The RP’s Kentucky Derby Picks

Tomorrow is a quasi-religious holiday in my home state — the one day we put aside our obsession with college basketball, and focus on something truly spiritual:  a two-minute race, involving about 20 three-year-old thoroughbred horses and a bunch of vertically-challenged guys riding on top of them.

Wherever you are, you might have an opportunity to place a small wager on the race, or to select a horse’s name on a piece of paper from a punch bowl at a Derby party.  Because The Recovering Politician‘s mission is to serve our readers with critical information at timely moments like this, our Contributing RPs, the Friends of RP, and even the RP staff have been asked to share their expertise and give you their recommended picks.

(OK, they’ve been bribed:  Winning entries from the RP team will receive a bottle of mint julep mix; the funniest pick wins a box of delicious chocolate bourbon balls.)

So, with all the obvious disclaimers (adults only; gamble in moderation; if you wager at a track, consider your bet a contribution to Kentucky’s struggling horse industry; picking a horse by its color or name is often as effective as studying the Daily Racing Form; females, be sure to wear an outrageous hat to your Derby party–see an example to the right), here is the deeply-educated, passionately-considered handicapping of the RP team:

The RP:  My brother-in-law, Clark Mandel, is a chiropractor who works with horses, and a very serious handicapper.  His picks are in this order: Archarcharch, Pants On Fire, and Soldat.  I will follow his advice, putting my big money ($5) on Pants On Fire because of Jeff Smith’s comment at the bottom of this post.

John Roach:  If the track is dry, I like Mucho Macho Man and Nehro.  For longshot plays, I like Twice the Appeal and Master of the Hounds.

Grant Smith (RP Staff):  I’m going with Twice the Appeal.  Not only is Calvin Borel the jockey, the horse’s position at Gate 3 only increases the odds that Calvin “Bo Rail” will be able to pull off his famous rail-riding antics all the way to victory.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend:  I am going with Twinspired…I like the cleverness of the name…and I have two sets of twins as nieces and nephews, and they inspire me with their grace and ability!

Kristen Hamilton (RP Staff): I love Calvin Borel, but if I were to pick one based on a name, it would be Archarcharch, because that is exactly what I said after taking finals. :/

Andrei Cherny: I say Mucho Macho Man in honor of Arizona’s Hispanic heritage.

Stephanie Doctrow (RP Staff):  My favorite Derby horse has to be Stay Thirsty… I don’t know much about the horses this year, but as an upperclassman at a Big Ten university, I feel obligated to pick the one with that name!

Loranne Ausley:  I was going to go with Watch Me Go as a Florida bred with a female trainer (only 2 female trainers tomorrow making them the 14th and 15th in history of Derby), but I am going with Pants on Fire.  Not Florida bred, but ridden by a female jockey…..if they win, Rosie Napravnik would be first woman jockey to win the Derby!  Only 5 previous female jockeys in the history of the race.  Here is a link to a story in the St. Pete Times Politifact (yes, Politifact has opined on this because “Pants on Fire” is a term of art in their political fact checking world!)

Antics in the Derby infield

Zack Adams (RP Staff): Twice the Appeal.  I’m betting on Calvin Bo-rail, winner of 3 of the last 4 Derbys.

Steven Schulman (Who attended the Derby infield with the RP while in high school):  From personal experience, I can’t say there are horses at the Derby.  But I will pick Mucho Macho Man.  Of course.

Carte Goodwin: When I was living in Atlanta, a radio station used to periodically have a contest called Rock Band or Racehorse.  The DJs would read a name, and callers would have to identify it — say Veruca Salt as a band, or Unbridled as a horse.  So in honor of that contest, Santiva sounds like a good band name (or at least better than Pants on Fire.)

Robert Kahne (RP Staff): Midnight Interlude.  I saw [trainer] Bob Baffert on Jim Rome’s show yesterday, he seemed confident.  Plus, that horse won the Santa Anita Derby, and that’s kind of a big deal (I think).  He’s coming out of the 15 spot, so the crowd probably won’t bother him so much.  And…this is pretty much a shot in the dark.
Mark Nickolas:  I’ve got my money on Archarcharch, who will become the first horse running from the less-than-helpful #1 post position to win the Derby in 25 years.  I suppose three names are better than one…
Jeremy Morris (RP Staff): I’m picking Pants On Fire because one of my favorite Louisville bands in the mid-80s was called “Folks on Fire.”  Also, I love the fact that both the trainer and jockey are women. Finally it’s just a great name for a racing thoroughbred.
Lisa Miller: Pants On Fire because Girls Rock!
Sandra Moon (RP Staff): Originally, I picked Uncle Mo because he has the most unpretentious name, but since he’s scratched, I’m going with Archarcharch because it’s fun to say.
Ronald J. Granieri: I think I have to pick Watch Me Go, if only because that is what my money says to me whenever I place bets…

Chris Schulz (RP Staff):  My pick is Twice the Appeal.  The reason, go back and look at past winners, one maxim holds true: “If it’s good for the wang; it’s good for the ‘stang.”  Many past winners would be something you would name your…ahem…manhood (or womanhood).

Jeff Smith: I’ll take Pants On Fire.  Lying got me an eight-month stay at sleep-away camp; the least it can do to make up for it is get me a bottle of mint julep.


OK, readers, your turn.  Please leave your picks — educated or stupendously silly — in the comments section below.

For guidance, here’s a good listing of the horses in the field. (Note that Uncle Mo is a late scratch, i.e., he is not running.)


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