Happy Derby Day!!

All the best on this glorious morning here in Saratoga -- terrible storm last night that left limbs down everywhere, but we awoke to a sunny, crisp cool Spring morning ready to celebrate and enjoy this year's Kentucky Derby. And what a race this year -- we've got at least 9 horses who I would not be too terribly surprised if they won.  Yep 9 -- really narrowing it down for your aren't I??

We've got a couple who may be as talented as their limited number of races suggest they may be, and a few more who look positioned to step it up enough as they mature --- some of these I think may take a little longer and won't do so today, but I'm getting ahead of myself.  First, I wanted to report on the Bliss horses:

Strikealinethruit and Irishtocat have both had lovely fillies this year and are down with their dates in Kentucky --we expect to have the foals and mares back in New York in June.  And if I get time later, I'll update this post with photos, but you can always go to our Facebook page which has the most recent photos and videos:

https://www.facebook.com/blissstable/

Our horses in training are all doing well and on track for some action this year:

Crawfish Shorts had a very nice work this week in company with a horse that ran second to Enticed (yes, the 2 year old at Saratoga last year that impressed me more than any other), so he was with a quality horse and worked very well.  We need to see some more progress to see if he can compete on the NYRA circuit, but we remain hopeful as he trains in Saratoga at the Oklahoma track.

I Like Your Style will work a little later this morning. We're hoping to get this beautiful, solid filly lined up for her first win -- we'll know more on her next start after today's work, but she's likely to race again in the next few weeks and that performance will tell us more about what we have.  She will most likely start on the turf and after that race our assessment of her will be fair.

Showalittlefaith, our 2 year old, is still down in South Carolina and doing well.  We should know in another 6 weeks or so what the best plan for him will be.

So all good on the Bliss front, and now back to today's Derby:

A very good handicapper I know is very high on Flameaway, at least he was on Thursday, and another I know had a feeling about the number 7 horse (who happens to be the favorite though she didn't know that) and I've read many articles with various opinions about the race . . . despite all the noise surrounding the race, for me, I've distilled it to the following analysis on the Derby field (by the way, any of these we would be THRILLED to own, so don't take any of the comments to be too negative):

Firenze Fire - Beat one of the favorites in an excellent two year old season, but I'm not sure he wants the distance.  Look for him later to star in King's Bishop/Met Mile type races.  Very nice horse, but as a Derby horse with a terrible post? Nope.

Free Drop Billy - Another very good two year old, with breeding that suggests Derby distance is within reach. Nice second to Audible at three and bothered in last race -- needs to step up his game but a nice horse who should win some Gr. II's and III's later in the year.  Nope.

Promises Fulfilled - Shackleford!!! Love the sire, but this one has a very tough running style for success in the Derby.  Big FOY race and ran well at Churchill Downs last year at 2, will be there early, I'm just afraid he won't be there at the end, though I would love to see a Shackleford take the Derby . . . .but, Nope.

Flameaway - Gritty, tough, always there -- great trainer, solid pedigree for distance and is training very well at Churchill. I'm not a fan of his jockey . . . needs to improve to compete with top horses but his competitive nature keeps him IN THE MIX.

Audible - New York Bred (that should be enough for me to say he's my pick, right?) who is notorious for not working well but running very well and now is working well for this race. He has a stellar record, but his race in the Floriday Derby for me was a little bit of a head fake - looked great but did he really run that well?  Definitely IN THE MIX, but I have questions about his ability to go the distance against some really talented horses.

Good Magic - Right breeding for the distance.  Right trainer for center stage events.  Right jockey to get a big W. Excellent two year  old record and reportedly is training lights out.  A LIST.

Justify - It has been a long time since a horse unraced at two has won the Derby, but this one's talent has many think he'll be the one to follow American Pharoah in winning not only this but all three Triple Crown events.  He may be that talented, but only three races in small fields has me not sure what to do with him . . . supremely talented but will that overcome of big field of talented, more experienced runners?  We shall see, and he is the one most likely to make me a goat, but as of this a.m., I'm only going to put him IN THE MIX.

