Just a fancy way of saying the "Next to Last" Derby Dozen is upon us. And just like in the movie Major League, featuring catcher turned commenter Bob Uekcer calling a pitch "just a bit outside" as it sails six feet out of the strike zone, the Road to the Kentucky Derby has become just a little wild and wooly. Who's the top choice, after Uncle Mo disappointed at 1-9, you ask? Depends on who's giving the answer. For those of us compiling the Derby Dozen every three weeks, you'll see seven different horses receiving first place votes!
What I don't understand are those still believing in Uncle Mo. Listen no offense, but the horse wanted nothing to do with the final furlong and was overtaken by two far less accomplished colts. There is no question the son of Indian Charlie is too light on training and Todd Pletcher simply doesn't have enough to time to change the plan to get the horse "race ready" for the Derby. The whole two-prep plan is totally overrated and leaves absolutely no room for error. Carl Nafzger, a class act and trainer, created a plan that paved the way for the first and only, Breeder's Cup Juvenile/Kentucky Derby winner in Street Sense. But that plan was for one horse, not a roadmap for all to follow.
The Factor has raced five times since December, which equals Uncle Mo's lifetime starts over his nine-month career. Unlike Pletcher, Bob Baffert has worked The Factor hard and will have sent him to and from Arkansas twice before the Derby. Even without a win in Arkansas, I feel he is far more accomplished than his East Coast counterpart - road tested, brought along through actually running a string of races grouped together and showing the talent and heart of a champion. If you're not questioning Uncle Mo's heart and fitness right now, your either blind or far too naive.
As far as any dark horses at this point - just about any two out of 25 horses running in the Arkansas Derby and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes - pick one, any one. For me, I like Caleb's Posse to give a good showing in the Arkansas Derby. He was the only horse running at The Factor in the Rebel and the stretch out in distance plus the potential for some pace pressure for The Factor give's this son of Posse a strong chance despite possible distance limitations. Heck, he'll be making his 10th start to boot!