And Then There Were 20

Checking out the prospective field for this year’s Kentucky Derby, we are reminded of what Cloris Leachman said during one of those Comedy Central Roasts after looking over the dais of celebrities for the event.

“For God’s sake, will somebody please punch me in the face so I can see some stars,” she requested.

We kind of feel the same way about this year’s Run for the Roses.

Of course, it has a hard act to follow. Three years ago it was California Chrome who shot to stardom with his win, then American Pharoah made history in 2015 and the unbeaten Nyquist got the job done last year before dropping off the radar.

Let’s look at 2017.

Classic Empire fittingly resurrected his status as No. 1 contender on Easter weekend with his victory in the Arkansas Derby, but considering the trials and tribulations that preceded that appearance, there is always the chance he’ll bounce higher than an Aroldis Chapman fastball in the dirt.

Then there’s Todd’s squad of Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Captain Boomerang and Killer Croc, oops, we mean Always Dreaming, Malagacy, Patch, Tapwrit and Battalion Runner

The Toddster is the equivalent of a .400 hitter when it comes to Derby preps over the last several years, but on the first Saturday in May he is 1-for-45, with that victory coming with the aptly-named Super Saver.

Will that be 1-for-50 after this year? Stay tuned.

The real upset is that Bob Baffert will not have a starter in the race. He sent out by far the most impressive sophomore we’ve seen this year, but the elation following Mastery’s devastating seasonal debut in the San Felipe lasted only about 10 seconds.

Our guess is this will be the second straight year BB has the best 3-year-old cooling his heels on the biggest day for that group.

Once you get past Classic Empire, Todd’s five-pack, Irish War Cry and McCracken hoping to restore his reputation, you have a half-dozen or so “wise-guy horses” that will be touted by the experts in the 15 to 30-1 range.

The perfect result for us would be Girvin. Can you imagine all the publicity that could be generated with young trainer Joe Sharp, his wife/former rider Rosie and those adorable kids posing with the Kentucky Derby winner?

Even Cloris Leachman would like that.

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ratzkym@yahoo.com @TashmanMortyS