Long before there was ABC’s The Note, NBC’s First Read, and Mike Allen’s Politico Playbook, Washington’s daily tip sheet was The Hotline [Sub. Req.]. And long before I became obsessed with hockey, I haunted the nation’s racetracks – and even worked at a couple of them.
Hotline editors, going back to the Chuck Todd days, started featuring Derby and Triple Crown picks from Washington big shots, then every now and again, lowlifes like myself. If we had a racing blog, we’d post this year’s plays for the Run for the Roses there, but we don’t. Not yet, at least. Saturday’s puck drop will find us at VC for the Caps throttling of the Rags. Saturday’s post time will find us back at HQ, watching, wagering and winning on “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” not including of course, Caps’ OT PKs.
“One of the best Hotline traditions continues. For nearly 20 years, The Hotline has been the exclusive home for legendary political journalist/horse handicapper Jack Germond’s Triple Crown picks. As with all great handicappers, he (and The Hotline) only remembers the years he was right. Also making their annual picks for us: GOP strategist / lobbyist / horse owner Jim Dornan, RealClearPolitics’s Carl Cannon, and Edelman’s media relations VP Craig Brownstein.”
Germond: “Anyone who saw the Arkansas Derby will want to bet the farm on Bodemeister, but to get a decent return you will have to use exacta boxes with such relative longshots as Alpha, Take Charge Indy, or Went the Day Well (with John Velasquez aboard). A year ago, the same strategy with Nehro being wheeled produced an exacta of $329. If Bodemeister doesn’t win, I will enter a monastery or write something nice about Newt Gingrich, whichever is less noxious.”
Dornan: “I’m starting to sound like a broken record when I say that ‘This is the most wide open Derby in years.’ But it is. Again. And I could make a case for 15 of the 20 horses entered in this year’s Run for the Roses, but I won’t, so here goes: I am worried about Union Rags‘ (9-2) ability to go the distance, but he’s showing good form right now and deserves a bet. Dullahan (8-1) came from the clouds in his last race and will be running at the end. Creative Cause (12-1) has been super competitive in California and could surprise. And while Went the Day Well (20-1) is lightly raced, Graham Motion probably has him ready and he picks up Johnny V to ride. He could be a live long shot. Box the four of them in an exacta box and say a prayer to the racing gods. Good luck!”
Cannon: “This seems the deepest crop of 3-year-olds in years, but one with no obvious star, unless it’s Bodemeister or perhaps Union Rags. But it’s the Kentucky Derby, so a mom-and-pop stable has entered a freakishly fast sprinter named Trinniberg. That horse has no shot, but he could really heat up the pace, thus compromising Bodemeister’s chances and Hansen’s — and any others running in the front tier in the early stages. If the race falls apart like that, it might set up the Derby for a fast-closing longshot, such as Dullahan, Daddy Nose Best, or, in a perfect world, Sabercat. Since I have a hefty future bet on that last colt, I’m going to play a modest 4-horse exacta and trifecta, boxing the same four horses: Sabercat, Bodemeister, Dullahan, and the most likely winner: Union Rags.”
Brownstein: “You thought that DC was full of celebrities for the WHCD? A sizable clutch of bold face names will gather under the Twin Spires in Louisville for the 138th running of the Derby: Kate Upton, Ashton Kutcher, QBs Tom Brady and Aaron Rogers, skiers Bode Miller and Lindsey Vonn, and for the gays – Cyndi Lauper. But no matter how hard Guy Fieri, Nick Lachey and Kid Rock vie for attention, the real stars will be twenty precocious three-year olds, and despite their talent, there isn’t an ego among them. This is a deep field and, as always, the most difficult race of the year to handicap. Never mind me picking Herman Cain to go all the way for the GOP, these Derby plays are bank, Swiss bank. For the win I like Hansen (10-1). He won on this strip in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and if the track comes up wet, all the better. For place, I’m going with Union Rags (9-2). He’s a winning machine and may go off as the betting favorite on Saturday. For show, Take Charge Indy (15-1). Expect a ground saving, rail-skimming trip by his jock, Calvin Borel (aka Bo-rail) in the irons. But what’s most important on race days, especially in the wake of this week’s House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee hearing on safety issues in racing, is that all the athletes, equine and human, make it home safely. Good luck players.”