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2014 Kentucky Derby Analysis & Predicted Finish for all 19

 

Christmas has finally arrived for thoroughbred horseplayers everywhere. Churchill Downs is to horse racing as Augusta National is to golf, as Daytona Speedway is to NASCAR, and as the Rose Bowl is to College Football. Rain or shine, nothing will dampen our enthusiasm come 6:24pm EDT on Saturday as we watch the most exciting 2 minutes in sports, the Kentucky Derby (G1)


The forecast for the Louisville area is for Partly Cloudy skies on Friday through Post Time on Saturday, high 69 degrees with just a 10% chance of precipitation. That’s great news and/or those who perform less than their best when the track is anything but fast.

On Thursday, #11 – Hoppertunity was SCRATCHED due to a bruise on his front left foot, reducing the field to 19 as #21 – Pablo del Monte, the only one on the Also-Eligible list elected not to run. The balance in this 19 horse field is uncanny as far as their running styles...

4 – Early Speed

5 – Tactical Speed (Stalker)

6 – Mid-Pack

4 – Closers

There are many schools of thought when it comes to handicapping the Kentucky Derby. The sheer size of the field itself can be overwhelming. Every runner has his positives and negatives. The key is to somehow pull it all together then imagine how the race will be run.

With that being said, and my past performances marked up as if a pre-school class were turned loose on them, here’s HOW I SEE IT (the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands) playing out, listed in my predicted order of finish. Odds shown are the current betting odds after Friday’s advanced wagering.

Keep in mind I'm picking horses nearly 48 hours BEFORE they walk out on the track. If at all possible, you should not make your wager until you’ve seen the horses in the Post Parade (12 minutes before the start). When horses reach the track, their physical appearance and body language can tip you off on which one(s) to include in your Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta or simply WIN, PLACE and/or SHOW bet. Good Luck!

1st -#4 – Danza
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Todd Pletcher / Joe Bravo (2 0-0-0)
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: Took a huge step forward by winning Arkansas Derby in convincing fashion for the first time going 2-turns. Derby will be his 3rd race off a layoff (great angle) and many improve in their second distance race. If that’s the case here, we might see something special on Saturday. What makes that performance stand out is he ran it just a tick slower than 2013 Eclipse Award Champion 3-year-old Male, Will Take Charge had just run 50 minutes earlier. His final tune-up over the CD surface (4f in 48.80) was visually impressive as have been his gallops this past week.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: With only 4 career races under his belt, he lacks the experience to deal with issues that will occur in a 20-horse field. Carries 8lbs. more than he ever has in a race, while most of his foes have been carrying higher weights and will only add 3-4 lbs. That’s a huge obstacle when talking about having to run the longest race of your young career.
Early Betting Odds : 8-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 8-1

2nd - #3 – Uncle Sigh
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Gary Contessa / Irad Ortiz (1st Derby)
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: Draw a line through his last race (Wood Memorial) as he hesitated leaving the gate, then was 4-wide throughout. Prior to that he got the short end of two battles with then undefeated Samraat. So what makes him a player here? Blinkers! Since adding them in the A.M. he’s been a more focused horse. Saw it firsthand this week. On Thursday during his 2-mile gallop, both times he passed by he couldn’t have blown out a match. That’s how Golden Soul looked last year when I picked him in my Top 3 at a price (34-1).
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Only one NY-bred (Funny Cide in 2003) has won the Derby. Jock has no Derby experience. Nothing in his young riding career can compare to the daunting task of negotiating a clean trip for 10 furlongs on the 1st Saturday in May. He’s still eligible for N2L (non-winners of 2 lifetime).
Early Betting Odds : 22-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 30-1

3rd -#16 – Intense Holiday
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Todd Pletcher / John Velazquez (15 1-1-0)
Running Style: Closer
Why he COULD win the Derby: Been turning heads in the A.M. at Churchill Downs; bred to handle the classic distance; had impossible tasks in LA Derby (when 2nd) trying to catch pace setter into slow fractions and was only runner to close ground in Holy Bull over the speed favoring Gulfstream Park surface. Trainer Pletcher has four starters, his go-to rider was picked for this one.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Pletcher has only one Derby winner from 39 runners, and that one (Super Saver in 2010) came on an Off Track and never even hit the board in his next 3 races before being retired to stud.
Early Betting Odds : 13-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 12-1

4th - #14 – Medal Count
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Dale Romans / Robby Albarado (13 0-1-2)
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Why he COULD win the Derby: In top form now as he exits an excellent runner-up finish in Blue Grass Stakes. Though Dad (Dynaformer) earned his living on the turf, his female family is filled with dirt runners. Speed figures have steadily improved in each of his 4 races in 2014. Normally reserved trainer hasn’t been shy about expressing confidence in this one.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Derby will be his 3rd race in 29 days, a tall task for a young colt having to run the longest race of his career. Jock can’t seem to bring his “A” game to the Derby (0 for 13).
Early Betting Odds : 17-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

