#5 California Chrome (CA) – By default he is now my pick as Hoppertunity has scratched. He survived the post position draw without getting the rail, but this is not an ideal post for him. If he breaks well he should be ok, but if he doesn’t there is speed directly to his outside and inside which could cause him to get pinched back early on. This is significant considering he hasn’t broke all that well in his last few races. There is no question if he brings his “A” game then the others in here are running for second, but there are too many question marks to bet him at a short price. If he wins we may be looking at a freak, but can he prove it to me one last time?
#12 Dance With Fate (FL) – The morning line favorite is California Chrome at 5-2, and Dance With Fate is 20-1. Yet did you know…the only time these two met Dance With Fate defeated California Chrome decisively? Any time you see something like this, it’s worth taking a swing with the horse with the higher odds. I’m like most people and am worried about this horse liking dirt, but how many times have we seen synthetic horses actually run decent races at Churchill Downs? Also, when looking at the pedigree this horse should love dirt and his latest workout over a dirt track was a “wow” effort. I’m starting to believe…
#6 Samraat (NY) – Out of all the speed horses, I believe this one has the best chance to stick around. He isn’t a need the lead type of horse so they may be able to take him back a little bit, and he’s shown that he’s as game as they come. This guy is a fighter, and I fully expect him to fight all the way to the wire even though his pedigree is a tad sketchy when it comes to the Derby distance.
#14 Medal Count (KY) – Doesn’t it always seems like Dale Romans horses always run great in this race even though on paper it looks like they shouldn’t? Romans has said this week that Medal Count may be his best chance yet to win the Kentucky Derby, and honestly that is good enough for me to give the horse some respect. Much like Dance With Fate, if the horse likes the Churchill Downs surface he’ll have a big chance to get a piece of it.
#16 Intense Holiday (KY) – I was ready to make him my primary pick before the Louisiana Derby, but that race really has me scared because his stretch run was almost painful to watch even though he finished second. The Churchill Downs stretch should be to his benefit, and he seems like a horse that would like more distance before that last race. If he bounces back he has a legit chance to win, but he may not be quite fast enough to take home the entire prize
#20 Wicked Strong (KY) – He’s definitely going to be running late, but deep closers don’t historically have much luck in the Kentucky Derby. Obviously he’s going to have a nice pace to run at, but can he manage to circle the entire field? Will the #20 post make it even harder to do so? I definitely think he’ll come with a big run, but to me he looks like a horse that may be flying just a little too late and get up for third of fourth.
#4 Danza (KY) – I put him as a “Party Crasher” because how else can you really define this horse? He was a runaway winner of the Arkansas Derby at 41-1, but you have to wonder if he might be a one hit wonder. You also have to wonder if he may bounce off of what was definitely a peak effort. The good news is he looks as though he likes to go a route of ground as the Arkansas Derby was his first two turn race, plus post position #4 benefits him quite a bit. With another clean inside trip it’s not out of the question this horse could jump up and run a strong race once again….or he could also bounce to the moon. So tough to tell with him; the true definition of a wild card.
#18 Candy Boy (KY) – His poor effort in the Santa Anita Derby really has me worried, but maybe he really needed that race after a bit of a layoff. The change to the Churchill Downs surface is going to be to his benefit, and his outside post might help Gary Stevens take this horse back and try to make one big run with him. If he can get him to relax early then you could see a nice run from this horse as the distance should be zero probably whatsoever for him. The local clockers at Churchill are saying he’s made a great impression since arriving on the scene.
#1 Vicar’s in Trouble (LA) – Considering his running style the rail isn’t just a terrible draw, but it’s certainly not good either. The breeding just doesn’t suggest a mile and one quarter is going to be something he enjoys.
#2 Harry’s Holiday (KY) – Would be a “Mine That Bird” type win if he was to pull off the massive upset on Saturday. There is nothing that suggests he can even come close, but we’ve seen huge upsets before so its not like we can say it’s impossible.
#3 Uncle Sigh (NY) – From a pedigree standpoint this one looks tremendously hampered, plus he only has a maiden win to his credit. Very nice New York bred, but doesn’t stand much of a chance against this group.
#7 We Miss Artie (ON) – More of a synthetic horse, but even if this race was ran on synthetic he may not be fast enough to get the job done. Might be a likely candidate to finish last, especially after a few of his works over the Churchill Downs surface.
#8 General a Rod (KY) – He’s had two chances to win big races at Gulfstream this year, and couldn’t get it done either time. It doesn’t make sense to think he can break through and win this one considering how much tougher this race will be.
#9 Vinceremos (KY) – Just not talented enough in my opinion to get the job done. I don’t hold that last effort in the Bluegrass against him, but I was never too high on him to begin with. In over his head.
#10 Wildcat Red (FL) – Extremely fast and tough horse, but him getting away from Gulfstream won’t be a good thing. Visually he has not looked impressive over the Churchill Downs track, and he’ll probably be another one in here that could get burnt early by a hot pace.
#13 Chitu (KY) – Just not seeing any way of him getting the distance here. He’ll play a factor in the race from a pace scenario, but that’s probably where it ends with him.
#15 Tapiture (KY) – Even when he was running big races earlier in the year I still thought he might not be equipped for the mile and one quarter distance. The truth may have started to rear it’s ugly head last time out when he fell flat in the Arkansas Derby at a mile and one eighth
#17 Commanding Curve (KY) – Maybe he’s the “wise guy” horse, but I don’t think those that bet him to win are very wise at all. He’s obviously dangerous due to the chance of a pace melt down, but other closers appeal to me a bit more.
#19 Ride On Curlin (KY) – It kind of hurt me to put him in this category, but with this post how can you not? He’s gotten better with each race this year, but this draw will be too much for him to overcome. With a better post I would consider for exotic plays.
#21 Pablo Del Monte (FL) – With the late scratch of Hoppertunity this one is now in the field! He looks to be improving slightly this year, but it’s hard to imagine him running well enough for it to matter in this spot.