The Kentucky Derby

Ed Reinke/AP
I Want Revenge

Kentucky Derby: I Want Revenge Scratches; Track Condition Sloppy

May 02, 2009
by Mark E. Moran
On the morning of the Kentucky Derby, the expected favorite, I Want Revenge, was scratched due to an apparently minor ankle injury. After overnight rains, the racetrack is sloppy and should remain so through post time.

An Eventful Morning at Churchill Downs

Nineteen 3-year-old colts will break from the starting gate today in the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby.  Post time for the Kentucky Derby is 6:04 p.m. EDT. It will be televised nationally by NBC.

The morning of the race brought the stunning announcement that morning-line favorite I Want Revenge was scratched from the race. Veterinarian Dr. Larry Bramlege told Horse Racing TV that the horse had minor swelling in his ankle and favored it while walking. An x-ray revealed no apparent problems, and the vets could not determine the reason for the swelling. 

The other major news on Derby morning was that overnight rains rendered the race track sloppy. While the Churchill Downs track is known to be unusually fast-drying, the current forecast calls for a 60 percent of continued showers and modest temperatures, and thus the track should remain sloppy through the running of the Kentucky Derby.

Information about the race and each contender is available on the official site of the Kentucky Derby. It lists the entrants, and provides information about recent races, including video replays, plus information on the pedigree of each horse, and the owners, trainers and jockeys.

The Daily Racing Form’s Kentucky Derby section includes news stories and analysis from its racing experts. If you are serious about your selection process, you must read the Racing Form’s free “Past Performances,” which provide crucial details on every race each horse has run. It also provides information that suggests which horses may benefit from the expected sloppy track conditions, which is discussed further below.

Which Kentucky Derby Horses Will Run Well in the Mud?

Overnight and early morning rains have rendered the Churchill Downs racetrack sloppy. Current forecasts called for continued showers through the day and a temperature in the low 60s. The Churchill Downs racetrack dries quickly on hot days in the absence of further rain, but is likely to remain sloppy, or at least muddy, for the Kentucky Derby given the expected conditions.

In the first two races held at Churchill Downs today, the front runners perservered and drew away from the field in deep stretch, while horses attempting to close, particularly those who traveled wide into the stretch, faded in deep stretch. While you should be careful about drawing conclusions from a limited sample of two races, if there is a track bias today, it is in favor of front runners.

The first thing to understand is the conditions of a dirt track: a fast track is dry and even; a good track has a modest amount of moisture in it; a muddy track has a lot of water in it but none on the surface; and a sloppy track is saturated, with water visible on the surface.

Some horse fare very well on a sloppy track, others are indifferent to it, and some do poorly on it. The Racing Form’s “Past Performances” will offer some clues about how each horse will do.

The most important factor to consider is how a horse has run previously on wet tracks.  A secondary factor is the “Tomlinson Wet Track” rating, which is a number derived from a horse's breeding to suggest a horse's potential to run on a wet track.
Six of the Derby starters have run on a wet track:

Friesan Fire excelled on a sloppy surface when he crushed the field in the Louisiana Derby in March, and clearly relishes a wet track. Papa Clem was a distant second to Friesan Fire in the Lousiana Derby. It was not one of his very best efforts, and thus the sloppy track is a mild negative for him. Desert Party won convincingly in his only start on a wet track when he won the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga last July on a muddy surface, and the slop should benefit him.

Nowhere to Hide ran as well on a muddy track as he did on fast, so the track condition is a neutral factor for him. Join the Dance finished 2nd and 4th in his two wet track efforts, but they were the slowest races of his career. Flying Private did poorly in his only wet track effort.

None of the others have raced on a wet track, but Tomlinson Wet Track numbers are highest for General Quarters, Dunkirk, Mr. Hot Stuff, Hold Me Back, and Regal Ransom.

Where to Bet The Kentucky Derby Online

  • Most racetracks that are open for live racing, and most off-track betting outlets in the United States, offer betting on the Kentucky Derby. Click here for a calendar of live racing at all racetracks in the United States.

  • For those who cannot make it to a racetrack or other wagering outlet, legal betting on the Kentucky Derby is available to residents of most U.S. states through several online betting account providers. Legitimate online wagering services that allow you to set up an account online, fund it through a credit card on a same-day basis, and that accept wagers from residents of most states include YouBet, TwinSpires, TVG and XpressBet.

  • Autotote is another legitimate online wagering firm, but does not enable you to open your new account online.  Some racetracks also offer online wagering accounts, but most do not offer same-day opening and funding options.

  • Be wary of any other online wagering provider, other than the four on the list above; they may be located offshore and may not be legally permitted to accept wagers from U.S. residents. Most search engine searches will generate results for illegal offshore wagering providers.

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