By Gene Kershner
In November, the Racing Kreskin reviewed his 2013 racing predictions where he fell well short of expectations after a solid 2012 year where he batted .500. The 2013 dip was significant as we missed our first eight selections and were looking to get off the duck at the Breeders' Cup with the final two projections. Luckily we nailed both to reach the Mendoza Line and give the Racing Kreskin some hope for 2014.
So 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 upcoming 2014 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…
1. A filly from the west coast will win the Kentucky Oaks. Last year, Princess of Sylmar captured the Oaks at 47-1 from the east coast. Sorry to go all 2Pac and Biggie on y'all, but it's the west coast's turn to win the Oaks.
2. The Kentucky Derby winner will come from gates 4 through 7. This is a bit of a stretch, and I could have gone with the inside and included the inner three gates, but we know that's most likely not going to happen. We're narrowing our odds here, but we're talking Racing Kreskin here, not Jimmy the Greek.
3. The Derby winner will come out of the Wood Memorial. It's been a long time since the Wood produced a Derby winner. You have to go back 13 years to Fusaichi Pegasus as the last winner. Three of the last five years' winners have been Derby threats, although two (I Want Revenge and Eskendereya) never made it to the gate.
4. The trainer of the Derby winner will claim his first. So what I'm saying here is no Baffert, no Pletcher, no D. Wayne, and no Shug. Jerry Hollendorfer, anyone?
5. A colt will win two of the three Triple Crown races. Wait, what? No Triple Crown again? Not only that, we're looking at two of three. Opens the door for an Afleet Alex type (Preakness-Belmont) or a disappointing failure in the Belmont, most likely.
6. Roger Attfield wins a record ninth Queen’s Plate. The Canadian and U.S. 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. Attention: This is a repeat selection, for those wondering if I was getting lazy.
7. Joel Rosario wins the riding title at Saratoga. He was red-hot going into the Spa meet in 2013, after winning the Dubai World Cup and the Derby, but finished third with 41 victories behind Castellano (66) and Velazquez (46). Castellano will be tough to beat and who knows how Johnny V responds in his recovery from his spleen removal. It's Joel's time.
8. The Haskell Hat is Green. It's been dark colors for the past five years. Green has been off the rotation since 1997 and has to be back this year. It has shown up on the brim in 1999 and in the stitching in 2007, but that doesn't count. Upset possibilities: white (2007) and yellow (2002).
9. A track other than Santa Anita or Churchill will be awarded the 2015 Breeders’ Cup. It’s been a two-track rotation for seven straight years. This means we're projecting the folks at Breeders' Cup Ltd. going back to the origins of the concept and looking to rotate the Cup away from the big three (including Belmont). This projection has the least likely chance for success.
10. The Classic winner will go off between 5-1 and 10-1. So we're saying the post time favorite won't win and it'll likely be a horse going off as the third to sixth choice on the board, but not a long shot. I like our chances here.
That’s it for the Racing Kreskin, 2014. We made some bold predictions, but no one said this job was easy. Look for my year in racing review in print editions this weekend.