In terms of handicapping the 144th Run for the Roses, naturally the cat is mostly out of the bag given that the top contenders have to put in big performances in Grade 1 races just to get into the line-up; however there is still the possibility of some of these runners showing improved form this Saturday and prep has not gone smoothly for all.
One good thing to keep in mind is the history of the Derby in order to help us to understand what it takes to be a champion – you can check that out here although historical information is only one small piece of the Kentucky Derby puzzle.
Todd Pletcher is a two-time winning Kentucky Derby trainer and has numerous candidates in his barn for this year’s race. He is not alone though with other connections still hopeful of having a Triple Crown contender on their hands too. Here are some of the main hopes and how they got here:
Pletcher is going for a third Derby win as trainer and his Audible provides his best chance on the book. He was a very good three-length winner of the Florida Derby and has been great value in the market in the lead up to the race being around an 8/1 shot now.
Despite seeming to drop back at the 5/8 pole, Johnny Velazquez never showed signs of worry at Gulfstream and drove the horse out for a clear win.
Update: No negatives reported regarding this colt, though his price has drifted in the last week. Check out our odds page for more on that. Gate 5.
Made winter favorite after his Frontrunner Stakes win at Santa Anita back in September and wide-running third at the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Del Mar.
Update: His defeat in the Santa Anita Derby has now led to a market drift from 5/1 second best to 13/2 where he remains now – slightly wide draw too. Gate 11.
Won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year and managed to win his trial – the Bluegrass at Keeneland – but only just having plugged on in workmanlike fashion ahead of Flameaway. It’s hard to not have wanted even more from him last time, though that may prove unfair in time given that he was not fully wound up for the race and his trainer thinks the world of him.
Update: A drifter from 6/1 out to 8/1 last week and available at even bigger now (10/1) but one who put in a smooth piece of work over four furlongs recently and holds every chance. Gate 6.
Sent off the odds-on favorite despite the presence of Bolt D’Oro in the Santa Anita Derby, Justify was very impressive in scoring by an easy three lengths having run wire to wire from stall 6.
This is the strongest form offered up so far and the fact that Justify clearly hasn’t reached a peak yet means he has to now be seen as the best candidate going into the race. Those unraced at 2 don’t do well in this race, but favorites do and he is a genuine one.
Update: After a really smooth and easy piece of work at Santa Anita, Bob Baffert seemed pleased and the colt has hardened even more in the market at 5/2 favorite. Gate 7.
We remarked on our Kentucky Derby Odds page that horses go off strong favorite either because they’re good or because the opposition is weak and that in this case it’s probably the latter where his win in the Arkansas Derby was concerned. That said he has quality and cannot be discounted.
Update: Magnum Moon has been at Churchill Downs for over a week in anticipation of a big run, something reflected in his odds (now 5/1 third favorite) though he has to run wide. Gate 16.
Aidan O’Brien’s Scat Daddy colt won in Dubai by an eased-down 18½ lengths and, while it was by no means a strong UAE Derby, you had to be impressed with his dirt performance and now Ryan Moore is confirmed as his jockey.
Update: It has not been as smooth a prep as O’Brien would have liked after Mendelssohn had to land 125 miles away instead of coming straight into Louisville and travel the rest of the way by road. This means no morning work until least Thursday, though the trainer says he is in great health. 4/1 second favorite, wide gate position. Gate 14.
With the main contenders known and your choices made, you can watch the race live at TVG and place your bets with here with us too. Our race experts will be on hand during the build-up to the race to offer up to the minute analysis of the runners.