The First Saturday in May – My Pick

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 by Cass Chappell, CFP®



It has been called “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” and, of course, “The Run for The Roses”.  The Kentucky Derby is my favorite sporting event of the year and a GREAT EXCUSE TO WEAR A SEERSUCKER SUIT!


My success in picking the actual winner has been rocky, at best.  I attended my first Derby in 1993 and haven’t missed one since.  For several years I doubted that I would ever cash a ticket on the winner, but that all changed in 2006 with Barbaro.  Ridden by my favorite jockey, Edgar Prado, I had been pulling for Barbaro well in advance of the 132nd edition of the greatest horse race in the world.



That win snapped my 0 for 13 losing streak.

The following year brought Street Sense.  I had him too.  Two in a row!  My fortunes had changed and I was convinced that I was poised to pick the winner each and every year from now on.

Last year, Kentucky Derby 134, brought me back down to earth.  I went with Pyro. Big Brown ROLLED.

(On a side note: I went to the Belmont Stakes, convinced that I was about to see Big Brown win the first triple crown since Affirmed in 1978.  That didn’t work out too well…)

This year, I am going with……

#13 – I Want Revenge


 I Want Revenge, coincidentally, has the same connections as Big Brown.  Even though that fact alone makes me nervous (two years in a row for the same ownership team?), I still think he is just too good.

The young hotshot of Animal Planet’s “Jockeys” show, Joe Talamo, takes the reigns in the biggest race of his life.


Why I think he will win

  • He has the highest lifetime Beyer speed figure (113) in the field, by far.
  • The horse had an incredibly difficult trip in its last race, the Wood Memorial, but was able to post and impressive last to first win. This experience should come in handy in a 20 horse field that is traditionally crowded around the turns.


  • The Louisville Courier Journal came up with an interesting predictor of Derby success several years ago. In a horse’s final 1 1/8 mile prep race, he should run the final eighth in under 13 seconds and the final 3/8 in under 38 seconds. This is a measure of stamina. In the Wood, I Want Revenge ran his last 1/8 in 11.91 and the last 3/8 in 36.37. Only Hold Me Back ran both of those distances faster in his final prep.


  • I Want Revenge posted a BULLET workout (fastest of the day) on Tuesday, working 4 furlongs in 41.2 seconds – the fastest of 49 other horses.


Who I am fearful of


#16 – Pioneer of the Nile

  • Career best Beyer of 96. Not fast enough??
  • Trainer Baffert has won three Derbies and he is talking a good game.
  • Never raced on dirt before. Can he handle the Churchill Downs dirt track?
  • Garrett Gomez, the best jockey in America, chose this horse over Dunkirk.


#15 – Dunkirk

  • Only three lifetime races. But Big Brown was lightly raced too. Look how that turned out?
  • How long can trainer Todd Pletcher’s drought at the Derby last?
  • Edgar Prado is onboard. I hate to bet against MY MAN!
  • His Tomlinson Figure for 1 ¼ miles is only 281. I Want Revenge is 331 and Pioneer Of The Nile is 328. The higher the better.


#6 – Friesan Fire

  • Larry Jones charge comes out of a good post position (6) and is fresh after posting a bullet workout of his own on Monday. This was very similar to two other horses Larry Jones trained for the Derby recently: Hard Spun – second in 2007, and Eight Belles – second in 2008.
  • He has shown the ability to run well on an off track. Could it be soft on Derby Day?


#7 – Papa Clem

  • Could he be peaking at the right time?
  • Winner of the Arkansas Derby.
  • Upward Beyer speed figure trend.


Post time is 6:24 (coverage begins at 4 pm on NBC).

Hopefully, at 6:26 I will be enjoying a tall frosty Mint Julep while celebrating the victory of I Want Revenge.




I Want Revenge scratched from the Kentucky Derby early on Saturday morning with some slight lameness.  My official Derby pick then became Dunkirk (at about 6-1 odds).  Mine That Bird pulled off a MAJOR UPSET at over 50-1 odds….on to Baltimore and the Preakness.

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