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Ben Smith

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Associated Press
Frac Daddy is a 50-1 long shot to win Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, but the horse’s backstory will have you rooting for him and his owners in the first race of the Triple Crown.

Bet on long shot with great story

Well, there goes that grand plan. Apparently, My Friend Flicka isn’t running the Kentucky Derby this year.

I’ve been all up and down this entry list, see, and MFF is nowhere to be found. Ditto Seabiscuit. Ditto Trigger, Francis the Talking Mule or Mister Ed.

(Although I once had a couple of extended conversations with his smart-aleck son, Mister Ted, who wised off one too many times and wound up holding together some second-grader’s art project. If you know what I mean).

So who does that leave?

I’m no horse guy – I used to think breezing a mount meant you stood him in front of a fan for a few hours – but everyone seems to like Orb, the 7-2 favorite who apparently had a couple of workouts this week that were jet-propelled. And then there’s Verrazano, who’s won four times this year, including the Wood Memorial, and has the same name as both an Italian explorer and a gorgeous winery I once visited in Tuscany.

So he’s got that going for him.

I wouldn’t pick either of those horses, however.

That’s because the favorites hardly ever win the Derby; only three times since 2000 and five times since 1979 has the betting favorite carried off the roses. Usually it’s some who’s-that like Mine That Bird (a 50-1 shot in 2009) or Giacomo (same odds in 2005), or your occasional Funny Cide or I’ll Have Another, your 2012 winner at 15-1.

(You can look all that up, by the way. I had to.)

Anyway, … you can have your Orb and your Verrazano. I’ll keep looking.

I kind of like Goldencents, mainly because if he wins it’ll make history. A Virgin Islander named Kevin Krigger’s the jockey, and if Goldencents wins Krigger will become the first African-American to win the Derby in 111 years. That was a long time ago, even by the Derby’s 139-year standards.

Or you could go with Revolutionary, if only because Calvin Borel’s the jockey, and Calvin Borel winning is more fun than puppies on Red Bull. The guy’s just, you know, excitable. And his knack for finding a hole along the rail will serve him well aboard Revolutionary, an apparently notorious slow starter.

Or you could go with another one of Todd Pletcher’s 150 entries (or so it seems), like, say Palace Malice. Mike Smith’s the jockey. He’s a former Derby winner, and he’s in the Hall of Fame. Can’t go wrong there.

There’s a lot of others here – Will Take Charge, D. Wayne Lukas’ horse, and Vyjack, and two horses (Fear The Kitten and Charming Kitten) with “kitten” in their names. There’s a horse named Normandy Invasion and another horse named, ominously, Itsmyluckyday.

I’m not taking any of those.

I’m taking Frac Daddy.

Yeah, he’s a 50-1 shot, like that’s ever stopped a Derby winner before. But his backstory is pure gold: The owners are two racing wannabes named Carter Stewart and Ken Schlenker, a couple of oil guys from Billings, Mont. Their previous horses ran on a track in Montana that no longer exists. Now they’re in the Derby.

Gotta love that.

And so, … here’s my two bucks, boys.

Yeah, that’s right. I’m going all in.

Ben Smith has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1986. His columns appear four times a week. He can be reached by email at bensmith@jg.net; phone, 461-8736; or fax 461-8648.

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