Racing fans get so much information about horses in the Kentucky Derby that it’s easy to overthink.
I’ve never felt so stupid as I did after the 2002 Derby, in which one of the entrants possessed a vastly superior Beyer Speed Figure plus a change of trainers to one of the best in the business. Such qualifications should have made him look like a standout. But I somehow ignored War Emblem and his new trainer Bob Baffert. When he paid $43 to win, I vowed I’d never again overlook the basics if a similar situation ever arose.
In Saturday’s Derby, there is a colt whose most recent speed figure towers over his rivals’ and whose running style ought to give him a significant tactical advantage. I’m not going to be distracted by any handicapping subtleties. I’m betting on Goldencents.
The colt proved his merit in the Santa Anita Derby when he faced two formidable Baffert-trained rivals, Super Ninety Nine and Flashback. Baffert had decided that Super Ninety Nine needed the early lead to be effective, so the speedster set an aggressive pace, running a half mile in 46.48 seconds, while Goldencents pressed him. When Goldencents disposed of the leader, the favorite Flashback made his move — but Goldencents resisted the challenge and pulled away to win by 1 ¼ lengths.