Rees: Why they can and can’t win the Derby

by | 05.01.2011 | 8:12am

Louisville Courier-Journal turf writer Jennie Rees goes through the Derby field one by one and describes the reasons why each one will or won't be draped in roses come Saturday:

Nehro

Why he can win: He has closed well to finish second by a neck in both the Louisiana Derby and Arkansas Derby. He's bred for the distance. Trainer Steve Asmussen knows how to get a horse ready for the Triple Crown.

Why he can't: He's going to be the “buzz” horse, and they never win. He's got to show he wants to win. Since 1933, only five horses have won the Derby after breaking their maiden during their 3-year-old campaign. Since 1971, only 50-1 Giacomo in 2005 earned his first stakes victory in the Derby (we're giving Alysheba credit for finishing first in the Blue Grass, though disqualified).


Pants On Fire

Why he can win: In going from rabbit for a stablemate to Louisiana Derby winner by a neck, he showed he's not only good but game. Jockey Rosie Napravnik, the first female to win a Fair Grounds riding title and the Louisiana Derby, is on a history-making roll. He's got the pedigree to go long and looks very good in training. The infield crowd will go crazy about the name.

Why he can't: He's most effective on the lead, or just off it to the outside. He'll have a lot of company vying for his favorite spot. Needles (1956) is the last horse to win the Derby off a six-week layoff. Can you see the name Pants On Fire up there with Secretariat and Affirmed?

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