Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Derby Draws Nigh

The 137th Kentucky Derby will be run a week from today, and no clear favorite is drawing the media attention — yet.

That's right. The first jewel in the Triple Crown will be awarded to someone in seven days, and we have no real idea who it might be.

It's been more than 30 years since a horse won the Triple Crown. That's the longest dry spell since the Triple Crown came into existence. The last time a horse won the Triple Crown, it was almost routine. It was the third time it had happened in six years, and most people who witnessed it — either in person or on TV — probably expected to see it again.

I know I did.

In many years, the betting public has had a pretty good idea which horse was likely to win the first jewel. A few times, it has seemed to be preordained.

But "[t]his is not one of those years," writes Kevin Van Valkenburg in the Chicago Tribune. "In fact, if you have $2 and a hunch, you might have just as good a shot as the experts ... even if you barely know the difference between a furlong, a furlough and a fur coat."

It is anybody's race, agrees Beth Harris for Associated Press.

"I have been watching the Kentucky Derby avidly for almost 30 years," says T.O. Whenham at Doc's Sports Service. "In that time I don't remember seeing a class as confounding and underwhelming as this one."

When it is like that, gamblers look for anything that will give them an edge, and Richard Linihan of the Tulsa World provides a few "things you may need to know" in pursuit of such an edge.

My guess right now is that a consensus of sorts will begin to form in the coming days as the horses go through their workouts and the observers assess what they have seen.

It probably won't be as wide open next Saturday as it appears today.

But we shall see.

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