smooth and polished way of going, and every indication since his Blue Grass tune-up is that he’s sitting on a monster effort.
#16 Tapwrit looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the far turn of the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and with his Blue Grass shaping as a “let’s not keep him idle like we did with Destin,” he’s eligible to fire here.
#17 Irish War Cry has been unbeatable other than his flame-out in the Fountain of Youth, showed good resolve to put away a stubborn Battalion Runner in the Wood (G2), and appears to click with Rajiv Maragh.
#18 Gormley didn’t have to finish fast to take a Santa Anita Derby that was falling apart, but the key is that they’ve found his correct running style, and he could continue to improve here.
#19 Practical Joke is always thereabouts, which makes him a logical exotics play even if he doesn’t give the vibe of a horse who’s as effective at a classic distance.
#20 Patch has a great deal of upside off his commendable second in the Louisiana Derby, where he had to wait to go around sputtering stablemate Monaco, but he has the Apollo curse as a millstone.
McCraken photo courtesy Rickelle Nelson/Horsephotos.com