A  scene from the Investec Derby Festival
A  scene from the Investec Derby Festival|thejockeyclub.co.uk

The Epsom Derby: RT returns to handicap the 13 runners, 7 of whom are trained by Aidan O’Brien

The 240th running goes of at 9 am EDT on NBCSN


The 240th Running of The Epsom Derby
You can catch this on NBCSN at 9 am EDT

In 2000, I was in London on business and it happened to fall during The Epsom Festival. Deciding to go and thinking I could get a scalper ticket, I reneged and called Harrods, ordered one, picked it up, and made my way south to Surrey.

The setting is gorgeous, and the attendance was, if memory serves, around 130,000 people.

The two startling differences were –

a) civility - having gone to the major races in the US, you get accustomed to the drunken stupors people put themselves in and this was nothing like that.

b) the track configuration for this race is like Augusta’s’ greens - undulating. It also has tight, left-handed turns and then it is highlighted by the famous Tattenham Corner, the sharp bend into a long stretch that runs generally downhill until a final 100-meter uphill finish. Odd by our measures, however, I applied the #1 rule for international travel - tell yourself, repeatedly, “it’s not wrong, it’s just different.”

Given the price I paid for my seat, I ended up right on the finish line. Like Edward Bloom in Big Fish,“one thing you can say is that RT is a very social person,” so I started chatting with everyone around me. The pervasive question was…”did you come here just for this race?” To which I replied, “can you think of a better reason?”

Opening the form, I found it like the DRF - easy to read. This is unlike other foreign countries where you cannot get one in English.

After about fifteen minutes, some random guy taps me on the shoulder and tells me that I can bet with him and there’d be no take-out if I wanted to make an exotic wager. I had been to Galway before where wagering with bookies was the norm. I saw an opening as I was looking for a reason to chat with this smokin’ hot woman seated across from me. I asked her…”do you know this guy, or is he some bullshit artist who is going to run away with my money after Sinndar wins? Her reply, whilst sporting a lovely smile, was “how do you know Sinndar is going to win?” I answered, in the general non-low-key American way, “because I am an American ace-stud-handicapper and I know everything.” Everything, she asked?” “Everything,” I answered. She assured me that the gentleman was legitimate and then asked if I intended to share my omniscient knowledge. Sensing other listeners and not giving a care, I inquired if she had to learn Latin in her fine British school and if so, was she taught the term quid pro quo? I got a bigger smile. The women around me all laughed, and the men thought it unfunny that a Yank was easing on one of their own. This was not my first rodeo with British men being jealous and supposedly protective of their lady country persons. Luckily, the waiter just walked by, asked if I wanted anything and, in my booming Yankee accent, “I’m buying everyone a drink that is near me and was laughing.” You would have thought that I was the next coming of Dave Allen because the immediate area started roaring. The waiter tapped me on the shoulder as I was looking at the young lady and he asked…everyone?” - “Yep, everyone.” Then the waiter stared pointing – “Him? Her? Them? Him, too? Her? “ “Yes” “Yes” “Yes.” We toasted, laughed and I made many fast acquaintances and I ended up winning all but one race that day. As for the girl? Let’s just say that things ended well….and Sinndar won at 7-1, then subsequently going on to capture The Arc later that fall.

The Epsom Derby is held the first Saturday of June every year, and like our Triple Crown, it is for three-year olds.’ The other two races, which are for three-year olds’ only as well, are the 2000 Guineas and the Saint Leger. All three are prestigious to capture, however, like The Kentucky Derby, The Epsom Derby is the race that the jockeys, trainers, owners and the public place a sense of greater eminence.

Race 5 The Group 1, £1.6M Epsom Derby
3yo colts and Fillies going 1.5 Miles On Turf

The same distance as The Belmont Stakes and getting the distance is a factor, yet not nearly as big of a factor due to it being on turf.

Trainer Aiden O’Brien, winner of six previous Derbies, is saddling seven of the thirteen entries in this race.

Let’s look at each runner

1 – Anthony Can Dyck (15/1) Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Semie Heffermen up
Had a solid campaign as a two-year-old snagging the Futurity at Curragh and The Tyros stakes, both Group One races. Shipped here for The Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf, went off as the favorite and suffered jet lag. This colt out of Galileo, Aidan O’Briens’ first Derby winner, sat for six months, returned to The Group One Listed Stakes and scored an impressive, going away win.
8:4-1-1 £334,809

2 – Bangkok (8/1) Trained by Andrew Balding, Silvestre de Sousa up
Two back, this Irish bred colt broke his maiden against the second favorite, 13 – Telecaster. A month later, stepping up in class, he took down The Bet 365 Trial coming off the pace and won going away. Stepping up again in class today and will need improvement from the past.|
5:2-1-0 £58,571

3 – Broome (4/1) Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Donnacha O’Brien up (son of Aidan)
Lost to 9 - Madhmoon in his next to last race of the year in 2018, then came back in the Group One Qatar Prix Jean-luc Landere at Longchamp and month later. Ran a gallant race only to beaten by a neck. Was sidelined for six months, entered in The Ballysax Stakes, Group 3, and crushed it, winning by eight lengths. He followed up with another win in The Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial, a Group 3 event. Broome has excellent late kick; we’ll see if he can stay near enough to hit it.
7:3-2-0 £246,320