5th - #12 – Dance With Fate
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Peter Eurton / Corey Nakatani (16 0-1-0)
Running Style: Deep Closer
Why he COULD win the Derby: Exits an impressive victory just 3 weeks ago in the Blue Grass Stakes on the synthetic (i.e. fake dirt) surface at Keeneland, passing 10 rivals from the 3/8 pole to the 1/8 pole. Critics will say he’s at his best on the synthetic stuff. Not necessarily because in his only two natural dirt races, he ran 2nd by a ½ length in a G1 race followed by an excuse filled 8th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the only race of his career in which he ran without Lasix. Add the fact that since arriving at Churchill Downs, he’s looked fantastic in the A.M.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: His rider owns the Derby record for most mounts without a victory (16). It’s been 23 years since the Blue Grass stakes winner won the Derby.
Early Betting Odds : 14-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

6th -#20 – Wicked Strong
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): James Jerkens / Rajiv Maragh (3 0-0-1)
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Why he COULD win the Derby: Built to “get” the Derby distance as his sire (Hard Spun) was Derby runner-up in 2007 and his dams’ sire (aka Mom’s father, Charismatic) won the Derby in 1999. In each of his 3 starts this year, has improved on his speed figure. Winning the Wood Memorial was no fluke, as his two worse races were run over a very early speed friendly Gulfstream Park oval.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: May have run his best race last time out as it was his 3rd race of a layoff, a popular betting angle for grizzled handicappers. Could “bounce” off of that huge effort and will need to overcome the far outside post.
Early Betting Odds : 8-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 6-1

7th -#6 – Samraat
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Richard Violette / Jose Ortiz (1st Derby)
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: 5 wins in 6 lifetime outings. Wicked Strong handed him his only loss, yet was a game second. A model of consistency, earning the same exact Brisnet Speed figure (99) in his last 4 races.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Ditto what was said about Uncle Sigh… Only one NY-bred (Funny Cide; 2003) has won the Derby. Jock has no Derby experience. Nothing in his young riding career can compare to the daunting task of negotiating a clean trip for 10 furlongs on the 1st Saturday in May.
Early Betting Odds : 18-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 15-1

8th - #5 – California Chrome
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Art Sherman / Victor Espinoza (5 1-0-1)
Running Style: Tactical Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: A deserving favorite who has had the most dominant 3-year-old performances of any Derby starter, winning all four races this year by a combined 24¼ lengths. In his most recent effort (Santa Anita Derby), he was “geared down” in the last 1/16th of a mile yet still won by 5¼ lengths. Plus, he’s the most experienced in the field with 10 career outings while having earned the most purse money, $924,000. An appropriate phrase to describe him would be he’s “scary good”.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Never raced outside the state of California, so he could be another Lava Man, a multiple G1 winner who could never duplicate his west coast form when shipped to a track outside the Golden State. It’s been more than a quarter century since a Derby runner who won his final Derby prep race in convincing fashion (by 5+ lengths) followed that up with a win in the Kentucky Derby. Click here for that story.
Early Betting Odds : 3-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 5-2

9th - #15 – Tapiture
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Steve Asmussen / Ricardo Santana (1st Derby)
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Why he COULD win the Derby: One of three colts in the Derby field who has won a race over the CD dirt oval. Gets regular rider back in the irons after connections opted for the “hot hand” (Joel Rosario) for AR Derby, which was a mistake as he finished a non-threatening 4th. On the bright side he was already “in” the KY Derby before the AR Derby, so it’s doubtful that “the screws were fully tightened” for that effort.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby
: His sire Tapit seems to be able to get his offspring to the Derby, but none have been able to capture the Run for the Roses to date. AR Derby was 3rd after a layoff. He still should have moved forward versus hanging in deep stretch.
Early Betting Odds : 27-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 15-1

10th - #18 – Candy Boy
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): John Sadler / Gary Stevens (19 3-2-1)
Running Style: Closer
Why he COULD win the Derby: Has the pedigree to get the Derby distance as his sire (Candy Boy) won at 1¼ miles in the Pacific Classic. Will be piloted by a jockey who relishes another chance to win a Derby after coming out of a 7-year retirement last spring.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Disappointing run in the Santa Anita Derby after a 2 month layoff. His only/final workout at CD was well received by the “experts”, but I didn’t see it has Stevens needed to “encourage” him to keep up the pace through the lane. Didn’t get the post (in first gate) that his trainer wanted.
Early Betting Odds : 16-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