Lone Sailor - Last race was his best yet, and these young horses often mature/improve noticeably at this time of the year.  That said, he hadn't shown much before that, though he is training very well at Churchill Downs.  Nice horse, but we can't bet them all.  Nope.

Hofburg - Love the trainer and love his last race - right breeding and big time jockey.  I have this one on my A LIST.

My Boy Jack -- All those with Jack's in their lives are going to ruin the odds on this one.  Another tough runner like Flameaway, and he should definitely be used in exotics, but I'm not sure he's good enough.  Again, I may kick myself on this one, but for me he's an exotics underneath bet only, so for the win? Nope.

Bolt d'Oro - Technically he's a winner this year, but he's finished 2nd twice after an exciting two year old season in which he flashed real brilliance.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for his races this year, I like his breeding for the distance, and we know his jockey knows his way to the winner's circle in the Derby.  A LIST.

Enticed - Sentimental choice for me -- wow'ed me as a two year old and is a very nice horse.  He is one I think will win the Travers or a big fall race at Belmont, but may not be quite good enough yet to beat some of these. I will make a sentimental bet to win on him. IN THE MIX, but SENTIMENTAL WIN BET ONLY.

Bravazo - While it would be a great story to see D. Wayne win this race, I think this horse may not be good enough to compete with the top level of 3 year olds at this point.  Nice horse, solid breeding for the distance, but, sorry Coach, Nope.

Mendelssohn - Great sire, arguably has the best trainer in the world - yep world--, family has been outstanding and his last race was eye candy for those who are looking for a Secretariat like performance.  Going 1:55 for 1 3/16 miles is excellent experience and shows he should be able to get the distance, but how much did the track and lack of competition provide another head fake for us?  I will let this one beat me, though he is IN THE MIX.

Instilled Regard - Sire is great, not sure about female family for this distance.  Excellent trainer and jockey, but I think he may not be as good as these.  Respect the trainer's decision to run him, but I'm going to say Nope.

Magnum Moon - Strong breeding, good trainer and jockey for this undefeated runner who like Justify did not race at two.  Appears to be training very well and his races put him IN THE MIX.

Solomini - Dance the right dances and acquits himself very nicely in each race -- never finishing out of the money, including 4 Gr. I races!  Very impressive resume, but he just doesn't excite.  He has THE hot jockey in Flavien Prat and is likely to be overlooked in the betting as Baffert's "other horse -  not sure he can win but he's an A LIST for me.

Vino Rosso - Love the breeding and the improvement he has been showing, and he's training well.  He beat my boy Enticed, so I have to put him on the A LIST, right?

Noble Indy -- Another gritty, hard trying horse who I am sentimentally behind because of his sire, Take Charge Indy, nd his tough running style. That Johnny V. picked Vino Rosso has me mildly concerned, but he is IN THE MIX and a sentimental win bet for me.

Combatant - Competitive sort is always right there, but doesn't seem as strong as Solomini, so another very nice horse that we have to make a decision on and for me, he's a Nope.

So, long winded, but here's how they shake out for me:

NOPE - This means I don't think these will win, so go ahead and be assured one of these is your winner!: 

Firenze Fire, Free Drop Billy, Promises Fulfilled, Lone Sailor, My Boy Jack, Bravazo, Instilled Regard, Combatant

IN THE MIX - These are all possible winners, and I wouldn't be surprised if they do but I'm going to bet against them in the win spot:

Flameaway, Audible, Justify, Enticed, Mendelssohn, Magnum Moon, Noble Indy

A LIST - These are the ones I think have the most potential to win:

Good Magic, Hofburg, Bolt d'Oro, Vino Rosso

SENTIMENTAL WIN BETS - I'll bet them to win and use in the top spots in exotics because if they win I would kick myself, but my head tells me they aren't likely to win, but I want them to:

Enticed, Noble Indy

PICKS IN ORDER:

1. Good Magic

2. Bolt d'Oro

3. Audible

4. Hofburg

5. Vino Rosso

I'm sure this won't make sense, but these are my picks as of 8:15 on Derby morning - -they may change, but I doubt too much.  Have fun, bet with your head not over it . . . and enjoy Derby Day!!

Mike