Ahhhh… can you smell the fresh hay? Triple Crown season is my favorite time of the year. Why does a cat like me have this thing for horses? Could I have a case of hoof envy? I wouldn’t mind having a set, if they had claws.
The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, May 3 (beginning at 4 p.m. on NBC), and I’ve been poring over the contenders, searching for the next Triple Crown winner.
Unfortunately, Hopportunity has already been scratched because he just turned up with a sore left front leg, but if it heals he could turn up later to try for 2 out of 3 at the Preakness.
Wicked Strong is one of the human favorites, running in post position 19 with 6-1 odds. He was originally named Moyne Spun, but his owners started calling him Wicked Strong in 2012 after the Boston Marathon bombings. Of whatever he wins during Triple Crown season, 5% will be donated to a fund for the Marathon victims.
Personally, I think this is all too much pressure to lay on a horse, and Wicked has shown it by running a few disappointing races already this year, so I’m not betting my treats on him, but I wish him luck.
The odds-on human favorite is California Chrome, in post position 5 at 5-2, but he’s not my pick either.
To place or show, I’ll be rooting for Ride On Curlin, who will have the wily Calvin Borel in his saddle. This is sentimental, because Ride On is the son of Curlin, and he has Storm Cat in his family tree on his mom’s side. He’s finished no less than 3rd in 8 of his 9 previous races. He’ll be in post position 18 with odds of 15-1, but if 3-time Derby winner Borel can steer him to the rail, Ride On Curlin could make it.
My pick to win is Wildcat Red. He’ll be in pp 10 with jockey Luis Saez. Wildcat has won 4 of his 7 lifetime races, and has never finished farther back than 2nd. His odds are also 15-1.
One other horse I’ll be cheering with all paws crossed to place or show is Medal Count in pp 13 at 20-1 odds. He’s a distant cousin of the amazing Barbaro, who never recovered from his tragic freak accident in the 2006 Preakness, as well as Eight Belles (the filly ran 2nd to Big Brown in the 2008 Kentucky Derby, only to fracture both front ankles and get put to sleep right on the track, I still have nightmares.)
May all the horses and jockeys cross the finish line safely.