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SHACKLED NO MORE

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POSTED May 7, 2011 2:31 a.m.

No matter who ends up getting covered with the beautiful bouquet of roses after the 137th Kentucky Derby, the chances of the winning jockey-horse combination coming in at hefty odds seem to be pretty good.

The 20-horse field has been trimmed to 19 with the scratch of former favorite Uncle Mo, leaving the nation’s earning’s leader, Dialed In, as the Derby’s favorite. Dialed In (No. 8-horse) will l take the lion’s share of the wagering, likely making a deep and talented field more lucrative than even expected.

My allegiance will fall on the shoulders, legs and hopefully nose, of derby entry Shackleford to come home first. Shackleford’s runner-up finish in the Florida Derby to Dialed In displayed something that I like, regardless of how slow the fractions were.

I think his best trip is still in front of him and jockey Jesus Castanon has to pull it out. When Dialed In edged him out by a nose at the tape, Shackleford (No. 14-horse) had been on the gas maybe a bit too soon. If he is capable of getting out in the front end of the pack, cruise for the bulk of the 1 ¼ mile race and hit it late, things could be looking good for trainer Dale Romans.

Archarcharch (No. 1-horse) was one of my top-tier horses, but the complications that will come with his pulling the always-daunting rail post, leaves the winner of the Arkansas Derby with too step a climb to make.

Jockey Corey Nakatani will be ushering around trainer Steve Asmussen’s only entry with 6-1 morning line Nehro. Nehro (No.19-horse) will definitely be in all of my exotic plays, but will likely lose value when bettors fall on him before post time. He will likely be in the 4-1 area, but well worth it as a definite possibility for the win.

Midnight Interlude (No. 15-horse) made a terrific impression during his Santa Anitia Derby win April 9th, and should surely be remembered at the wagering window. Trainer Bob Baffert is right at around a 30-percent clip, and has the horse on a steady climb of improvements on each distance extension. Baffert showed his magic in the Kentucky Oaks Friday with $14 winner Plum Pretty.

Stay Thirsty (No. 4-horse) has become a horse to watch by default for reigning derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher. The chances of Pletcher not knowing Uncle Mo was a no-go are pretty slim, putting 20-1 Stay Thirsty in a lavish position for the trainer extraordinaire. It’s safe to assume Pletcher will have the long shot ready, and with the winningest jockey of the season, Ramon Dominguez, aboard, he deserves a notice.

There will be 60-percent chances of showers at Churchill Downs at the 3:24 p.m. post time, and if the track has one little puddle anywhere, jockey Calvin Borel will definitely get some action. Borel rode last year’s derby winner Super Saver with a magnificent trip in the slop. This year he’s on 20-1 Twice the Appeal (No. 3-horse) and with rain in the forecast he has to be taken serious.

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