Commentary

Pick your pony

Updated: May 5, 2012, 3:07 AM ET
By Amanda Duckworth | Special to ESPN.com

Saturday is Kentucky Derby day. It is also Cinco de Mayo. As the weather inches its way to summer, it might be the perfect time for a party, and if you find yourself heading to such an event May 5, you may need a Derby horse.

Some spend days, weeks even, studying pedigrees, past performances and speed figures while trying to figure out how to bet the greatest two minutes in sports.

But for the procrastinators of the world, sometimes gut feeling has to carry you. If time is running out and you are looking for a less than scientific reason for picking your pony this year, feel free to use the list below to guide you. The horses are listed in order of their post position.

Arachnophobia: If you suffer from a fear of spiders, you might think you need to tune out whenever foreign invader Daddy Long Legs gets some attention on TV. Not so. Well, maybe not. If you want your head to hurt, do a search on whether daddy-longlegs are actually spiders.

Last to first: The Kentucky Derby field is limited to 20 horses, and spots are determined by graded stakes earnings. The last horse to make it into this year's starting gate is Optimizer. Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, who has won four editions of the Kentucky Derby, trains the longshot.

Snake haters: OK, as far as I know, Take Charge Indy is not actually named after Indiana Jones, but I think it every time. The talented colt's father is A.P. Indy and his mother is Take Charge Lady. For those not that familiar with racing, that means both of his parents were fantastic runners. A better pedigree in the field is hard to find.

Civil War: This year marks the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. The fancy word for that anniversary is sesquicentennial. And if you are a war buff looking for a fancy-looking horse, the very handsome Union Rags may be the colt for you.

Irish Legend: Not only did Dullahan's older brother Mine That Bird win the 2009 Derby, but Dullahan packs quite the punch in Irish folklore. According to legend, a dullahan is an Irish fairy tale figure that is usually seen headless, riding a black horse, carrying his/her head under one arm. When the dullahan stops, it is where a person is about to perish. Upon calling their name, they instantly die. There are even more vivid descriptions, but I think you get the point.

Olympics aficionados: Calling all fans of Olympic gold medalist Bode Miller, I have the horse for you! Bodemeister is named for trainer Bob Baffert's son, Bode, who is in turn named for the champion skier. He and Baffert's friendship is well-known.

For the sinners: Need help getting back on the straight and narrow? Maybe Rousing Sermon can get you there!

Shades of gray: Although champion Hansen has drawn plenty of appreciation for his almost white coat, he will not be the only gray horse running in the Derby. Joining him is Creative Cause, and you know what some say … you should never bet against the gray.

Pom-poms ready: In addition to being a longshot, Trinniberg is getting attention for the snazzy attire he wears to the track. His connections stay away from traditional tack and instead bedeck their star horse in a yellow bridle, red reins, and the piece de resistance, a red pop-pom ball on top of his head.

Spell check: As we become ever more dependent on technology, some feel the ability to spell is becoming unnecessary. Just use spell check! If you are afraid a third grader could take you in a spelling bee, maybe consider the charmingly named Daddy Nose Best.

Self-fulfilling prophecy: Should he win on Saturday, Alpha's name will say it all. Happily for his competitors, none of them carry the moniker Omega.

Too close: Sometimes the truth is hard to see, especially if you are stuck in the middle of a situation. The only way to get some Prospective is to step outside of the events and try to take an unbiased look around. Maybe that is what you should do to pick your Derby horse as well.

Take Two: If you liked the connections of last year's Derby winner Animal Kingdom, take another look at Went the Day Well. Same owner. Same trainer. Same jockey. In fact, they are looking to be the first trio like that to win the Derby in back-to-back years since the connections of Riva Ridge and Secretariat in 1972-73.

MMMBop: No, he isn't named after the boy band Hanson, but Hansen (with an e!) might make you think back to 1997 when the song MMMBop was unavoidable. Add in the fact that Hansen is a stunningly handsome horse, he might draw appreciative smiles from the same people that once pretended to hate Hanson but somehow could sing every word of their most famous song. (I am not one of those people.)

Girl's best friend: For those who like sparkly things, Gemologist might be the horse for you. After all, gemologists earn their living analyzing and certifying the characteristics and qualities of gemstones.

Habla Espaņol: If you are looking to add to your Spanish vocabulary on this Cinco de Mayo, El Padrino may be the hunch horse for you. His name translates to godfather, protector, patron or mentor.

Passive aggressive much: For everyone who answers "it's fine" or "I'm OK" when the truth is it is anything but, Done Talking may require a second look. Sometimes, there is nothing left to say.

Feline beat: Horses with "cat" in their names always tend to be popular in Kentucky. Wildcats fans may find their Derby horse in Sabercat this year.

Adult beverage: From time to time, many people enjoy an alcoholic beverage. And sometimes having one leads to having two. If that sounds like you, you might like I'll Have Another.

For papa: Should Liaison win on Saturday, it would be a fitting tribute to his sire, Indian Charlie, who died last December at age 16. A talented runner and successful stallion, Indian Charlie finished third in the 1998 Kentucky Derby. Bob Baffert trained Indian Charlie and will saddle Liaison on Saturday.

Amanda Duckworth is a freelance journalist who lives in Lexington, Ky. Write to her at amanda.duckworth@ymail.com.