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Horse Racing

Liam Durbin's handicap on the 135th Kentucky Derby

May 01, 2009

Pioneerof The Nile comes out on top of the computer rankings, driven primarily by his class advantage. Pioneer has a few more graded events and the fields he has faced have been slightly larger. This is enough to give him a good edge in class. I Want Revenge is bolstered by solid scores in every category, including a strong last score, which he earned in the Wood Memorial. Human handicappers were impressed with that effort also, overcoming trouble and finishing well on his way to win. Papa Clem has a very similar profile as I Want Revenge but should be closer to the pace. One of the most significant observations is the speed score for Join In The Dance. Regal Ransom also has early speed, but the computer model cannot evaluate the races in the UAE. So his speed score under-represents his speedy nature. These two represent what little speed there is in the race, and their speed advantage is significant. Of the two, Regal Ransom has the class to hold on to the wire. Friesan Fire and Dunkirk get dropped in the rankings for similar reasons, lack of good efforts against class-filled fields. For value, consider putting Regal Ransom on top and hope he can wire it. Or look at Musket Man, who is five-of-six lifetime and has never missed the board. Comes in a bit underappreciated off his Illinois Derby win. Finally, a good value proposition is Hold Me Back, who is a notorious closer and may get his shot if the pace is hot up front.

Although my computer has picked the last three Derby's correctly, my human intuition tells me I Want Revenge will prevail. I will bet I Want Revenge to win. For exacta, I will box I Want Revenge, Pioneerof The Nile, Hold Me Back and Regal Ransom. I will box the same four horses in a trifecta. Best of luck!

Saturday at Churchill Downs, Kentucky. 1 1/4 miles (10 furlongs), Dirt. $2-million purse. 11th race on the card; Post time approximately 3:20 p.m. PDT; TV: Channel 4:

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