Thursday, May 03, 2007

Five Good Questions with . . . Rick Snider of The Examiner newspapers about The Derby

Today's "Five Good Questions" is with sports columnist Rick Snider.....Rick works for the Examiner newspapers in Washington and Baltimore ( he has covered horse racing for over 25 years and knows our friend Railbird Roberts well....the two have been trackside for many great races....

Q1. What is a jockey's best strategy in trying to win the Kentucky Derby?
There is no one way to win the Derby so knowing your horse's capabilities is everything. If he's a speedster, get to the early lead and hope for the best. If he's not, don't fight for that early lead on the first turn. The opening turn can really make or break through bad traffic problems so staying clean is a big deal. The second key is not letting the adrenalin kick in too early on the final turn. If you have some horse left, wait until the top of the stretch before moving.

Q2. Curlin is trying to be the first horse in over 100 years to win the Derby without ever racing as a 2-year old. What do you know about Curlin and is it possible for this horse win?
You'd like to dismiss Derby trends and take each horse as they come, but those trends tend to be right. Dosage, no starts as a two-year-old, mares . . . betting against them is often futile. I'll toss Curlin for that reason -- lack of seasoning. In a race with 150,000 people at the track, green horses can become unnerved. Throw in a tough race of 20 horses and Curlin could be undone by elements that aren't there in any other race. He is fast, though.

Q3. In your opinion, why hasn't there been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed did it in 1978?
Mostly, bad luck. Silver Charm lost a photo. Several others have been equally robbed. And who knows the real story on Spectacular Bid and the safety pin he supposedly stepped on the morning of the Belmont. I don't think it's an indictment against the modern horse. It's just one of those things. We'll see another one day and he'll be worthy of it.

Q4. How does Barbaro rate when compared against other elite horses in the last 30 years?
Very hard to say. Barbaro basically won two big races. That doesn't make him great. If he wasn't hurt, maybe Barbaro would have been a super horse, but maybe doesn't make him immortal. In the end, we'll remember him as a potentially great horse who suffered the grand misfortune. Personally, I think Barbaro wouldn't have won the Preakness after breaking through the gate beforehand. That usually costs horses their momentum.

Q5. Who should I put my money on in this year's Kentucky Derby?
If you want to double your money, fold it in half and put it back in your pocket. Sorry, old racetrack joke. My Derby record consisted of two wins in 20 tries with six seconds, but I did have War Emblem paying $42 so in the end I finished $8 ahead over the long run on $2 bets. Seriously, I won't decide until Friday because my tuition at the University of the Twin Spires taught me to toss any horse that has anything strange happen to him during the week. I'm talking anything minor that trainers dismiss only to admit after the race it was more of a big deal than they admitted. Happens all the time. Hard Spun gets tossed by that fast workout on Monday. But, if you're reading this beforehand, my early money will be on Nobiz Like Showbiz over Tiago. Throw in Bwana Bull at 50-1 in your triples. But for my final decision, read my column on Friday in Good luck.

I want to thank Rick for his time.....he has agreed to provide analysis for the Preakness and Belmont...also if you are looking for some real estate, visit Rick’s site at

Today's Derby moment is Spectacular Bid's 1979 win....

  • Spectacular Bid
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