Storming the Winner’s Circle

Strong bloodlines will carry Normandy Invasion to Derby victory


Winner: Normandy Invasion
Second: Revolutionary
Third: Itsmyluckyday
Fourth: Orb

When it comes to Kentucky Derby betting slumps, look no further than yours truly. I was the hottest horse-racing prognosticator around these parts from 2006-10, hitting four of five winners in the annual “Run for the Roses.” Since then, it’s been nothing but shredded tickets and crushed dreams.

I went from being the Nostradamus of handicapping to Eddie Mush of A Bronx Tale. His Kryptonite was my Dialed In and Union Rags in the two most recent debacles. But that’s all behind me now. Get that rent money ready, and put those breast implants on hold. You’ll be celebrating in style on May 4 after “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” concludes with my pick in the winner‘s circle on the 40th anniversary of Secretariat’s record-setting victory en route to winning the Triple Crown.

Here’s my take on the probable field (as of April 30):

Black Onyx: This sharp-looking colt won the Spiral Stakes, which will be the biggest victory he ever experiences before retirement.
Charming Kitten: One of my live long shots. Flew late to get third in the Blue Grass and could absolutely contend for the crown. Exotic wagering is a must.

Falling Sky: The colt hasn’t raced since March in the Tampa Bay Derby, where he finished third. The long layoff is too much.

Frac Daddy: Can you imagine this name among Kentucky Derby champions? Exactly.

Giant Finish: Multiple late defections led to his entry, which tells you he wasn’t good enough to get in on his own merits.

Goldenscents: Frightening. The Santa Anita Derby winner is part-owned by Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, who just last month earned a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and won a national championship. The jockey? Kevin Krigger, who is trying to become the first African-American to win the Derby since Jimmy Winkfield in 1902. Throw everything out if this horse draws the No. 5 post, which was the number worn by injured Louisville guard Kevin Ware.

Golden Soul: Got in the Derby after Code West and Govenor Charlie opted out of the race. Should’ve stayed home.

Itsmyluckyday: Well, it could be if the pace is a crawl and this horse finds himself comfortably stalking the leaders once they hit the far turn. Primed for a big performance.

Java’s War: Loved him in the Blue Grass when he caught Palace Malice at the wire to win by a neck. Should get good value. I see him picking up the pieces late.

Lines of Battle: The UAE Derby winner is the only horse to race close to the 1¼-mile Derby distance in his career. Problem is, he’s a turf horse. Stay away.

Mylute: Surely the sentimental pick among the ladies as Rosie Napravnik tries to become the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. Chance to hit exotics.

Orb: The Florida Derby winner has the pedigree to get the distance. Went 3-for-3 at Gulfstream Park. Switches back to jockey Joel Rosario after John Velazquez opted to ride Verrazano.

Overanalyze: The Arkansas Derby winner beat a field I didn’t think was all that good. Like Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast McKayla Maroney, I’m not impressed.

Oxbow: This is a top-10 horse, but he’s a class below several others in the mix.

Palace Malice: One of two horses I have a Derby futures wager on. Lost by a neck in the Blue Grass Stakes and will improve. We haven’t seen his best yet.

Revolutionary: The Louisiana Derby champion gets Louisiana-born jockey Calvin Borel, who was just voted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and has won this race three times since 2007. Lock him into all exotic wagers (i.e., exactas, trifectas, etc.).

Verrazano: The Wood Memorial winner is unbeaten and might be the class of the field, but he carries a whopper of a trend to overcome on his résumé: The last horse to win the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old was Apollo … in 1882.

Vyjack: He’s part of the trio coming to the Derby off the Wood Memorial, where he finished third. A gritty horse who shows fight but will struggle to get the distance.

Will Take Charge: Love his name, but I only take cash. And he’s not delivering any at the finish line.

Normandy Invasion: Meet your Derby winner, kids. The Wood runner-up has champions galore in his bloodlines, including Secretariat and fellow Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. His mother is Boston Lady, who is by Boston Harbor, so a win for Beantown would be special, as well. Wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a Barbaro-type rout.