JC / Railbird

Ice Box

Derby 136 Notes

The winners: Congratulations to Calvin Borel, the first jockey to win the Kentucky Derby three times in four years, and to Todd Pletcher, who won his first Derby, putting an end to springtime stories about his double-digit string of losses. “It feels awfully good,” said Pletcher of his victory. Super Saver, one of the trainer’s four starters, finished 2 1/2 lengths in front of Ice Box, a neck in front of Paddy O’Prado, 1 1/4 lengths ahead of Make Music For Me (chart).

The tote: Early Kentucky Derby wagering, odd as it looked, was smart. With more than an hour to post, Marcus Hersh observed:

Super Saver is still 8-1 (Calvin Borel money, for the most part, one assumes) with Sidney’s Candy finally showing some movement, too, now at 9-1. Ice Box continues to be remarkably short, 10-1, but not so much as Paddy O’Prado, who is 11-1 despite having one career win — that having come on turf — and a distant seventh-place maiden finish in his lone dirt start.

Little changed over the next 60 minutes. At post time, odds ran from 6.30-31.60, headed by Lookin at Lucky, followed by Super Saver at 8-1. Discreetly Mine was the longest shot. The compressed range probably reflected bettors’ sense of a wide-open race and a belief that anything could happen (see: Backtalk, 23-1 or Homeboykris, 27-1), but the public still turned out to be a fairly accurate judge of contenders’ chances: Of the top four finishers, three were among the top seven betting choices, and five of the top seven picks finished in the top 10, with Lookin at Lucky running sixth, after a trip that had him squeezed out and shuffled back from the start, and the filly Devil May Care finishing 10th at 10-1. Sidney’s Candy, the third favorite at 9-1, finished 17th. (It couldn’t have helped that the colt was unnerved by the crowd — his body tense, ears back, head turning toward the spectacle — as he was being loaded into the gate. He was the picture of an unhappy horse.)

The times: Final time for the Derby was 2:04.45, the slowest since 1989, with splits of :22.63, :23.53, :24.72, :27.07, and :26.80. Conveyance, with Sidney’s Candy pressing, led the field through “ludicrous fractions“; the pace collapsed as anticipated. Super Saver was there to pick up with a fourth quarter of :26.22 and a final quarter of :26.55. Ice Box, though, appeared to be closing faster after clearing traffic twice, and he was, running the fourth quarter in :24.45 (the second fastest split, with only Make Music for Me, :24.01, quicker) and the final in :26.10 (the fastest). It’ll be interesting to see what the figure makers come up with, considering conditions and individual running lines.

The trip: Untroubled. Heading into the final turn, Borel has Super Saver perfectly positioned for the stretch run. They’re in the lead at the eighth pole:

5/2/10 Update: Beyer speed figures for the top three Kentucky Derby finishers: Super Saver, 104; Ice Box, 100; Paddy O’Prado, 100.