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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

2014 Kentucky Derby: Handicapping the Trainers

Trainer Shug McGaughey meets with the media at Pimlico Race Course on Monday, May 13 for Saturday’s $1 million Preakness Stakes (G1)..
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) 

 

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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Handicapping the Trainers...

I think he was dropped from the individuals, 7 horses were. He is still in the field which is 6-1
I didn't see honor code in the early derby pools. Is he ok?
Not falling into your grandstander trap, Jay Trotter__ ONLY after all the preps are over can you BEGIN to think you know :D
Spill it Nathan.The Mountain climber, ex city of Nagurski QB or could it be the leader of our Naval Fleet. Which one ??????????????????????
O'Brien yes, as long as Pletcher or Baffert don't beat him with another Coolmoore colt :)
wouldn't it be nice to see a little guy surprise everyone!
Don't forget about O'brien its only a matter of time before he takes out this race hes getting closer to having the measure of your top dirt horses
I'll take 4-1 on All Others!
EVERY year, TOP TO BOTTOM , there are good to very good to great trainers in the Derby. THEY are competent, they know their colts, but THEY are not running. LOuie Roussell, Cam Gamboliti, David Frost, Lynn WHiting, all competent trainers but yu would COMPLETELY MISS THEM looking at their record over the colts. Hell before old Buddy Delp, no one would have looked at him either based upon this evalutaon. THe HORSE is what you look at.
I am hoping for Baffert or Sadler.
It's very telling that Lucas is 20-1 on the strength of one single horse and Shug is 6-1 on only two.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.