The field was cut down by one horse as 19 will now enter the starting gate in front of 150,000+ spectators at Churchill Downs for the 2011 Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7th, at 6:24pm ET on NBC. Derby Kitten (30-1), who got in after Toby’s Corner was withdrawn due to injury, comes into Churchill Downs off a victory over the Polytrack surface just like Brilliant Speed and Animal Kingdom. The Lexington Stakes winner will try conventional dirt for the second time after he was beaten by close to 30 lengths last October. He has also never run farther than 1 1/16-miles, and because of those numbers, Derby Kitten will be one of the longest prices on the board with a small probability of finishing near the top.
Beyer speed figure advocates will note that this horse ran a higher number in his first start at 3 years old than he did in all of 2010, and that his numbers have improved in all three subsequent starts. He comes up to the Kentucky Derby in by far the best form of his career, but the Derby wasn’t in the plans for this horse even immediately after the Lexington, when his connections assumed he wouldn’t make the field due to insufficient graded-stakes earnings.Having the right horse is the most important factor in winning the Derby, but it surely is helpful if a horse has specifically been pointed to and trained for the race, so the horse racing odds are justified for Derby Kitten at +3000.
Derby Kitten has the high leg action generally associated with grass/synthetic performers, and may not be anywhere near the same horse on dirt that he was at Keeneland. Moreover, he got an excellent pace setup and trip in the Lexington while facing just five legitimate contenders. All of these factors flattered his performance, so I don’t plan on including him in any of my plays on Saturday’s run for the roses.
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