First off today, a shameful admission: The Kentucky Derby took me completely by surprise this year.
It came creeping in on little horse feet, leaving me no time to wax lyrical about the best sporting event in the world of which I know practically nothing. I didn't get to talk about the twin spires ("Look! There's two of 'em!"). I didn't get to make the usual jokes about the Kentucky Colonels ("Kentucky Colonels? You mean like Artis Gilmore?"). I didn't get to mention that song by Dan Fogelberg, or those hats designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, or the peculiar joys/torments of the worst mixed drink ever conceived by man, the mint julep.
(It's a cocktail! It's cough syrup! It's two mints in one!)
Anyway ... here we are two days from post time, and the Blob's got nothin'. It hasn't told you who the favorite is. It hasn't told you who the favorite should be. It hasn't offered the kind of intelligent analysis you've come to expect from a guy who once got his Derby intel from a talking horse.
(Mr. Ted, 2000-2012. RIP, Big Mouth)
And so, without further ado ...
A few observations:
1. Hey, look, it's a horse named after a hockey player!
No, I'm not kidding. The horse's is name is Nyquist, and he's the favorite, and he's won a bunch of races in a row, like, I don't know, seven, maybe. He's brown. He's named, no lie, for Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist. And did I mention he's brown?
2. Hey, look, it's a horse who hasn't raced in eight weeks!
That would be Destin. He's got no chance. No, not because he hasn't raced in eight weeks. I saw a picture of him, and he's gray. Never bet on a gray horse. They're frequently Alpo.
3. Suddenlybreakingnews is an awesome horse name.
I mean, come on. It is. Plus he's a 20-1 shot out of the not-great No. 2 post position, so you could make some serious coin on him if he wins.
4. Mor Spirit is the horse to bet on if you don't want to bet on Nyquist, and also if you can't spel.
He's pretty good, I hear. Also he has the correct number of legs, four, and a mane and a tail. Also he's not gray.
5. Apparently there are an inordinate number of mutts in the field this year.
The field, as a whole, is generally slower than erosion. There are a few OK horses, like Creator, Moyhamen and My Man Sam. Out of that group, I'd go with My Man Sam. Especially if your name is Sam.
6. Speaking of mutts ... Hey, look! It's Trojan Nation!
The first horse in Derby history to get into the field with a fake ID (or so I suspect), Trojan Nation has yet to win a race. He's a 50-1 shot. And he's starting in the Position of Death, aka, the No. 1 slot next to the rail. I'd put a bundle on him.
7. Victor Espinoza is the man.
If you bet jockeys, he's the guy to bet on. He's won the last two Derbys. He's going for four Derby wins overall. He goes off at 20-1 aboard Whitmore, who, as far as I know, is not named for the actor James Whitmore. So there you go.
And, there you have it: Your Kentucky Derby primer. But, wait, you say. What about the incredibly bad betting advice the Blob always gives out, on account of the Blob doesn't know anything about betting on horse racing?
OK, here's a name: Tom's Ready.
He's going out of the 12 hole. He carries 30-1 odds. He's Ready (because why would you name him Tom's Ready if Tom wasn't Ready?), and his trainer is Dallas Stewart -- about whom I know nothing except that he looks like a horse trainer, or at least what I imagine a horse trainer should look like.
Oh, yes: And the "Tom" in his name alludes to his owner, Tom Benson, who also owns the New Orleans Saints. And Tom could use a break after the way the Saints pooped the bed last fall.
Yes, sir. Tom's Ready is your horse.
Ready, set, go.
That's how they send 'em off, right?