The buildup has been consistent for months and it is finally time for the horses to get into the gate. The countries best horses have danced around and to each other for months. There is no more running, it is time for the 2015 Kentucky Derby. That glorious time of year is once again upon us, the Sport of Kings has returned to the forefront, the first Saturday in May means the Run for the Roses and the beginning of the Triple Crown season.
All the prep races are over and for many owners, trainers and horse racing enthusiasts this is the culmination of a journey that began three years ago. Some horses might not have raced as two year olds while others have been stamped for success since birth with incredible bloodlines that came with high price tags. The points have been earned, the entry fees are paid, and the lights are shining on the Kentucky Derby. Triple Crown fever are upon us.
Some of you might have the thoroughbreds you like, dislike and are on the fence about. Others might have been reading about feel good stories, incredible morning workouts, numbers that are too good to be true or even names that are just too cute to pass up. Are the speed figures confusing, are the dosage numbers overwhelming or is it the pedigree that is just too confusing?
Below is a simple breakdown of each horse that is slated to enter the starting gate this Saturday. What you will see is not a complete stat sheet for each horse since you can get that from Daily Racing Form or Equibase. Instead it is my evaluation summed up to help each of you make a decision when you walk to the window, the machine or click a mouse to make a wager on the 141st Kentucky Derby.
Race: Kentucky Derby (G1)
Location: Churchill Downs
Distance: Mile and a quarter
Purse: $2,000,000 – Winner Earns $1,240,000
Age: 3 Year Olds
Date: Saturday, May 2 2015
Post Time: 6:24 PM ET
TV Coverage: NBC 4:00 – 7:30 PM ET
Updated to reflect the scratchs of Stanford, El Kabeir, International Star, and the addition of Frammento.
|1||50-1||Ocho Ocho Ocho||Trujillo||The plus is he won all three starts as a 2 YO. The down side is he has looked outclassed and outmatched in the San Felipe and Blue Grass. There is nothing that says he is rounding into any form other than one that puts him near the back of this field.|
|2||8-1||Carpe Diem||Velazquez||The plus numbers.. 4-for-5 lifetime with only loss against insane run in BC Juvenile by Texas Red. He looked much the best in both 3 YO starts. The negative…his speed numbers do not put him at the top of the competition. So do you believe he is to slow, will post 2 kill him or is it all for not. Somewhere in the middle lies the answer.|
|3||12-1||Materiality||Castellano||Won the Florida Derby battle against Upstart to head into the Kentucky Derby undefeated at 3-for-3. But that also means that the talented horse lacks experience. Never raced at 2 and breaking from the inside when this field comes crashing down at the first turn could prove problematic.|
|4||30-1||Tencendur||Franco||Honestly he has never run a "bad" race and finished 2nd to Frosted in the Wood Memorial. While he is improving, I am just not comfortable backing an horse off a Wood performance. But.. He could be a flier.|
|5||30-1||Danzig Moon||Leparoux||1 lifetime win to break maiden. First stakes start was the Tampa Bay Derby where he finished 12 behind Carpe Diem but cut that gap more than half in the Blue Grass. Appears slower than many but with the right trip, Leparoux could find a way to get a minor prize here.|
|6||20-1||Mubtaahij||Soumillon||Travels from across the pond after a dominant win in the UAE Derby. Has raced well since switching to dirt. However, the class in the Derby is superior to anything he has ever seen. The class and travel for first US start are a lot to ask of any horse especially in the Kentucky Derby.|
|7-SCRATCHED||30-1||El Kabeir||Borel||Well raced and had a big win in the Kentucky Jockey Club over the surface. He joins with Calvin again and that is never a bad thing. But… the distance is a question and the only Gotham winner to win the Derby is Secretariat. Excuse me if I don't see that same talent in him. For me he is a factor until the top of the stretch.|
|8||3-1||Dortmund||Garcia||What can you say? The pedigree says the distance should not be of concern. He is 6-for-6 lifetime. He has won going away and has won in a dog fight. He is a large and impressive horse. But.. He will not have the stature to wiggle through and the 13.1 final eighth of the SA Derby is not rocket fuel but it was well in hand. He prefers the front and something tells me trouble is brewing but can it knock him from the money?|
