Derby (Darby) PreviewYou can bet the Epsom Derby over at www.twinspires.com, tomorrow morning at 11am eastern time.
I had a chance to talk this week with UK professional punter Robert Dove, and he shared his thoughts on tomorrow's Big One. He crushed for us in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, let’s see how he does in the second English classic, which is run over 1 ½ miles at one of the most unusual courses in the world, Epsom Downs. Prices below represent fair odds and are computed to slightly less than a 100% line.
Take it away, Dove.
#1 CARLTON HOUSE -- Will it be hats off for the Queen? Her horse here has what amounts to a twisted ankle apparently but they felt it necessary to X-ray so it’s clearly somewhat serious. It sounds like he’s definitely going to line up and it’s hard to imagine the Queen pulling a Repole. He was impressive in a key prep race, the Dante, where he won closing off a very slow pace. His final time was about 4 seconds slower time than what former Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf Champion Midday ran in the previous race but they went so slowly in Carlton House’s race that it hurt the time. It’s notable that CH came home over the last furlong and a half 1 second quicker than Midday (despite Midday coming home pretty quickly off an even pace) and even faster than they came home in the sprints on the same card. Clearly CH has a nice turn of foot but I'm not sure he will stay on pedigree (the mare has mainly thrown up milers and it’s easier to stay off a slow pace like he had in the Dante). All in all, he’s an obvious contender who is unlikely to be anything resembling value. 5/1.
#2 CASTLEMORRIS KING -- Has more chance of marrying the Queen than winning this race. 1,000,000-1.
#3 MARHABA MALYOON -- Another with no chance, last in the Lingfield derby trial. 500-1.
#4 MASKED MARVEL -- He won the Cocked Hat stakes at Goodwood in visually impressive fashion off a slow pace but the field was weak and the favorites didn't run to form. In his previous race, the Bet365 Classic trial, he was too close to a fast pace and probably needed the run. The Epsom course is undulating and slanted in the straight and his success at Goodwood suggests that the unique trip and track here should be no problem. He might be a tad overpriced. 16-1.
#5 MEMPHIS TENNESSEE-- A nice big sort who finished second to Recital in the Derrinstwon Stud Derby trial in Ireland. That was his first run of the season so he can be expected to come on for the run and the trip should suit. He probably lacks the class to win but worth a watch in the market and is one to consider for tossing in your exotics. 33-1.
#6 NATIVE KHAN -- He an a big race in the 2000 Guineas behind the freak who is Frankel and he hasn't run since. Will the step up in trip suit? It’s tough to know as his dam won a sprint and wasn't tried over further than a mile, and most of her progency are milers. Azamour stayed 12 furlongs but his progeny typically do best at 10 furlongs. I suspect he won't stay and even if he does, I don't think he's quite got the class. 20-1.
#7 OCEAN WAR -- Godolphin's sole representative won the Makfi Newmarket stakes last time over 10 furlongs. He will need to improve from that run and his pedigree doesn't scream out 12 furlongs to me. 25-1.
#8 PISCO SOUR -- He set the slow pace in the Dante but Carlton House and Seville blew past him like he was glued to the turf. Can't see him reversing form with them. 150-1.
#9 POUR MOI -- He won the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe at Saint Cloud very impressively in his last start. He was keen early, but sat last off what looked like a decent pace and then quickened impressively in the straight to win going away. The great Andre Fabre has never trained a Derby winner but he says this is his best ever chance. The signals are a bit mixed overall as he is a keen horse and as a son of Montjeu we can't be sure he'll handle the track (his charges can be a bit quirky). All in all, the trip won’t be a problem and he has a strong chance. 3-1.
#10 RECITAL -- He is another quirky Montjeu who won the Group 1 Gran Criterium de Saint Cloud as a 2 year old by 5 lengths on heavy ground. On his seasonal bow, he was odds on favorite to win the Group 3 Ballysax stakes but was keen early and held up too far back. He stayed on late but had too much to do and probably needed the run anyway. From there, he went on to the Derrinstown Stud Stakes which he won showing a nice turn of foot but hanging badly across the track. Clearly he has plenty of class but the track is not going to suit him and he may prefer softer ground. 10-1.
#11 SEVILLE -- He was second in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy as a 2 year old and that race was pretty strong (he had Master of Hounds and Native Khan behind him that day). He’s one who was always going to improve for a step up in trip (being by Galileo out of a Silver Hawk mare). On his seasonal reappearance he ran in the Dante where they crawled and he got outsprinted by Carlton House but Seville will no doubt come on for the run and will be more suited by the Derby test than Carlton House in my opinion. 9/2.
#12 TREASURE BEACH -- Was well beaten behind Frankel in the Royal lodge as a 2 year old but that doesn't look so bad now. He won the Group 3 Chester Vase on his only start this year but that looked a weak race. Having said that, Aidan O'Brien’s horses normally come on for the run and he has proven he stays. Plus, the track should suit him more than others. Another longshot/exotics possibility. 25-1.
#13 VADAMAR -- Was third behind Pour Moi last time when an odds on favorite with no apparent excuse other than maybe he was too close to his pacemaker (no sectionals available). Still, he should have beaten the second there and it’s hard to think he will reverse form. Nonetheless, his connections (Aga Khan/Alain De Royer-Dupre) have to be respected. 25-1
SUMMARY: A very open Derby with no real standouts and a lot of mystery behind the key contenders. Carlton House will be the short priced favorite, which makes this a bettable race with preference given to POUR MOI, SEVILLE & MASTER MARVEL, with TREASURE BEACH another to consider. Perhaps try to box those four in exactas in weighted combinations to POUR MOI and SEVILLE. If the prices are right, consider win bets as well. Horses who are overlays on the line might also be worth throwing into exacta combinations.