Drape: Handicapping the Derby requires humility

by | 05.03.2011 | 7:40am

New York Times turf writer Joe Drape reveals his Derby handicapping past – one filled with near-misses, too many forgettable picks and the occasional, seemingly elusive triumph:

Yes, I've been close. I picked last year's winner, Super Saver, to finish second. I wrote that he liked a wet track and had won at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old. Why didn't I have him on top? I had picked the undefeated Barbaro in 2003 and the undefeated Smarty Jones in 2004 in the runner-up slots for the same reason: I thought I could beat the favorite, because I thought I was a genius and this — handicapping horse races — was an easy game.

It was hubris, pure and simple. Do the names Friesan Fire (2009), Pyro (2008) and Nobiz Like Showbiz (2007) ring a bell? I proclaimed each the next Derby champion, and they responded to my publicly declared confidence by finishing second to last, 8th and 10th.

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