Photo: Maryland Jockey Club, Jerry Dzierwinski
Shug McGaughey (6-1)
In the dynamic duo of Top Billing and Honor Code, the trainer of last year's hero, Orb, has a real shot to do it again the 2014 Kentucky Derby.
Todd Pletcher (6-1)
With too many to mention them all, Pletcher is almost certain to start a handful of talented colts in hopes of his second Derby victory. Here are several of his top ones as of today: Commissioner, Havana, Anchor Down, Constitution, Harpoon, Hartford, Intense Holiday, Matterhorn, We Miss Artie, and Vinceremos.
John Sadler (10-1)
Candy Boy is one of my top choices, Kobe’s Back looked great, albeit only at seven furlongs, in the recent San Vicente, and I have not completely forgotten about Kristo yet. Sadler could become a first-time winner of the Run for the Roses.
Bob Baffert (10-1)
With three wins in the Derby already, Baffert came close again two years ago with Bodemeister. As per usual, he has a number of talented young colts in his barn this year, led by Bayern, Chitu, Midnight Hawk, Hoppertunity, and Indianapolis.
Kiaran McLaughlin (12-1)
Cairo Prince is his main hope, but don’t sleep on Baratti who was a good looking maiden winner. I’m not sure if either will get it done on the First Saturday in May, but McLaughlin is a solid trainer worthy of breaking through for his first Derby celebration.
Jerry Hollendorfer (12-1)
His chances of winning his first Derby do not look quite as good as a month ago, with the uncertainty of Shared Belief and the injury to Exit Stage Left, but if the champ can put it all together, he is still a threat. Hollendorfer also figures to have the consistent Cal-bred Tamarando charging late.
Steve Asmussen (15-1)
Tapiture made a statement in Monday’s Southwest Stakes, can another Winchell runner, Gold Hawk, do the same in the Risen Star? The late runner is certainly in with a shot, and both give Asmussen a real chance to collect his first Derby win.
Mike Maker (15-1)
Neither Vicar’s In Trouble, nor General a Rod were high on my radar at the start of the year, but they are now. It will be a pivotal weekend for both, as they look to move closer to giving Maker his first victory in the big one. He has been red hot of late.
D.Wayne Lukas (20-1)
It’s been 15 years since his last victory in the Kentucky Derby, but in Strong Mandate, I think the old ball coach has a big chance at his fifth. Last year’s Preakness victory by Oxbow started the resurgence.
Mark Casse (25-1)
Conquest Titan looks like his main huckleberry, but Casse has a few other bullets in his holster, including Matador, Coastline, and Awesome Sky.
Art Sherman (30-1)
California Chrome is for real, and with another big win in next month’s San Felipe, this veteran trainer could have his first top Kentucky Derby contender.
Chad Brown (30-1)
For a brief moment, it looked like the young conditioner might win his first Run for the Roses with Normandy's Invasion. It was not to be, but there is a lot of talent in his barn including sophomore colts; Bobby’s Kitten, Cousin Stephen, Lawmaker, and Storming Inti.
Doug O’Neill (40-1)
Bond Holder gives me the impression of a Derby horse, but unfortunately his rough plane ride from California to Louisiana has left things in limbo for the top hope for the 2012 Kentucky Derby winning trainer.
Rick Violette (40-1)
Beware the undefeated horse, and as you know, Samraat is still undefeated. I am also willing to give Financial Mogul one more look after an unsuccessful Holy Bull.
Rick Mettee (40-1)
As the trainer of my top dark horse, you knew Rick Mettee had to be on this list. Mexikoma will get a big shot to show off his stuff in an absolutely loaded allowance affair, Saturday at Gulfstream.
Dale Romans (40-1)
Winner of a Preakness with Shackleford, Romans wants to win his first Derby in front of the home crowd. His top prospects this year include: Smart Cover, Cleburne, and Hesinfront.
Tom Proctor (40-1)
Best known for his prowess as a turf trainer, big Tom has several interesting prospects in search of making a run at his first Derby, including: Chelios, Enterprising, and Global View.
All Others (4-1)