11th - #17 – Commanding Curve
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Dallas Stewart / Shaun Bridgmohan (5 0-0-0)
Running Style: Closer
Why he COULD win the Derby: Most recent race (LA Derby) was better than how it looks on paper. He got wiped out at the start, yet still mounted a furious rally to get SHOW money. CD is his home track as he’s never been off-the-board (1st, 2nd & 3rd) in 3 races here.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Still eligible for N2L (non-winners of 2 lifetime); he hasn’t been training all that great. Trainer is using same plan that got longshot Golden Soul second in last years’ Derby. Many are buying into that with this guy. My advice, “If you missed the wedding, don’t attend the funeral.”
Early Betting Odds : 26-1 compared to Morning Line. Odds: 50-1

12th - #18 – Ride On Curlin
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): William Gowan / Calvin Borel (11 3-0-1)
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Why he COULD win the Derby: When Calvin Borel is in the irons and the race is the Derby, your horse always has a chance. Runner-up in Arkansas Derby without Borel was 3-6 wide from the ¼ pole while the winner (Danza) was on the rail throughout. Had a strong 7 furlong final workout on Sunday and comes into race with improving speed figures over his last 3 efforts.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: It’s a weighty issue as he’ll carry 8 lbs. more on Saturday than he did in the AR Derby. Outside isn’t conducive to his running style. If Borel wants the rail, he’ll be near the back of the pack as they head into the first turn. Winless in 3 previous races on the CD dirt oval (2nd, 3rd & 4th).
Early Betting Odds : 12-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 15-1

13th - #9 – Vinceremos
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Todd Pletcher / Joe Rocco, Jr. (1st Derby)
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Why he COULD win the Derby: If you toss his last race, the Blue Grass Stakes, his first time on synthetic, then how can you overlook this horse? Never worse than second in 4 previous races and is bred to handle the classic distance.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Based on the Brisnet speed figures, he is by far the slowest in the field. On Sunday, in his only workout at CD (4f; 49.00) he visually struggled and was constantly asked for more from the exercise rider.
Early Betting Odds : 38-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 30-1

14th - #8 – General A Rod
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Michael Maker / Joel Rosario (4 1-0-0)
Running Style: Early Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: Got a perfect post position as he’s to the outside of the rest of the early speed. Should be free from any trouble approaching the first turn if he gets a smart ride from a capable rider who guided Orb won 2013 Derby.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Needs to change tactics from recent races and slide in behind the early pace setters, which might be asking too much from his natural tendencies. Had no excuse in FL Derby as he hung in the stretch refusing to pass the top 2 finishers.
Early Betting Odds : 27-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 15-1

15th - #13 – Chitu
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Bob Baffert / Martin Garcia (2 0-0-0)
Running Style: Early Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: When Baffert brings a colt to the Derby, he can win it. Is only a ½ length short of being undefeated (3 for 4) while improving speed figure-wise in each of his last 3 (dirt) races. Another step forward could land him a blanket of roses.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: Lightly raced and his last one was 6 weeks ago. Not sure if he can pull it off as Barbaro did with same layoff. Question the level of competition he beat, as only Derby runner he has faced (Candy Boy) is the only one who he hasn’t beaten.
Early Betting Odds : 25-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

16th - #1 – Vicar’s In Trouble
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Michael Maker / Rosie Napravnik (2 0-0-0)
Running Style: Early Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby:If he breaks alerting and only faces minimal pressure from the couple other legitimate front runners for the early lead, Rosie could make history being the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. He’s the only runner to have earned two (2) Brisnet triple-digit speed figures (“CC” has earned three; 7 others have one to their credit).
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: The #1 Post in the Derby is typically death, especially to a horse who needs to be out on the lead. If Rosie can get the lead, it will be at a cost of asking too much, too soon in the early stages of the race. Though an easy 3½ length gate-to-wire winner in the LA Derby, he was nursed through very slow early fractions, never was threatened throughout the contest, only clocked a 13 3/5 final furlong while under steady urging. That same effort in here will only be good enough for 6th at best. Not cut from the mold who produces classic distance winners.
Early Betting Odds : 22-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 20-1

17th -#10 – Wildcat Red
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Jose Garoffalo / Luis Saez (1 0-0-0)
Running Style: Early Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: He’s a “Gamer” in the sense that his pedigree says he belongs sprinting, yet with each race, as they have gotten longer, he seems to reach down and get more energy. With a good break from the gate, and some bad racing luck for the few of the other early speed types, he could steal the blanket of roses, much like War Emblem did in 2002. Never worse than second, his only on track loses were by a neck and a head. In another winning effort he was disqualified and placed second.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: All 7 of his races have come at Gulfstream Park (GP), the most early speed friendly racing surface in North America. Maybe some of his victories were assisted by the speed bias? For a fast horse who tossed his share of bullet (i.e. fastest) workouts at GP, his 5 furlong 1:04.40 at CD on Sunday raises a red flag.
Early Betting Odds : 14-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 15-1

