Ed. Note: I had asked Kelly to provide a paragraph on the Kentucky Derby for the sign-off portion of this morning’s Daybreak Doppler. As with most people, when you ask them to write about something they love you often get more than you bargained for, in a good way.  When I received & read this last night there was just no way I could bury it at the bottom of a Daybreak Doppler. In Kelly’s inaugural post here, she breaks down the Top contenders in this year’s Run for the Roses & also gives her long shot choice.   You can follow Kelly on Twitter at @KelKelKelKel to get more of her takes on the Derby & instant reaction during the race tomorrow.

Saturday marks the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby. With one of the most talented fields in years, the 2012 Run for the Roses is sure to not disappoint.

Top Contenders:

Bodemeister – Dominated in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and posted the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any horse in the Kentucky Derby field. The experts say it was a fluke and the victory have more to do with trainer Bob Baffert ‘s win streak this spring. He’s a fan favorite and the “hot bet” right now, but may be out of his league in this race. Fun fact, the horse is named after Baffert’s son Bode, who was named after skier Bode Miller.

Dullahan – Looked impressive in his Bluegrass Stakes victory on polytrack, but he is a proven turf horse with lukewarm feelings about running on the dirt. He is a half-brother to 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird. The experts LOVE him.

Gemologist – This undefeated horse has been somewhat overlooked leading up to the Derby. He won convincingly in his only two starts this year – an allowance race and the Wood Memorial. He has the pedigree to get the mile and a quarter, but is very lightly raced and may lack the experience to deal with the big crowd and big field.

Hansen – The little gray colt hasn’t gotten much attention from the press since his 2nd place finish in the Bluegrass to Dullahan on the polytrack at Keenland. The horse loves the dirt at Churchill, where he won the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which should give him an edge.

I’ll Have Another – Connections were not happy with his post position (19 of 20), but this California shipper should look to be a major factor if he can overcome it. He won his last two prep races and will love the distance. I’ll Have Another has been training beautifully with his “mentor”, the champion gelding Lava Man . Expect his odds to go down proportionally to the number of mint juleps consumed.

Union Rags -    Earlier this week trainer Michael Matz said that this colt has trained as well as his beloved Barbaro did prior to his 2006 Kentucky Derby victory. Matz isn’t one to embellish. Union Rags has an excellent post position and the pedigree to go the distance, but his 3rd place finish in his last race, the Florida Derby, is a concern.

And finally, my Derby “dark horse”:

Take Charge Indy – The wire-to-wire Florida Derby winner should look to factor early in the race. He’s breaking from the inside in the number 3 spot with two-time-Derby-winning, Churchill-loving, rail-skimming jockey Calvin Borel.  His past performances haven’t been stellar, and he’ll need a perfect trip, but Take Charge Indy is the most royally bread horse in the Derby and should get the distance. EVERYTHING is going right for this horse.

Two other horses to keep an eye on: Went the Day Well and Alpha

 

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