Is My Boy Jack a True Kentucky Derby Contender?

handicapper Justin Dewby Justin Dew

If the prospect of using My Boy Jack in your Kentucky Derby exotics after his close-fast-and-then-flatten-out effort in the Louisiana Derby was appealing to you, are you at all concerned by the extra race they’re giving him in Saturday’s Lexington Stakes? Let’s just say he runs 2nd, picks up 8 points, and makes the Kentucky Derby field with a total of 40 points. What you are dealing with is a horse who was essentially given an extra prep race as a desperation measure, not because the horse needed additional conditioning or experience.

This isn’t a Don’t Get Mad situation, where a horse needs one more prep, not points/dollars. This is a blatant attempt to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, and it’s hard to imagine this race was on the schedule for My Boy Jack when they drew up their path to the Derby months ago. And how much should we like him to begin with? I suppose we can chalk up his non-factor-3rd in the Sham to that race being his first start on dirt. And based on how he’s run since, he may have been too close that day.

In the Southwest he ran big, but may have taken advantage of a rail that was the place to be, and it didn’t appear that he minded the slop. Still, a win is a win. And there are two ways we can look at his effort in the Louisiana Derby. He closed fast and wide, but also totally stopped in the final 1/16th. So to me, he is a Kentucky Derby superfecta filler at best.

That being said…..

….if he effortlessly romps at Keeneland, that could tell us he’s in good form for connections that have Triple Crown experience and know how to get a horse ready to run big. And we know My Boy Jack likes the slop. What if it rains on Derby Day?

Or, what if My Boy Jack runs 3rd in the Lexington and renders this entire discussion moot?

Another horse to watch this weekend is Dream Baby Dream, the Sunland Derby runner-up. He’s listed as probable for the Arkansas Derby, and with 20 Derby points so far, a 3rd-place effort should land him in the starting gate at Churchill Downs, while at the same time flattering Runaway Ghost, the Sunland Derby winner. He’s a little light on speed figures so far, but could be on the improve for trainer Steve Asmussen. He reminds me a lot of horses like Golden Soul and Commanding Curve. Which is to say he probably isn’t as talented as most of the Kentucky Derby contenders, but just might be among the few still running at the top of the Churchill stretch. I’d love to see this horse run 3rd on Saturday and come to Louisville under the radar at 40-1. Plus it would give me added confidence in Runaway Ghost, who is still on my short list of top Kentucky Derby longshot prospects.

Who’s a 2018 Kentucky Derby Contender According to Dew

Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

by Justin Dew

Even though there are still four hugely important Kentucky Derby prep races to be run, I have already made some key decisions about my Derby Day wagering. That’s not to say I can’t go back and change my mind later. It’s possible that the upcoming prep races will change everything. But things are definitely starting to take shape.

Gulfstream Park horse toteThere is a 0% chance that Mendelssohn makes a prominent appearance on my tickets. I don’t care that he is related to Beholder, nor do I care that he allegedly earned a huge Beyer Speed Figure in winning the UAE Derby. That racetrack was a conveyor belt, and that race had to take a lot out of him. I think he will be over-bet based on the margin of victory and the track record time. If he is a freak of nature and runs huge in Louisville, then I will tip my cap and tear up my tickets. I am definitely glad that he is coming to America, and there is no doubt that he is a very exciting racehorse. I’ll even go a step further and say that I’d like to see the Coolmore people win the Kentucky Derby someday. But Mendelssohn is a bet against for me.

How much did we really learn about Audible from his Florida Derby win? I had him ranked very high before the race, and he certainly did not disappoint. But with the insane early pace, and with Catholic Boy apparently bleeding, he almost had no choice but to win. I am clearly not going to fault him for winning, but we can expect to see much lower odds in the Kentucky Derby based on how visually impressive he was in the Florida Derby. Obviously I still think he is a major threat to win the Kentucky Derby, but I am far less excited about betting on him than I was previously.

And speaking of the Florida Derby, if Hofburg runs in the Kentucky Derby, I have a strange feeling he is going to become the wiseguy horse. Everyone will start talking about how he will love a mile and a quarter and is just learning what the racing game is all about, and how Bill Mott is the greatest trainer in history and blah blah blah. But just like Audible, Hofburg benefited from the blazing early fractions and passed a bunch of horses that were stopping and/or bleeding. I actually thought Mississippi ran a fantastic race, but I don’t think he will have enough points to make the Kentucky Derby starting gate. It sounds like Promises Fulfilled will continue on to Louisville, where I see him finishing somewhere between ninth and 16th.

Perhaps the most significant Kentucky Derby development this weekend was the announcement that McKinzie is injured and will miss his start in the Santa Anita Derby. I’ll have more to say about him later this week, but suffice it to say I was looking forward to betting against him in Kentucky also.

There are a few horses who have already made their final prep that I would like to discuss. Noble Indy doesn’t do it for me, and based on what I’m reading he doesn’t do it for many other people either. I have a feeling Jon Velazquez will end up on Audible instead of this guy. Bravazo is interesting to me. Let’s see how he trains at Churchill Downs. And Runaway Ghost didn’t look like a horse who will have trouble with the Derby distance when he won at Sunland. I can see him closing late for a big piece of the Derby pie.

handicappers Dew Justin Rich NilsenLots to look forward to this weekend. It seems as if the Blue Grass Stakes is shaping up as an absolute battle. And it will feature the horse who I think is the most likely winner of the Kentucky Derby.

 

— Editor’s Note: I got to know Justin Dew (left) when he was the official blogger for the very official Kentucky Derby website.  He’s an amazing father and fantastic gambler.  Just ask him.  He’ll tell you.  Welcome aboard, Justin!