18th - #7 – We Miss Artie
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Todd Pletcher / Javier Castellano (7 0-0-0)
Running Style: Mid-Pack
Why he COULD win the Derby: The fact that he’ll break from the gate gives him a chance to win… be it ever so slim. He’s here due to his victory in the Spiral Stakes which was run on Turfway Park’s synthetic surface. In his only natural dirt races, he had documented excuses in two (see comments in past performances) and the 3rd was at speed favoring Gulfstream Park. His dam sire (Fusaichi Pegasus) won the 2000 Derby. I’ve seen worse at 50-1.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: His top speed figures just don’t cut it at this level. Has not looked comfortable training on the CD dirt surface this week. After his final workout (4f in 49.20) even his trainer voiced disappointment. Not what you want to hear when trainers always put a positive spin on obvious concerns.
Early Betting Odds : 22-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 50-1

20th - #2 – Harry’s Holiday
Trainer / Jockey (Derby Mounts W-P-S): Michael Maker / Corey Lanerie (1st Derby)
Running Style: Early Speed
Why he COULD win the Derby: One of three colts in the Derby field who has won a race on the CD dirt oval. If you can overlook his 28th length defeat in the Blue Grass stakes, he’s got a shot.
Why he SHOULD NOT be able to win the Derby: His natural dirt form is a few notches below the level of this group assembled on the 1st Saturday in May.
Early Betting Odds : 35-1 compared to Morning Line Odds: 50-1

Based on my analysis of the Derby, I’ll put just $74 into the race and play…

$10 WIN, PLACE, SHOW on #4 (Danza) cost: $30

$2 EXACTA BOX on #3 (Uncle Sigh), #4 (Danza), #14 (Medal Count), #16 (Intense Holiday) cost: $24

$1 TRIFECTA PART-WHEEL #3, #4, #12, #14, #20 with #3, #4, #14, #20 with #16 (Intense Holiday) in the 3rd spot cost: $20

Good Luck!

 

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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby Analysis & Predicted Finish for all 19...

Exacta, trifecta, superfecta box box 1-12-18-8-10
exacta box 1-4-5-13-16-20
Box Tapiture, Candy Boy, Samraat, Vinceremos, Ride on Curlin, and Cal Chrome
I want to start by saying I love every horse regardless of where he was bred.That said I do not believe that California Chrome will win the Derby.I think it belongs to Wildcat Red.Call me a fool if you will,but Red is still my pick!
I don't agree with the choices - but that is what makes a horse race. Good Luck to all
I like the other California horse, Dance With Faith. He won the Blue Grass, beating Medal Count. Nakatani is an inderrated jockey imo, and he looks he's starting to peak.I'm going to key DWF 1st and 2nd, with CC, Danza, Wicked Striong, and Tapiture
Danza sure has looked excellent this week at Churchill Downs. IMO He's a must for all trifecta and superfecta wagers
ok here is the doctor's top three for what it's worth. danza,intense holiday, ride on curlin. since i was born in st. louis CC is going to have to show me.
I am sure glad I"LL HAVE ANOTHER did not win by 5 in his Santa Anita Derby. I would have never got the $32.60 he paid in Kentucky. California Chrome will win by whatever Victor wants to win by. WHY do people knock horses from California. Our 2nd string went all over the country winning preps. This is a horse that if he gets a clean trip will have the whole country rooting for a Triple Crown. Oh, That horse also ran in California. AFFIRMED !
Waah jonathanpoker >> Cheer up, this may be the only place Sam finishes in front of California Chrome.
Hey, i found another article praising that dud CC and bashing Samraat. Jockey experience pretty much has nothing to do with it. this is still a horse race and these are also the best jockeys in America. If the trainers felt that the jockey would have a problem them would've got a different jockey
In a 19 horse field picking Harry's Holiday to finish 20th kind of checks. The Outrider should be sauntering across the finish ahead of him.
Big Brown won the Florida Derby by five lengths, just as dominantly in 2008, six years ago. That is a quarter of a century? Danza is in my top five but lacks experience and foundation. He isn't tested like IHA, who while lightly race was tested quite a bit in his final prep, one that was still very impressive, though not "dominant." Sigh is a good horse, but drawing the inside, when you have blinkers first time is not what i would call a good mix of ingredients for success. Holiday has been far from consistent, and his big work was made to look much better by a horse who has little to no shot and does not seem to enjoy the dirt surface at any track.

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