The pace should be fast, the track conditions uncertain and this is what else I think I know about the 124th running of the world's most intriguing race.
Favorite Trick, last year's Horse of the Year, seems a risky proposition at the Derby distance. His best asset however, is trainer Billy Mott, a distance specialist.
Still, Favorite Trick probably will need a major rainstorm to stay in the race. In 1997, his most impressive performance was a smashing, 3 1/2 -length win in the rain-soaked Saratoga Special.
Cape Town is a D. Wayne Lukas-trained stretch runner with the breeding and overall record to win. But, it was awfully hard for him to pass an exhausted Lil's Lad in the Florida Derby, and he could not do so when the latter was clearly injured in the Blue Grass. Jerry Bailey helps.
Halory Hunter is a dangerous Nick Zito-trained stretch runner, but he seemed quite lucky to win the Blue Grass.
Three long-shot stretch runners could all be deadly at big prices if the track is muddy and tiring: Victory Gallop, Hanuman Highway and Parade Ground.
Artax is a different story. Before his weak third-place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, he was terrific. Subsequent reports say he was "not himself." Some say his most recent five-furlong workout in 58 seconds suggests a return to his best form; others point out that he "bore out" to the middle of the track in that work, which suggests possible physical problems.
L At 12-1 or so, a saver flyer might be in order on this colt.
Real Quiet is trained by Bob Baffert, who won last year with
Silver Charm and just missed in '96 with Cavonnier. With good local workouts and a finishing kick, Real Quiet can make a big noise.
Indian Charlie is unbeaten and deserves big-time credit for an impressive Santa Anita Derby victory after only a maiden race and two modest allowance races. Precious few horses have the natural talent or disposition to make such a successful triple jump in company.
A strong-looking colt, Indian Charlie already has run two races faster than any other horse in the field. Though lacking experience, he has responded instantly to every command given by jockey Gary Stevens, who turned down Halory Hunter to keep this assignment. For good measure, his only wet track race was a smashing nine-length win.
The pick: Indian Charlie to win the 1998 Kentucky Derby as the probable 5-2 wagering favorite. Real Quiet, Favorite Trick and Artax offer the strongest threats pending conditions and post parade inspections. Victory Gallop, Halory Hunter, Cape Town and Hanuman Highway on the bottom of trifectas and superfectas.
Pub Date: 5/02/98