Mucciolo: Three lessons I learned during Kentucky Derby weekend

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May 4th, 2021

Another fantastic Kentucky Derby weekend in the books, where exciting and memorable racing took place at Churchill Downs. We got to witness some of the top horses in the country perform, both males and females, on both the turf and dirt, with some pulsating finishes at the wire.

I did not have a profitable two-day run, as some horses that I fancied didn’t run to expectations, and my wagering on a whole was not on point, either. But with every failure, there is knowledge to be gained. Below are a trio of things that I will store in my memory bank for future use.

RELATED: Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit faces stiff Triple Crown challenge

Baffert Can Never Be Dismissed

One would think by now I would have learned this lesson, but unfortunately, I am a slow study. I have backed contenders from the barn of the living legend on multiple occasions in the past, but I was not especially fond of Medina Spirit leading up to the race. His Brisnet Late Pace figures were on the low side, and my feeling was that the colt was more of a second-tier type. Baffert is an expert at leading a horse up to a big contest, especially the Derby, and I will not overlook his charges again.

Don’t Judge A Horse By One Race

I had Mandaloun ranked second for much of the spring on my Kentucky Derby Top 10 list, but I discarded him following his subpar performance in the Louisiana Derby (G2). If I had drawn a line through his dud at Fair Grounds, the Juddmonte homebred might have been my top selection at a huge price in the Run for the Roses. The fact that Brad Cox still pointed for the Derby following a poor effort should have been enough to tilt me in his direction.

The Payouts Can Be Spectacular When Least Expected

In the Churchill Downs S. (G1) on Saturday, second-choice Flagstaff was valiant in victory to notch his much deserved first Grade 1 trophy. The John Sadler-trained seven-year-old has been a high-quality performer for a couple of years and always gives his best.

Third-choice and fan favorite Whitmore was a close third at 5-1. And while the two longest shots on the board in the well-matched field, runner-up Lexitonian and Grade 1 winner Hog Creek Hustle, occupied a pair of the top-four slots, never did I expect the $1 superfecta return to be $405,179.50.

That is a mind boggling payoff, and it shows what is possible when betting into massive pools. It’s worth betting every race during Derby weekend.