Cohen’s Derby news picks

May 6, 2016

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HRU alum Andrew Cohen is still actively involved in harness racing — he’s just much quieter about it. He has young horses with Linda Toscano and broodmares with Steve Stewart at Hunterton Farm and he follows our sport as closely as he did when he wrote about it regularly. He’s also deeply involved in his “day jobs,” one of which is to write a daily newsletter for The Marshall Project, the Pulitzer-prize winning news organization dedicated to the coverage of criminal justice in America. He tweaked his regular morning feature “Opening Statement” this week to focus on some of the best of the media coverage leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Pick of the News

One horse, undefeated, wears the target. Either we’ll be talking about a real Triple Crown repeat come Sunday if Nyquist wins or we’ll be talking about a wide open Preakness and Belmont. Daily Racing Form

Murky, thinner soup. This year’s crop of colts is nowhere near as fast or accomplished as last year’s crop. That doesn’t mean we aren’t in for a great race. Bleacher Report

Lucky Number 13. The favorite, Nyquist, draws the unluckiest number. Here’s how the post-position draw played out. The Paulick Report Related: Eight tips (only eight?) for picking your Derby horse. America’s Best Racing

Wait, so how do horses get their names? Spoiler alert: It’s more complicated than you think. Lexington Herald-Leader

Umpire Analogy, Part II. You think you are nervous making a bet on Derby Day? Trying being one of the stewards who ultimately resolve any disputes that occur during the race. The Paulick Report Related: A quiet groom keeps a Derby horse happy. America’s Best Racing

N/S/E/W

Long-shot Trojan Nation comes East from California looking for respect, if not a paycheck, on Derby Day. 
Los Angeles Times

The Desormeaux brothers, pride of Louisiana’s Cajun country, are aiming for history in this year’s race as trainer and jockey of Exaggerator. New Orleans Times-Picayune

Dennis and Susan Albaugh, the owner of Brody’s Cause, say they will donate his winnings from the race to the Des Moines Area Community College. Des Moines Register

There is a horse from Japan in the big race, only the second-ever Japanese-based horse to run for the roses, and he’s both unorthodox and very fast. Lexington Herald-Leader

For controversial trainer Steve Asmussen, with multiple entries in both the Derby and the Oaks, this is a season for redemption and gratitude. Daily Racing Form Related: Bet the trainer, not the horse. Especially if the trainer is Bob Baffert. New Jersey Star-Ledger

Commentary

It’s Nyquist’s race to lose. Unless it’s not. The final “Derby Dozen,” by Steve Haskin. Blood Horse

Whittling it down to five contenders. Nyquist should win. But there are plenty of reasonable alternatives. By Steven Crist. Daily Racing Form

Soap, suds, and studs. Who is going to win? Let’s go to the final “Bathing Index.” Pull the Pocket

Exaggerator is the one. Why you shouldn’t pick Nyquist to win the big race. Washington Post

How to make money betting Nyquist. Stick your exotics. America’s Best Racing

Etc.

Retiree of the Day: Turns out American Pharoah is a stud at being a stud, too. The New York Times Related: The “Untold Story” of American Pharoah’s Triple Crown win is just that, thanks to a journalist who provides vivid detail on a familiar story. Thoroughbred Daily News

Existential Question of the Day: What do horses think about when they race? Answer: There is no way to know. 
Los Angeles Times

Prudes of the Day: Gone are the days of nude mud wrestlers and streakers on the infield at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. Most people, but not all, think that’s a good thing. Louisville Courier-Journal

History of the Day: “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved,” by Hunter S. Thompson, 1970. Freeshell.org Related: Thompson’s epic piece now is the subject of an ESPN documentary. Newsday

Complaint of the Day: Turns out they don’t make Kentucky Derby bourbon glasses the way they used to– like last year. Louisville Courier-Journal

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