My annual cat-on-horse crush begins with the Kentucky Derby, and there’s stiff competition for my affections.
I was all set to root for the home team, a Virginia-bred horse named Quality Road, but a quarter crack in his hoof got him scratched, to be replaced by Join in the Dance (at odds 50-1).
I Want Revenge with jockey Joe Talamo is favored to win 3-1, but he’s got a lot of baggage. He’s running from (unlucky?) 13th post position. His trainer, Jeff Mullins, was recently caught and suspended 7 days (beginning May 3 so he can attend the Derby) for illegally medicating another horse before an Aqueduct race. And Big Brown’s former owners, wacky IEAH stables, own a piece of Revenge.
Pioneerof the Nile with jockey Garrett Gomez has 4-1 odds, even though he out-ran Revenge in 2 previous races. Of all the horses I’m watching, Pioneer will be farthest to the outside, at post position 16 in a field of 20.
I’m interested in a couple of jockeys for sentimental reasons. Dunkirk, also at 4-1 odds, will be carrying Barbaro’s former jockey, Edgar Prado. Hold Me Back (15-1) will be under Kent Desormeaux, who won last year’s Derby with Big Brown.
But my Derby pick is an underdog named General Quarters and jockey Julien Leparoux. The General’s odds are 20-1, but he looked good winning the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland a few weeks ago, beating both Join in the Dance and Hold Me Back. Eibar Coa rode him at Keeneland, so I hope a new jockey doesn’t bother him.
General Quarters is the only horse owned and trained by 75-year-old Thomas McCarthy, who plans to retire whenever his General does. McCarthy bought the horse for a piddly $20,000, where Dunkirk sold for $3.7 million.
At post position 12, the General will be next to I Want Revenge. Let’s hope there’s no hanky-panky.
I want to see this spunky kid from the ‘hood make good and have his shot at the Triple Crown.
Go, General Quarters!