Let’s talk about the golden goose of the Kentucky Derby, the superfecta!
Before we dive in, here’s a quick look at the last five race winners, the odds, and the $2 superfecta payouts:
- 2013: Orb, 5-1, $57,084
- 2014: California Chrome, 5-2, $15,384
- 2015: American Pharoah, 5-2, $1,268
- 2016: Nyquist, 2-1, $1,084
- 2017: Always Dreaming, 9-2, $151,949
In those five years, four horses over 30-1 hit the board (finishing in the top three), with at least one at 10-1 or higher hitting each year. The key is not always picking the winner, but instead, finding the longshot horses that have a chance to pick up the pieces. Here are five horses that could fill out the exotics at big numbers:
Promises Fulfilled (30-1)
Promises Fulfilled enters the Derby moving in the wrong direction. He looked great when beating Good Magic in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at 23-1, going wire-to-wire without much pace pressure. That all changed in the Grade 1 Florida Derby when Luis Saez, Strike Power‘s jockey, and Robby Albarado, Promises Fulfilled’s jockey, decided that the only thing that mattered was running the fastest opening 1/4-mile possible. Promises Fulfilled won the battle in :21.95, but they were the last two horses to finish the 1 1/8-mile race.
Don’t expect the same pace in the Derby. Most likely, Promises Fulfilled will again make the lead, this time with Flameaway applying pressure, but expect the first 1/4 to go around :23.60. That’s reasonable for Promises Fulfilled and would give him a chance to hold onto a top-four spot at 25-1 or more, especially now that Corey Lanerie replaces Albarado in the saddle.
Hofburg’s full talent has yet to be seen. He’s taken massive steps forward in his last two starts when being aggressively placed, so why not bet that he does it one more time? He’ll love the extra distance based off of his pedigree (by Tapit out of Soothing Gold, with Belmont Stakes winner Touch Gold on his bottom side and champion A.P. Indy on both). Trainer Bill Mott has show that he believes in him based on his race progression. Rarely does Mott go from a maiden special weight win into a prestigious Grade 1 event.
His style fits the bill here as well. Horses with a closing style have filled 25 of the last 40 spots in the superfecta and Hofburg will be doing his best running late in the race. Additionally, he’s shown tactical speed when needed. While breaking his maiden, Hofburg was close to the pace and exploded around the turn. Being too far back in a 20-horse field can create trip trouble, but if the pace is slower, then Hofburg can stay close and make trip trouble a non-issue.
My Boy Jack (30-1)
My Boy Jack is one of the more experienced horses in the field, with 10 starts already in the books. He’s hit the board in eight of those, including each of his last four, all of which were graded Kentucky Derby preps. My Boy Jack has a solid turn-of-foot and has the ability to make a nice sweeping move around the final turn. He’s set to pass horses struggling to make the distance and sneak up into the top four.
His last race at Keeneland was especially sharp. For seemingly the entire meet, speed horses were dominating, especially on the dirt. It was a merry-go-round more than a race track. My Boy Jack bucked the trend in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes by coming from way off the pace and passing Telekinesis in the final furlong to win. Another consistent effort could be just enough to lock in a third- or fourth-place finish at very long odds.
Lone Sailor (50-1)
If we’re going to give My Boy Jack a shot, then why not play the even longer odds with Lone Sailor? Lone Sailor broke his maiden going 7 furlongs at Saratoga last summer but hasn’t visited the winner’s circle since. With that being said, he may be peaking in this cycle at just the right time. This is going to be his third start as a 3-year-old, and he improved significantly from start one to start two. He ran a strong second in his last start, losing a photo to Noble Indy in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby and finishing ahead of My Boy Jack while coming from mid-pack, a style that could prove beneficial when trying to hit the board on the first Saturday in May.
He’s a good one to keep an eye on if it rains, too: his maiden-breaking 11-length victory was in the slop.
Vino Rosso (12-1)
This son of Curlin seems to be hitting his best strides at just the right time. Trainer Todd Pletcher opted to send out Vino Rosso in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial for his final Derby prep after spending the winter in Florida, and he looked like a new horse. Vino Rosso came from off the pace to battle Enticed down the stretch before putting him away and opening up to win by 3 lengths. He’ll love the extra 1/8 of a mile in Kentucky and is dangerous at a price with a nice trip.
He also retains Pletcher’s top jockey, John Velazquez, which is a nice bonus because Velazquez could’ve stayed aboard the Grade 1 Florida Derby winner Audible. If Vino Rosso takes a step forward from the Wood, then there’s no reason that he can’t hit the board with this field.