When taking a look at the 139th lineup for the Kentucky Derby, certainly one thing stands out above everything. This year trainer Todd Pletcher has five horses in the 20-horse field, which ties a record for horses running on the first Saturday in May.
Pletcher has one of the favorites in Verrazano — an undefeated colt who has victories in the Wood Memorial and Tampa Bay Derby under his belt. He’s listed at 4-1, which is slightly behind Orb, who has been installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite.
Verrazano’s resume is impressive with Beyer ratings consistently at 100, which shows a lot. However, if you are inclined to go with this horse and jockey John Velazquez, just remember one thing. No horse that has not run a race as a two-year old has won the Run For the Roses since 1882 (Apollo).
Just want someone to point out the obvious, before you hit the window on Saturday.
Orb is the favorite and has Joel Rosario in the irons, but as for me I have a tendency to shy away from morning line Derby favorites. A lot of that is superstition, granted, but not a lot of favorites win the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports.
What I do like is that those horse are on the outside. I have to say that I think the draw this year set up the field on the outside quite well.
Orb is in the auxiliary gate at 16 and Verrazano is the last horse in the main gate at 14. In between them is Charming Kitten at 15 — a horse I like a lot.
Let me emphasize this — A LOT.
Just to the inside of these is a speed horse in Falling Sky at 13, which is ideal.
While you don’t want to be on the far outside, Charming Kitten with Edgar Prado up should be set up pretty. Over the last 42 years, horses outside of 16 (17 through 20) have won exactly one race from a higher gate draw. That’s bad news for horses like Will Take Charge, Frac Daddy, Java’s War, VyJack and Fear the Kitten. Having said that, Will Take Charge, like Charming Kitten is a closer, and is trained by D. Wayne Lucas.
What’s not to like there?
I was impressed with Charming Kitten in his last race, the Blue Grass Stakes. He was a game third and would have probably won that race were it Kentucky Derby distance. It’s been extremely consistent this year, and in it’s lifetime for that matter. I expect this one to be running hard with the other closers at the end. It could be a real value with a morning line of 20-1, too. For me Edgar Prado is a good fit in the irons. He won the Derby in 2006 aboard Barbaro.
Verrazano, Charming Kitten, Overanalyze (9th), Palace Malice (10th) and Revolutionary (3rd) are all in the barn of Pletcher.
On the inside, Mylute will be interesting to watch because of Rosie Napravnik being the jockey. You probably know by now that a female jockey has never won the Derby before.
Mylute is 15-1 and will come out of gate (6). I’ll bet you that Rosie wins the Derby someday, just not this year I don’t think. Inside of her is Revolutionary (3rd) with Calvin Borel up. I don’t like that position for the horse but I’m sure Bo-Rail won’t mind. Revolutionary is at 10-1. Goldcents at eight is also 5-1 and a good horse, though the jock is not exactly Derby seasoned. However watch that closely because if Kevin Krigger wins it he will be the first African-American jockey to have done so since 1902 when Jimmy Winkfield did it aboard Alan-A-Dale.
Oxbow has Gary Stevens up but is at two and Mike Smith may also be a value aboard Palace Malice (20-1). Normandy Invasion with Javier Castellano aboard may be worth the 12-1 odds at gate five, as well.
The way I see it, this is one of the best Derby fields in recent years. All 20 are at Churchill Downs for Saturday’s race for a reason. I know I’m looking forward to it. I’m guessing mid-to-upper fractions early and then a ton of movement from the back late.
Good luck on Saturday and may the horse be with you.