|9||30-1||Bolo||Bejarano||A turf original does not mean a poor run in the Derby. In fact, you can find Animal Kingdom and the late Barbaro as examples. However, his runs at the San Felipe and SA Derby yielded 3rds to horse inside him. Plus is distance is no concern at all and adding Bejarano is not a bad move. Could be nice at a price if everything goes perfect.|
|10||12-1||Firing Line||Stevens||Come up short in head to head with Dortmund twice. Instead of SA he chose the Sunland Derby where he crushed by 14+ and set the track record. He has never finished worse than second and never lost by more than a half length. Stevens has the mount but there are pedigree issues. Regardless, if you like Dortmund at short price you must love Firing Line at probably 13-1 or greater at the gate.|
|11-SCRATCHED||30-1||Stanford||Geroux||Was unlikely but last work had Pletcher put him in. Just missed in the Louisiana Derby and finished 5+ behind Materiality in March. AP Indy in the bloodlines is an obviously plus. However, if he could not hold off in last two it is hard to imagine him holding off this field. I will pass.|
|12-SCRATCHED||20-1||International Star||Mena||Probably will fly under the radar here. Swept Louisiana this year and is a perfect 3-for-3 with jockey Miguel Mena on the mount. A formidable sire in 2000 Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. He will be coming late but can he avoid traffic? He will not be afraid to squeeze through the rail. You will get a price if you believe he can find room.|
|13||30-1||Itsaknockout||Saez||3-for-3 lifetime (if you count the DQ) heading into the Florida Derby. Many liked his chances and progression. However, he then finished 4th in the Florida Derby. Can you throw that out? It is hard when it was 4th by 21 to a 12-1 M/L shot here.|
|14||50-1||Keen Ice||Desormeaux||Curlin's son has not won in his 3 YO campaign, twice losing to International Star. 1-for-7 lifetime makes you wonder if the closer wants more than a minor award each start. But he will be running late and 1 1/4 miles is in his wheelhouse. If he gets clear room you could find him rounding out a tri or super at massive odds.|
|15||15-1||Frosted||Rosario||Minor surgery has helped the youngster break through in the Wood Memorial with an impressive performance. However, while not laying duds he has not been his best each time. Add in the 0-for-the-board since 2003 for Wood runners in the Derby and I will let him and Rosario surprise me.|
|16||50-1||War Story||Talamo||Never worse than third but has never "stepped up" against bigger competition. International Star has owned him and he is 20-1 M/L. Sorry no Mine That Bird here and Talamo waits again.|
|17||50-1||Mr. Z||Vazquez||it is true that he is seasoned with 12 starts but only one of those is a win. I have been vocal for months that this is a horse destined to be a G3 or G2 talent. Sorry there is virtually no chance short of a meteor shower that takes out about 15 of the other horses.|
|18||5-2||American Pharoah||Espinoza||What can I say. He has been a top my Power Rankings since January and has never budged. He has yet to be tested this year winning all races in dominant fashion. He also proved in the Arkansas Derby that he can rate and get the job done which will be paramount breaking from post 18. Many do not like the post draw but I think breaking with everything to his inside will allow him to float the three path into the first turn and drastically limit any bumping to mess up the stride. He IS the one to beat.|
|19||15-1||Upstart||Ortiz||He runs big and he runs big every time. Lost on a DQ in Fountain of Youth (Which is still a bad call) and then fell just short against Materiality in the Florida Derby. His closing was slow but that Gulfstream track was heavy and slow and the two were still well clear of the field in basically a match race. He has speed for the front, can rate or can track the field which will be needed from this post. He has a very real shot here.|
|20||30-1||Far Right||Smith||Another closer who will be hoping for a pace meltdown considering the field. He will try every time out but was a distant second to American Pharoah in the Arkansas Derby. Can't go wrong with Smith aboard. He likes Churchill Downs but will have traffic like many here. Could hit the board.|
|21||50-1||Frammento||Nakatani||Added with the scratch to Stanford. Distant in the Fountain of Youth and most recently the Blue Grass Stakes. Nothing more than a pace victim. Sorry it is the reality unless the gods shine down in some miraculous way.|