All wet

Anybody can pick a favorite.

All you do is what everybody else does, then sit back and enjoy the company. Playing favorites is more like agreeing than picking; and when you lose, there is the majority with whom to commiserate.

Talk about overlooking interesting material to get at a favorite: morning-line pick I Want Revenge, scratched this morning, was loved by many by virtue of a length or so victory over the always arguable West Side Bernie. Now, Delaware Park hoss Friesan Fire is going favored even though it ran third on an off track in New York.

Fake dirt past performances plus a wet track in Louisville equals a 19-horse lottery.

It's slightly logical to go with one of the short prices in the Kentucky Derby because there are so many horses and questions, all payoffs are always impressive. Odds should never chase you off a horse, anyway, as odds are set by people like that pinhead right over there. Odds should put you on horses, because after all, what do idiots know?

It takes a person who is not easily humiliated to pick a long shot, somebody with a sense of humor. But even when you lose by 15, look what you bet, $2. Those people with the favorite who ran fourth bet $300.

Nothing causes long shots to jump out of a Derby hat like changing track conditions.

Wet weather places a premium on handicapping on the fly, in a betting line, even.

Here are a couple of horses with big numbers to think about adding to your Derby stew: Regal Ransom and Desert Party, both of the Godolphin stable, which consists of how many horses now, three, four hundred thousand? Regal Ransom had a showy 2-year-old Beyer, a 93 at Saratoga. He has fine speed, a post in the middle, and has thrown in only one stinker on the fuzz, the fake dirt in LA. And he has improved as the distances increased. Desert Party is in the next-to-last gate and has beaten Ransom two of three times. True, the mile and an eighth time "over there" was a slow 1:50. But as several wise bettors have said, you can't blame a horse for winning; time matters mostly in the slammer.

An obvious off-track play is messing seriously with the mud numbers, which can be found on the upper-right-hand side of the Form past performances. All wet numbers over 400 are considered superior.

What I always do at the Derby is use a short price as a saver, an insurance bet, in this case placing Friesan Fire over some big numbers.

Four top picks to be boxed are Pioneerof the Nile, Dunkirk and the two Godolphins.

And each year before the post, it's always a good idea to thank the millions of really dumb handicappers who continually bet without fail that which shouldn't win; thanks, kids.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com.