It’s that time of year when we’re all analyzing the Kentucky Derby from every angle imaginable. While everyone else is trying to pick a winner, I’ll start with a different angle. I’m going to throw out five horses that have no chance to win on the first Saturday in May, which seems to be an easy task in a Kentucky Derby that looks extremely top-heavy. When I did this three years ago, I listed Shagaf (finished 20th), Trojan Nation (16th), Tom’s Ready (12th), My Man Sam (11th), and Majesto (18th). Two years ago was successful as well, but it did get scary down the stretch, as the list included Lookin At Lee (second), Battle of Midway (third), Gormley (ninth), Untrapped (12th), and Patch (14th). Last year, it was another successful season as the article listed Combatant (18th), Promises Fulfilled (15th), Firenze Fire (11th), Lone Sailor (eighth), and Bravazo (sixth). Here are the five horses that I believe have no shot to win the Kentucky Derby this year:
1. Master Fencer
This is probably the easiest toss out we’ve had in quite some time. Foreign horses have had terrible luck in the last few years in this race, while this horse qualified without even winning his last prep race in Japan. The horse got into the race via the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby, which is something that needs to be reviewed for next season. He actually finished fourth in the points standings for that; however, the top three finishers had no interesting in going, so he took the spot. He just looks to be completely overmatched.
2. Plus Que Parfait
He got back to his old form in Dubai after taking home the UAE Derby (G2) in a hard-fought battle against Gray Magician. However, both of those horses were struggling horribly before going over for that race. The UAE Derby winners have been embarrassingly bad in the last two Kentucky Derby’s, which certainly is cause for concern with this horse. His American experience is a big plus, though, yet he just looks to be a little slow for a race of this caliber.
His failure to finish the job in the Louisiana Derby (G2) is hard to take since it looked like he was a sure winner when turning for home. Instead, he let By My Standards pass him late in the race for the win. This horse is also very lightly raced, which means he could be lacking the experience that is needed for most horses to win a race of this caliber. This year, trainer Todd Pletcher is lucky to have an entry, as this is a crop that has struggled by his standards. I wouldn’t expect much from this horse or Pletcher during this year’s Triple Crown season.
This is the ultimate grinder in the race, who just lacks the overall ability to win an event of this magnitude. It would be an amazing story if he got the job done, with the former claimer out running his expectation level no matter what happens next. When he finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) it was a positive sign; however, he got a dream trip in that race. The race shape and pace of this one is going to be totally different, which should give him a lot of trouble.
The distance of the Kentucky Derby should be a real problem for this horse, who looks to simply be better when running in sprints. He packed a powerful punch in the Gotham Stakes (G3), closing beautifully to pick up the win. In the Wood Memorial Stakes (G2), he still was able to close, just not as well as the distance probably got the best of him. There is no doubt he’ll have a little burst of energy on the first Saturday in May, it is just hard to think he can sustain that type of run as long as needed to win a race of this caliber as a closer.