It’s Now Post Time

By Michael-Louis Ingram
Updated: May 1, 2009

PHILADELPHIA — The Run For The Roses, now in its 135th edition, comes to Churchill Downs under a new view.

Questions surrounding steroid use, dirt versus synthetic track surfaces and whether a Derby favorite can repeat are issues for discussion as mint juleps take a back step before cheers on the back stretch.

This Derby will be the first in the steroid free era, and performance will be a concern. Big Brown, winner of last year’s Derby, won in a tremendous display of Hoss Power, leaving from post #20 to size up his opposition and gun to a five length victory. There is a full compliment of 20 for this race, and the favorite is the aptly named I Want Revenge, ridden by Joe Talamo.

Talamo, who won the Eclipse Award for best apprentice rider, is cocky enough to get the job done, but the real challenge will be that backstretch and the size of the field.

I Want Revenge will leave from post 13, and much of the speed is sitting outside of him, which brings up the dilemma of getting to an attacking position without the traffic problem.

It is Now Post Time!

Handicapping the 11/4 mile Churchill Downs track has two major aspects to it; inside speed and coming down the home stretch; in this aspect, I respect pedigree, and the #6 hoss, Friesen Fire, has the combination of speed and stamina I like.

AP Indy hosses are bred to run all day, and Gabriel Saez, who rode the ill-fated Eight Belles to her Derby place finish be she was humanely destroyed, will close the deal this time for Maryland – based trainer Larry Jones, who says this will be his last Derby.

The Play: $20 across the board on Friesen Fire #6; a dollar triple wheel with ‘Fire & ‘Revenge (sounds like a cool name for a hoss by itself with the field); a dollar triple partial with # 6 with all with #13; same with #13 with all with #6.