A Cat’s Kentucky Derby Picks

By Fred

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!


7 Responses to A Cat’s Kentucky Derby Picks

  1. Adele says:

    Fred, I’ve been waiting with baited breath to see your Derby pick, and I’d intended to go to an OTB and put down $10 to win on whomever you chose. But a friend of mine is having surgery tomorrow,and I’m having her and some other folks over for dinner tomorrow night. My sister lives near an OTB facility, but she says, “You want me to spend a couple of hours at the Off Track Betting to put down money on a horse that that a cat picked??? Are you crazy?” Here’s hoping for the General.

  2. catsworking says:

    Adele, if the General wins, your sister will be kicking herself and you can say, “I told you so.”

    I was impressed with I Want Revenge and Pioneerof the Nile in their last races, but when I saw General Quarters a week later, he struck me as the horse with real heart who should win, so I’ve got all my paws crossed for his success today, which is making it really hard to type.

    This morning’s paper suggested Advice as a long shot to win. His jockey used to be Garrett Gomez, but Gomez chose to ride Pioneer in the Derby instead, so that tells you something.

    The weather may be rainy today, making the track a soupy mess. I’m thinking that can only work in favor of the scrappier horses who aren’t picky about what they run on.

    Let’s just pray that they all make it to the finish line safe and sound. With 20 horses out there in slippery mud, it could get dicey.

  3. Adele says:

    Ditto on all the horses making it around the track safely. After seeing a horse (can’t remember her name) euthanized on the track last year, I kind of watch all races with one hand ready to cover my eye. I just looked at my comment above, and realized that I said a friend was having surgery, today — it’s Monday. This woman is made of sturdy stuff, but no one, unless the surgery was incredibly minor, would make it to a dinner party the same day as surgery.

    Alice and I will be in front of the TV this afternoon. I’m trying to convince her to stand with me for the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home.”

  4. Adele says:

    Fred, thought you’d like to see what Salon had to say about the Derby pick. This was part of a much longer article about the closing of small regional racetracks.

    Salon Derby Pick: DUNKIRK. It’s true that no horse has won the Kentucky Derby without running as a 2-year-old since 1882. But last year, Big Brown proved that a lightly raced horse can beat more seasoned competition. Dunkirk made the most explosive move I’ve seen all year on the second turn in the Florida Derby. He couldn’t sustain his rally, but the horse who beat him was Quality Road, who is the best of this year’s 3-year-old class and would be the Derby favorite if he hadn’t been withdrawn because of a quarter crack. Dunkirk has the second-highest Beyer Speed Figure in the field and stands to improve on Saturday. I will bet Dunkirk to win, with exacta savers of I Want Revenge and Friesan Fire over Dunkirk.

  5. catsworking says:

    Adele, the scratching of I Want Revenge at the last minute was a boost to all the Derby contenders, although it robbed Pioneerof the Nile of his chance to wipe the track with Revenge for a THIRD time.

    I was very mortified that General Quarters ended up finishing in the middle of the pack, coming in 10th, but he beat BOTH Dunkirk AND Friesan Fire who, along with Pioneer and Papa Clem, I believe were named the 4 favorites going in.

    On the other hand, I’m delighted that a nobody little gelding named Mine That Bird came out of nowhere to take the race in what they said was the second longest lead in Derby history. I’ll be watching what he does next. Haven’t seen yet whether he’ll be running in the Preakness.

    I say “gelding out of nowhere,” but Mine was picked the top 2-year-old in Canada last year.

    However, none of these horses has really won my heart the way Big Brown and Barbaro did. I’m not seeing much personality in any of them.

    BTW, the filly you’re referring to who died at last year’s Derby after coming in 2nd to Brownie was Eight Belles.

    And what ever happened to Barbaro’s little brother, Nicanor? After losing that initial race months ago, I lost track of him.

    Next year, Barbaro’s other brother, Lentenor, should be comng along. Let’s hope he’s a chip off the old block.

  6. Adele says:

    Fred, my sister called me to gloat immediately after the race. I could see the appeal of General Quarters, and watching him walk out, he seemed to have a fair amount of personality — maybe the change in jockeys was too much for him. On the other hand, I like the idea of a 50-1 horse winning the Derby. Don’t we both wish we’d had money on Mine The Bird.

  7. catsworking says:

    But I bet your sister didn’t have a bet on Mine That Bird either!

    That’s what I love about horse racing. They’re as unpredictable as cats!

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