4 – Circus Maximus (15/1) Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Frankie Dettori up
Another entry out of Galileo, Donnacha O’Brien rode this colt to victory at Galway while running green. Was subsequently entered into The Autumn Stakes at Newmarket summarily beaten like a red-headed stepchild. Came back just two weeks later and moved from off the pace to get up for fourth, by only one length in The Group 3 Futurity at Doncaster. Was shelved for six months and just two weeks ago, he won The Dee Stakes, Series 1, at Chester. This guy is enigmatic enough for me to bet him. Frankie Dettori, who was recently awarded his second Longines Worlds Best Jockey, has ridden for most of the trainers in this race – including John Gosden, on Enable. Gets first time blinkers, or as they’re called across the pond, ‘cheekpieces.’ Speculating, Dettori probably had his choice of horses and selected this one. Interesting.
5:2-1-0 £90,597

5 – Hiroshima (99/1) Trained by John Ryan, Brett Doyle up
There’s a reason he’s 99/1. Pass

6 – Humanitarian (30/1) Trained by John Gosden, Robert Havlin up
Stepping WAY up in class and distance. Pass.

7 – Japan (10/1) Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Wayne Lordan up
Purchased for £1.95M? He damn sure better win and then breed like my kid’s pet rabbit.
Came up short versus 13 – Telecaster last out in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York, he made a strong accounting of himself stretching out and running a little green, all after being in the pasture for eight months. Looking at this as a ‘race to get back out there,’ he took money to 8/1 odds and the cool part was that when prompted, he would not allow others to pass by digging in gamely.
4:2-0-0 £97,046

8 – Line Of Duty (30/1) Trained by Charlie Appleby, James Doyle up
The game notwithstanding, doe this name look familiar? It did to me because he helped me save the train wreck I had in The Breeders Cup this November past. LOD dhd excellent juvenile form by breaking his cherry at Goodward, then shipped to Longchamp and scored the V in the Group 3, 1.25 Mile Prix de Conde. Two weeks later, he nailed the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf at Churchill, then shelved until may 19th. Like the majority of this field, he was beaten in that race by 13 – Telecaster, which was a 1.25 mile. In all candor, this wager will be on the premise of Godolphin and Charlie Appleby are always a threat. Does he want this distance? We’ll see.
6:3-2-0 £591,882

9 – Madhmoon (10/1) Trained by Kevin Prendergast, Chris Hayes up
God love him, trainer Kevin Prendergast, 87 years old and out there giving his all. Madhmoon won his first two races and beat 3 – Broome both times. When brought back in April, he ran a sound race in Ireland going off as the favorite and getting up for place while under a plus three pound penalty. Brought back to Newmarket and entered the, 1.5 mile, Group 1 Chester Vase Stakes where he ended up fourth to a buzzsaw named Magna Grecia (lost last since). Look for him to tale the lead and probably fade off.
4:2-1-0 £159,347

10 – Norway (20/1) Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Jamie Spencer up
One of the more raced horses entered today, six, he took three starts to break his maiden, then stretched out, moved up in class and won. The next race, before calling it a year, was a Group 1 event in France called The Criterium de Saint Stakes and he ran a creditable fourth. In his first, and only, return to racing, Norway was beaten badly by 11 – Sir Dragonet and he may figure in an exotic.
6:2-2-1 £83,536

11 – Sir Dragonet (5/2) Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore up
This is Aidan O’Briens’ best shot at winning as this lightly raced colt is 2-2 thus far. Unraced at two, in his last race, The Chester Vase, at Chester, a tight turned track, jockey Ryan Moore got held up before putting a blaster on the field to win by eight. It was a power surge reminiscent of Arazi in the 1992 Kentucky Derby. Check it out - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgy7P3fnN2M
2:2-0-0 £81,204

12 – Sovereign (50/1) Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Padraig Beggy up
Another 50-1 shot who may go off at 200-1. Pass

13 – Telecaster (9/2) Trained by Hugh Morrison, Oisin Murphy up
Another unraced colt at two years, he has progressed rapidly this year. Losing to Bangkok (8/1) his first attempt, he came back and thrashed the field by nine at Windsor in a mile and a quarter event. Moved up in class and staying at the same distance, Telecaster won his next, and last race, going away in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York. He was supplemented for this race and will be a contender.

3:2-0-1 £126,003

The Epsom Derby Bets:
Mostly lightly raced three-year olds’ going a long way in this, I am going to go with the hot jockey, Frankie Dettori. Frankie just won The Epsom Oaks on Anapurna yesterday and after seeing this jockey’s skills on Enable in The Breeders Cup, I am certain he’ll give Circus Maximus the perfect trip. I also am super impressed with the way Sir Dragonet smoked the field in his last out. So, I am going to wager it this way:

$20/w & $40/p on both Sir Dragonet and Circus Maximus. Then, a $5 Exacta box on Sir Dragonet, Circus Maximus and Telecaster.


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