APTOPIX Kentucky Derby Horse Racing

John Velazquez rides Always Dreaming to victory in the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 6, 2017, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) ORG XMIT: DBY207

Matt Slocum

What had happened was. That’s been my initial response to the questions I’ve been getting from loyal readers post- Kentucky Derby. If you missed my column, I opined that the favorites in this year’s Derby were unworthy of a bet due to a long checklist of reasons.

As I continued extolling the virtues and positives of two long shots a familiar contrarian voice went off in my head saying “you just put the favorite in the winner’s circle.”

Gamblers are a superstitious lot if you haven’t noticed. We don’t like to say things out loud or write it down in a newspaper for everyone to read because we believe in jinxes, bad luck and racing gods who are waiting to pounce on a poor-luck punter at the track.

Not only did my selections not win but one of them lost in truly memorable and laughable fashion. Thunder Snow turned a win selection into an embarrassing pick when he began bucking immediately after the start like a bronco at the Angola Prison Rodeo.

Thankfully his jockey possessed the skill to stay “tied” on and while his performance would have earned Snow a high score from rodeo judges the bucking style earned me some hard looks post-Derby. I have no explanation as to why the horse wanted to imitate a distant horse cousin except to blame it on the racing gods again.

The Derby winner Always Dreaming relished the sloppy and soupy racetrack and received a near perfect trip over the Churchill Downs track while emerging at the end of the mile and quarter with nary a speck of mud on him or his jockey John Velazquez’s colorful silks. The horse won with what appeared to be something left in the tank for the Preakness Stakes on Saturday.

Run two weeks after the Derby, the Preakness stakes in Baltimore is the second jewel in the Triple Crown of racing, which American Pharoah won two years ago. Derby winners and also-rans in the Derby have enjoyed considerable success in the race and only three non-Derby starters have won the Preakness over the past 30 years. The new shooters may look appealing, but that appeal doesn’t translate into a winning statistic.

The horses coming off the bench this year to challenge Always Dreaming include Conquest Mo Money who ran second in the Arkansas Derby to near Derby favorite Classic Empire who is a Derby runner returning in the Preakness. Another new face should be a familiar one to Fair Grounds fans, and that is Multiplier, who won and competed over the winter in New Orleans before annexing the Illinois Derby in his last start. And, there is Cloud Computing who passed on the Derby after a good race in the Wood Memorial in New York.

Always Dreaming won’t lose much of his conditioning in just two weeks, especially after a light campaign of racing coming into the Derby. He is a deserved heavy favorite. But, we don’t enjoy betting favorites as that leaves us little chance to recoup our Derby losses after all.

Our money will be on Cloud Computing despite the aforementioned statistic that screams, “don’t bet the new shooters.” We will bet Cloud Computing because his odds are high enough to warrant a wager — hopefully 10-1 or higher.

One of our other Derby selections, Hence, will also offer some high odds and throwing a few bucks on him to run in the money might be wise as well. But Always Dreaming should win and move on to an attempt to challenge the racing gods by winning the Triple Crown in three weeks at Belmont Park in New York.

Chok’s Choices Preakness Selections

1. Always Dreaming

2. Cloud Computing

3. Hence

Good Luck and May they all come home safely.