Beyer's Quick Take on Derby Day

By Andrew Beyer
Saturday, May 2, 2009; 11:53 AM

The ankle injury that knocked I Want Revenge out of the Kentucky Derby obviously changed the complexion of the race both as a sporting drama and a betting proposition.

Little more than a week ago, the prospective field for 135th Derby appeared to well above average. Two colts, I Want Revenge and Quality Road, had both earned Beyer Speed Figures of 113 in prep races; considering that the average winning figure for the Derby is 109, both appeared to be potential stars. But Quality Road was sidelined with a hoof injury, and now I Want Revenge's defection makes the 19-horse lineup look ordinary.

The top two contenders now are Dunkirk, who remains an uncertain proposition because of his lack of experience; and Friesan Fire, whose best performance came on a sloppy track in Louisiana. The Churchill Strip was muddy this morning,and Friesan Fire would be a prime beneficiary if it remains wet at post time.

The scratch of I Want Revenge diminishes my enthusiasm for betting the Derby; he was the only entrant I thought possessed unshakable credentials. (Unfortunately, I hadn't been able to scrutinize his ankle.) But because betting the Derby is a civic duty, my strategy will be to eliminate all of the horses with synthetic-track form, and play the trifecta and supefecta using the logical horses, Friesan Fire and Dunkirk, plus Papa Clem and the two invaders from Dubai, Regal Ransom and Desert Party.

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