2013 Kentucky Derby could be slowest ever
By Jeff Frank
(Sports Network) -
Verrazano would be bet down as a possible favorite in almost any recent Kentucky Derby. However, in 2013 he easily will be the favorite because this crop of 3-year-olds might be the worst in history.
Outside Govenor Charlie's Sunland Park Derby, the final times of almost all the prep races have been painfully slow. And his time wouldn't have been that strong if it had not for the cement highway the race was run on. Three track records were broken that day, including the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Sunland Park Derby.
Even Verrazano's Wood Memorial was the fourth-slowest running since 1990. The other three winners - Bob and John, Tale of Ekati and Gemologist - finished 17th, 4th and 16th in the Kentucky Derby, respectively.
This past Saturday's races - the Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby - were run as if the tracks was made out of quicksand.
The Blue Grass was run more than two seconds slower than Dullahan's victory in 2012, and four of the last five runnings had quicker final times. The only reason Java's War is being given a chance to win the Kentucky Derby is because he is not alone in his inability to win in fast times.
As for the Arkansas Derby, the 1:51 4/5 seconds that Overanalyze needed to complete the 1 1/8-mile race was the slowest winning time since 1978, and more than three seconds behind Bodemeister's win last year.
It is true the Remsen winner obliterated the field by over four lengths, but he needed almost 39 seconds to run his final three-eighths. Moreover, the track was not that slow since Cyber Secret won the Oaklawn Handicap about one hour earlier in 1:49 3/5 for the 1 1/8 miles.
Going back even further, the Louisiana Derby, which featured Revolutionary, was not even as quick as the last two runnings, one of which was won by the 109-1 Hero of Order, who did not even race in the Kentucky Derby.
Orb, who many consider the probable second choice behind Verrazano, ran the third-slowest Florida Derby in the last 20 years. The other two were won by Friends Lake and Hal's Hope, who ran 15th and 16th, respectively, in the Kentucky Derby.
This hasn't just been a recent trend. Will Take Charge won the Rebel Stakes on March 16, going the 1 1/16 in 1:45 1/5. You have to go back to 1990 to find a Rebel run in such a slow time. Nuits St. Georges, the winner that year, wound up 10th in the Arkansas Derby in his subsequent start.
Even Flashback's Robert B. Lewis win does not stack up with previous years. His 1:42 4/5 was the slowest running in over a dozen years. When combined with his second in the San Felipe followed by another close second in the Santa Anita Derby despite chipping a bone in his knee, it really shows how bad the California contingent is this year.
Goldencents, the Santa Anita Derby winner, ran the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48 3/5, which was about five lengths slower than I'll Have Another's win in last year's running. Furthermore, his 1:36 2/5 mile in the Sham Stakes early in the year was two seconds slower than it took Out of Bounds to win the race in 2012.
Given how slow almost every prep race has been this spring, the most profitable bet one could make in the 2013 Kentucky Derby is to take "over" whatever time is listed for the final time of the race.