In an ass-backwards sports year shorn of events, and fans, in stadia worldwide, very much including the 2020 Kentucky Derby, the Derby’s inimitable race day still brings its special load of clarity as we near the (virtual) window with our wallets. As we all know, Tiz The Law both brings and draws the lion’s share of the focus; he’s tough, and, after the Travers, he’s the man to beat. Whether and how he is beatable are the questions for Honor A.P. and Authentic, who, with Thousand Words, are today’s game and quite talented second-, third- and fourth-favorites.
Which brings us to this: Regardless of what actually happens late this afternoon in Louisville, Tiz The Law, Honor A.P., Authentic and the tapestry of other contenders are, despite all odds, bringing us a real horse race. We should be grateful for that fact, and for the fact that Churchill Downs has managed to draw its historically large boisterous, patchwork Derby field. At all. Mindful of the fact that everybody in the country has been through the grinder, with more of bad stuff likely en route, the Derby is the Derby, and it’s happening.
To walk us through the thrills and spills of actually putting money on this cast of characters — such as whether Authentic can do the distance, or whether Honor A.P. has the moxie to keep with Tiz The Law on the backstretch — we welcome the Bluegrass Wise Man ™, a Kentucky horsemen of renown who has been so generous to us with his horse sense in Triple Crown seasons past. But before we bring in the Wise Man, herewith, the Saturday Churchill odds in order of post position, horse, morning line, and live odds. We’ll update them all day, until post time.
(Post Position, Horse, (Morning Line), Live Odds)
1) Finnick The Fierce, (50-1) (scratched)
2) Max Player, (30-1), 15-1
3) Enforceable, (30-1), 21-1
4) Storm the Coast, (50-1), 21-1
5 ) Major Fed, (50-1), 29-1
6) King Guillermo, (20-1) (scratched)
7) Money Moves, (30-1), 14-1
8) South Bend, (50-1), 32-1
9) Mr. Big News, (50-1), 40-1
10) Thousand Words, (15-1), 9-1
11) Necker Island, (50-1), 39-1
12) Sole Volante, (30-1), 25-1
13) Attachment Rate, (50-1), 38-1
14) Winning Impression, (50-1), 38-1
15) NY Traffic, (20-1), 16-1
16) Honor AP, (5-1), 8-1
17) Tiz The Law, (3-5), 6-5
18) Authentic, (8-1), 9-1
(Source: Churchill Downs, 9/5/20)
With no further adieu, here’s the Bluegrass Wise Man on how we should be playing this most unusual Derby.
You’ve been liking Honor A.P. from the beginning, so let’s dive into pedigree: His momma is amazing.
Bluegrass Wise Man ™: Hollywood Story was a Grade I winner in her own right. She too was trained by John Shirreffs. She made 27 lifetime starts and all of them were in graded company. She broke her maiden in a Grade I.
Obviously, then, his namesake grandfather.
Bluegrass Wise Man ™: A.P. Indy is a breed shaper, the son of Seattle Slew out of Weekend Surprise who was by Secretariat. On both sides of his family he has Triple Crown winners in Slew and Secretariat. A.P. Indy is the grandfather of Tapit thus the great-grandfather of Tiz the Law. He has sired a filly that won the Belmont. He was a Breeders’ Cup Champion himself and was actually favored for the Derby but had a foot issue the week of that prevented him from running. He passed this year, so it would be quite fitting to see Honor A.P. in the winner’s circle.
Honor A.P.’s race history is kinda REAL short compared to that of Tiz The Law.
Bluegrass Wise Man ™: Cannot really answer why his races have been spaced out. Part of that has to do with Covid after March 7. “Big Money” Mike (Smith) on the workouts, which have been great. Mike said he was not pushed to hard prior to Shared Belief Stakes but has been since then. Because: Mike has been the workout rider.
Man, that is some exercise rider. Kinda makes you believe him.
Bluegrass Wise Man ™: Exactly. It’s Big Money Mike.
Let’s turn to the big man.
Bluegrass Wise Man ™: Tiz the Law is a badass and will be tough to beat, so he’s a deserving favorite, not simply one because there’s nobody else around. He’s already won at the Derby distance last month when he won the Travers at Saratoga. You could argue that his only defeat came at Churchill so that makes him vulnerable, a bit, but that loss was on an off track. It will be a fast track today. He’s not Justify, okay? You know, where you just stand back and sort of get out of the way. But he’s a very strong horse, and I don’t see that he’s facing any insurmountable problems.
Which brings us to Baffert, baby! What would a Derby be without one or two Bobs in there. Give us the skinny on Authentic
Bluegrass Wise Man ™: Authentic has won at a mile-and-an-eighth. Can he go another 220 yards is his question, but that is always the question for many. In this race, facing a tactical horse with the distance known to be in him in Tiz The Law, or even facing the second-favorite Honor A.P., the question is intensified. Can Authentic go another 220 yards up against a dominant closing runner like Tiz The Law. Get me? Very different question. I can also say this about Authentic’s pedigreed penchant for short distances: The average winning distance for the progeny of Into Mischief is just under 7 furlongs. The Derby is run at 10 furlongs.
Ouch. Any other bombs on the horizon?
I think you have to use Max Player in there. He has been 3rd to Tiz the Law in their last two races, I mean, he’s sitting in the odds just behind the favorites for a reason. But let me move back down in the odds to a co-favorite of Authentic’s and make a push for Thousand Words. You should remember that he beat Honor A.P. last time out. Thousand Words shares the same sire as American Pharaoh. He has simply got to be included.