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Kentucky Derby: Stabell’s shortlist
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Globeform editor and chief handicapper Geir Stabell gives his top five for the Kentucky Derby, and explains why it is – as he believes – quite an easy task to pick the top three plus two others.


He selected the 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos at 17-1 in the future pool and made the first Saturday in May a nice payday last year too, with Barbaro at 7-1 selected in our raceday previews. These winners made up for his frustrating day when his 25-1 future bet Empire Maker lost to Funny Cide four years ago.

1 – STREET SENSE

Am I one of the few to believe in his huge win at Churchill Downs last year, when he won the Juvenile by a staggering 10 lengths? Okay, he may have been making his way around the track on the best part of the surface but tell me; if he had been three or four wide, and won by ’only five lengths’, would more people give him more respect? The form of the Juvenile is very, very solid, and make no mistake – this colt’s for real. Tampa Bay Derby – Blue Grass Stakes route makes more sense than the earlier talked about Hutcheson comeback. He’s the best juvenile since Arazi and he is likely to train on at three. I think he is this year’s Kentucky Derby winner.


2 – ANY GIVEN SATURDAY

He may demonstrate exactly how much we ought to miss Tiz Wonderful, who beat him at Churchill Downs last year. Any Given Saturday’s inexperience told that day, but he looked very, very talented. His comeback win in the Sam Davis told us he is still keen on the game, nothing more, and it’s interesting that Pletcher lets him meet Street Sense at Tampa Bay. He has more scope for improvement than Circular Quay.


3 – CIRCULAR QUAY

Seeing is believing, and you saw how good he is when he came from way off the pace to win the Louisiana Derby – after so nearly having his whole season ruined in the Risen Star. If that horse had gone down in front of him, it could have caused some damage. And damage is the last thing you want at this stage. Circular Quay is back on track, no doubt, and he must be respected. If the Kentucky Derby gets a strong pace, we could well see Street Sense and Circular Quay fill the first two places, just like they did in the BC Juvenile.

How about that for a solid ’jinx breaker’?


4 - GREAT HUNTER

The form of the Lane’s End Futurity has worked out tremendously well, and he also ran a good race in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. He looked classy once more on his first start of 2007, when beating Sam P. in the Lewis Stakes. I doubt Sam P. is top class but I believe Great Hunter is – and he will stay 1 ¼ miles.


5 – CURLIN

Having backed him at 125-1 for the Derby, I’d love to see this colt make it to Churchill Downs – but maybe it’s better for his long-term future if he doesn’t. His debut win at Gulfstream Park was something else. If he can run like that over a distance of ground, well then he’s a serious contender. Though let’s think more realistically here… could something like the Travers or Haskell be more likely perhaps?


OTHERS...

Nobiz Like Shobiz should not be tossed out, not just yet, as he could well be a horse who simply needs 1 ¼ miles to show his best.

Scat Daddy moved up in the Fountain of Youth, where I believe he kicked in well – Stormello was not stopping that badly – but can’t quite see either over the full distance.

I am not so sure about Ravel, the son of Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. He has done little wrong thus far, but what has he beaten? A win in the Santa Anita Derby would, of course, make him one of the favorites. Defeat may not be the worst learning experience either.

Notional is the hard trying sort one will proably need to include in the trifecta plan on May 5, but winning it? Hard to see.

CONCLUSION:

I recently asked my bookmaker to quote me a future odds on Street Sense and Circular Quay to fill the first two places on May 5. I was offered 25-1 for the quinella. Still unsure whether it’s good value, though I think it could easily happen. Any Given Saturday is the potential improver, while Great Hunter has that ’solid’ look about him and Curlin will have to learn so much in so little time to have a chance.





Published: 2007-03-16 06:35:54

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