Sure, you could research which horses are in the best position to win the Kentucky Derby, but you could also choose entirely at random and still stand a chance at being right. Even better, substitute "you" for "a cat," and the level of accuracy is just about the same. We hope, anyway, as we've decided to let my cat predict the winner of the 2015 Kentucky Derby.
Meet Winifred Burkle, or Fred for short:
This isn't Fred's first sports prediction, you know. Last spring, she -- along with Kitty Sanchez -- correctly chose UConn as the eventual 2014 NCAA National Champion. The year before that, Kitty tried her paw at predicting the MLB season, and while there were some misses, she did a better job of guessing where the eventual champion Red Sox would finish than basically every human who attempted it, and that wasn't the only thing she nailed that the pros missed.
So, the cats have been pretty good at predicting what humans would do. Now it's time to see how they do with some fellow four-legged friends. The Kentucky Derby will be all Fred, while Kitty Sanchez predicted the Pacquimeow vs. Meowweather fight.
Attempting to find and race 20 cats all dressed up in the horses' respective jockey colors just wasn't feasible, so instead, we went for the next best thing: Fred eating treats off of the horses' respective jockey logos.
The horses were broken up into four groups of five each, and Fred would pick one horse from each group, giving us four horses coming down the stretch. Or the closest approximation we could get, anyway. Then, those four horses would be pitted against each other on a different sheet, with Fred narrowing four down to three, then three to two, and then finally giving us a winner. So, she didn't just predict the winner for you, she also got you the top four. Pretty thoughtful for a cat, right?
The first group featured International Star, Dortmund, Carpe Diem, American Pharoah and Frosted. Fred surveyed the field briefly, and made her decision.
Carpe Diem is the first to take a lead on the field! Group two featured Mubtaahij, Materiality, El Kabeir, Upstart and Far Right. Fred must be liberal, because she went to the complete opposite side of the sheet from Far Right, allowing Mubtaahij to join Carpe Diem in the lead.
Group three included Itsaknockout -- you know spaces are allowed, right? -- Firing Line, Danzig Moon, War Story and Tencendur. There was nothing I wanted more than for a horse named "Danzig Moon" to win, if only for the imagery, but alas, Fred was feeling Tencendur. Last was group four: Stanford, Mr. Z, Ocho Ocho Ocho, Bolo and Keen Ice. Mr. Z's treat was the one that caught Fred's eye, and we had our four horses.
The one concern going into this using this format was that Fred could just go right up the middle every single time, since she was held in that position while treats were put on the horse sheets. Instead, she ended up going for a different spot in each group each time. Good kitty.
A second, different sheet was introduced, to keep Fred from having to stray too far left or right in order to make her decisions.
Now, a new fear arose: three treats would be in Fred's view before she ever got near poor, lonely, Carpe Diem. She came through again, though, validating the entire system, by selecting Tencendur first, doubling back for Mr. Z, then going up top to grab Carpe Diem.
We're left to assume that Mubtaahij just got a little tired and drifted towards the rail during the stretch. (Thank you, glossary of horse racing terminology.)
The process was repeated, and this time it was Carpe Diem who began to lag behind as Tencendur and Mr. Z opened up a lead. It is now time for the literal photo finish to end the 2015 Kentucky Derby predictions:
Fred was getting a little full of treats at this point, but somehow adding more treats to the mix is what enticed her to get back to the sheet and make the final call. Mr. Z, you're Winifred Burkle's pick to win the 2015 Kentucky Derby. Can we see a replay of that?
Sorry, all you other horses, but the decision has been made. If you're the gambling sort, we can't think of something more ridiculous to bet on than the picks from a two-year-old cat. If you need that sort of rush from your weekend:
- Mr. Z
- Carpe Diem
Good luck, Mr. Z! You'll need it, since your gate gives you terrible odds to win.