By Gene Kershner
A few weeks ago we reviewed our 2012 racing predictions where we batted a rock solid .500 looking back at the results from the now complete thoroughbred racing season. As we approach the new year, it’s time to pull out the crystal ball and start channeling our inner Kreskin to take a look at the coming 2013 racing season. We’ll keep some of the staples in the mix (you’ll recognize them) and add a few new twists this year. So without further adieu, Mr. Kreskin…
-- Ramon Dominguez will win the jockey title at the inner meet at the Big A by at least 25 victories. In 2010, he won it by 29, in 2011 by 57 and last year he lost by one to Cornelio Velasquez. This question came up during an interview on Capitol OTB-TV earlier in the week when I was challenged by the hosts to put this one into this year’s prognostications. Game on.
-- The Derby winner will come from a middle post. We’re calling the middle gates anything from eight to 14 as the outside gate houses posts 15 through 20. We nailed this one this year from the outside gate so I’m going with the odds that we’ll shift inside in this year’s Run for the Roses.
-- The Derby winner will come out of the Arkansas Derby. I’ve gone with the Florida Derby the past two years, and the Arkansas Derby has given us some solid Triple Crown performers over the past ten years (Bodemeister, Curlin, Afleet Alex and Smarty Jones), so we’re looking for Oaklawn to give us this year’s Derby winner.
-- There will be an inquiry or objection in one of the three Triple Crown races. We haven’t had a stewards’ inquiry or jockey objection in recent memory in one of the Triple Crown races. We haven’t had much controversy on the Triple Crown trail, I’m banking on 2013 to be the unlucky year.
-- The Derby winner will not run again in 2013 after the Preakness. Whoa. No Triple Crown again? Not only that, he’s done for the year. I hope this one doesn’t come true, but my crystal ball says one and done.
-- Roger Attfield wins a record ninth Queen’s Plate. The Hall of Famer is currently tied with Harry Giddings, Jr. for the top spot atop the trainer category for Plate victories. I watched his last win at venerable Fort Erie Race Track on the simulcast in 2008 when Not Bourbon helped him tie the record.
-- The Haskell Hat is white. I’ve given up on yellow (it’s been since 2002). For a number of years it was the color of the previous year’s winner, but in 2009 they actually asked the fans to name the color. I’m looking for a potential gimme here with the color white, which goes with just about anything.
-- Churchill Downs will be awarded the 2014 Breeders’ Cup. It’s been a two-track rotation for six straight years. I’m doubling down that the BC Board loves those big Churchill crowds and handle numbers to return under the Twin Spires in ’14.
-- The post time favorite will finish off the board in the Classic. On average the favorite wins 33 percent of the time and finishes second half of the time, so I’m going out on a limb on this one. Game on Dude would have held serve for me here, but will it happen in back-to-back years? I say it will.
-- A 3-year old will finish first or second in the Classic. We haven’t had a solid 3-year old finish in the Classic since Curlin won it at Monmouth in 2007 and Raven’s Pass upset him in 2008 on the Pro-Ride synthetic surface. I’m counting on a good class of 3-year-olds with a late maturing colt threatening to win the big one at Santa Anita.
That’s a wrap on my 2013 predictions for 2013. We mixed it up a little from prior years and have challenged ourselves with some bold predictions. No easy pickings like Pletcher winning the Saratoga training title this year. We’ll see if we can uphold our .500 mark of 2012 next year. Look for my year in racing review in print editions of The Buffalo News this weekend.