Once again, it looks like rain could impact the Kentucky Derby. Rain threatened last year and ended up holding out, but the recent history of the Kentucky Derby is heavily influenced by rainy days. There’s a 50 percent chance of rain on Saturday, which is only fitting because rain has impacted approximately 45 percent of the 138 previous Kentucky Derbies. Sloppy conditions will change the way the race is run. For those unfamiliar with horse racing, horses on the front are more successful on a wet track. Churchill Downs usually favors closing horses so a wet track on Saturday is a game-changer.
As with most recent Derbies, Saturday’s race presents a wide-open proposition. That’s why betting the Derby is generally a complete crapshoot. You take your shots, usually against the favorite, and then you hope for the best. It’ll be a chaotic couple minutes, but hopefully you can enjoy it as much as I do.
Due to a change in the way horses were allowed to qualified for the Kentucky Derby, there aren’t any undeserving horses inserted to disrupt the this year’s festivities. Four horses are expected to get to the front early: Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday, Falling Sky, and Verrazano. The pace isn’t expected to be that fast, so at least three of those horses should be in the conversation as they hit the final turn. Revolutionary will likely be well-placed to attack from the inside, while favored Orb will look to rush to the front when it’s time to shine. Normandy Invasion, Overanalyze, Will Take Charge, and Vyjack are also good enough to test as well.
Rather than dive through the field horse by horse, here are a few horses I’m focusing on for Saturday:
3 – Revolutionary – 10-1
Revolutionary’s jockey, Calvin Borel, loves the rail. Everyone knows that. Will they stop him from getting it? Probably not, because there’s so much else for each jockey to focus on in this race. Revolutionary should find a nice path to a top 4 finish as Borel already has his horse close to the inside.
5 – Normandy Invasion – 12-1
Like the Brits in World War II, this horse came charging down the stretch in the Wood Memorial only to come up short to Verrazano. There will be a little bit more track for Normandy Invasion to make it up in this race if he gets himself in a good spot to pounce.
8 – Goldencents – 5-1
He’ll be near the front, but can he maintain enough stamina to remain at the front when it counts? That’s the biggest question facing those who want to back the Santa Anita Derby winner. Given his odds making him third choice, I’m not sure if the value exists given the questions.
9 – Overanalyze – 15-1
He’s only run two races so far this year, so it’s possible he’s rounding into form at the right time. He ran a really fast workout this week, which means he’ll have the burst to compete.
12 – Itsmyluckyday – 15-1
He was the favorite in the Florida Derby, but got pushed three wide and didn’t have the gas to finish ahead of Orb. The rematch is Saturday and his penchant of being near the front should put him in good position given the expected slower pace.
14 – Verrazano – 4-1
The only undefeated horse in the race has a chance to become the favorite once the race actually starts. He’s arguably got the best jockey/trainer combination in the race. There are some worries about him being able to go the full distance of the race, but there’s only way to find out.
16 – Orb – 7-2
John Velazquez decided to ride Verrazano instead of Orb after being the jockey for both horses in their last two races. That should tell you something. A slow pace could mean that Orb may not be chasing tired horses at the end of the race, but then again that didn’t happen in the Florida Derby either.
20 – Vyjack – 15-1
Vyjack tried to go head to head with Verrazano in the Wood Memorial, but faded in the final moments. He likely won’t get the chance to compete again because his post position presents a serious disadvantage. He’s good, but not good enough to overcome that much.
1st – Verrazano
2nd – Itsmyluckyday
3rd – Revolutionary
4th – Orb