#6 Bodemeister (VA) – Even though I’m betting against 130 years of history, I’ve never been more confident about a Derby winner in my life. This year I didn’t over-analyze things. Bodemeister has consistently shown he’s the fastest colt in this group, and he’s passed the “eye-ball” test with every race he’s ran. I feel like a bad trip is the only thing that can beat him. His post position is not perfect, but it’s not bad either. He has enough early speed to stay out of harms way as long as he breaks well. Bottom line: If this horse runs back to his Arkansas Derby form, its lights out for the rest of this field.
#8 Creative Cause (KY) – This is another horse that has been as consistent as a horse can be. He’s never ran a bad race, and has drawn the perfect post position for this one. At one time Creative Cause was number one on my Derby contenders list, but his nose loss in the Santa Anita Derby dropped him slightly. Still, I think he’ll come back and run big in this one. He’s ran in all the big races leading up to this, and has never ducked away from a challenge. He also has beaten Bodemeister in the past, although that was Bode’s first start against stakes company. In many ways Creative Cause fits the bill as a good pick, so I believe if Bode stumbles Creative Cause is your winner.
#3 Take Charge Indy (KY) – This one is really coming into this race flying under the radar, which is very scary to me. Take Charge Indy won what many believed was the toughest prep race in the Florida Derby, and he has Churchill Downs wizard Calvin Borel riding. Still, there is not much buzz about this horse. With him drawing post three, it’s easy to know what Calvin will do. Take Charge Indy will go straight to the rail, save ground, and try to rally up the inside down the stretch. This horse has a running style that reminds me a lot of Super Saver, so I look for a similar trip. Look for him to be a major player in this one.
#4 Union Rags (KY) – I’ve always said this is the only race where a post position can beat you, and I think Union Rags falls in this category. There is no doubting this horse has talent, but he’s had troubled trips in the past against smaller fields, so how will he react breaking inside of 15 other horses? Not well I don’t think. Plus, I still have a few question about how well he’ll run going a mile and one-quarter. At times I think he might be better running a mile. He’s still a dangerous throw out, but I think his chances of actually winning are pretty slim.
#11 Alpha (KY) – This one is really interesting to me. I was never all that high on him, but I felt like his performance in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct was impressive. He didn’t get the best of trips that day, but still was able to give Gemologist all he wanted. His post is manageable in this one, so I don’t see him getting stuck on the inside again. I’m a little worried about his health, as he had a sore foot leading up to this race, but if he’s healthy he’s got a big shot in this one. Very dangerous to leave him off your exotic tickets.
#15 Gemologist (KY) – Isn’t it interesting that the only undefeated colt in this field is getting very little attention? How can you fault anything Gemologist has done to this point? His post position is not the greatest, but he’s talented enough to over come it. I feel like he’s still a little green coming into the race, but with a little growing up he could play a huge factor. Look for him to sit a few lengths off the pace and try to save as much ground as possible before making a big move on the turn.
#19 I’ll Have Another (KY) – Really like this colt, really hate this post! No horse has ever won from the 19 post so the odds are stacked against I’ll Have Another. He’s been most effective when sitting just off the pace in his last two starts, but there is no way that is going to happen on Saturday. He’ll most likely be shuffled back towards the middle from this post. I was ready to make this horse one of my likely winners, but with this post I think he’s an exotic play at best. Him and Union Rags lost the most at the post position draw in my opinion.
#10 Daddy Nose Best (KY) – Here is everyone’s wise guy horse, including mine. His win in the Sunland Derby is looking better and better every day, and he’s been training smartly leading up this race. I think the distance suits him perfectly, and you can’t argue with the post that he’s drawn. My only problem is the fact that he hasn’t beaten much over his career. This is going to be a pretty big jump in class for him, but his speed figures suggest he’ll be ready for it. If he’s 20-1 or more, there is no reason not to lay a few bucks on him.
#13 Went the Day Well (NY) – I will admit that I’ve thrown Went the Day Well into this category solely because I respect his connections so much. This is the same group that lead Animal Kingdom to a Derby victory last year. Went the Day Well also used the same prep race as Animal Kingdom did, as he won the Spiral Stakes at Turfway. Honestly I don’t think this horse is near good enough to win, but all those coincidences have me leery to totally toss him out.
#16 El Padrino (KY) – Even though there have been reports that this horse has not looked very well since the Florida Derby, I still feel like I can’t throw him out. At one point El Padrino was on the top of my list for Derby contenders. His fourth place finish in the Florida Derby has cooled me off a little, but he’s shown that he is talented enough to pull off the upset today. Post 16 will give him the ability to stalk the leaders, but he might get carried out pretty wide. He can be had at a big price, and if he can return to his Risen Star form he has a legit shot.
#1 Daddy Long Legs (KY) – Draws the rail and was beaten over 19 lengths in his only start on dirt. Do I really need to say anything else?
#2 Optimizer (KY) – This is a horse I’ve always been high on, and he’s mostly made me look stupid other than his fast closing race in the Rebel. Who knows what you are going to get with him, but even for his biggest fan (me) he’s a throw out in this one. The post position is terrible, and this horse hasn’t shown nearly enough mentally to win against this type of field. D Wayne Lukas’ 45th Kentucky Derby starter will most likely finish in the bottom half of the field.
#5 Dullahan (KY) – I don’t care what Dale Romans is saying, this horse does not run that well on dirt. If the race were on a synthetic or turf surface, Dullahan will be my pick. But, the Churchill dirt surface is usually not kind to Dullahan type runners. I’m taking a risk and saying Dullahan won’t run a step on Saturday.
#7 Rousing Sermon (CA) – I’ve said the same thing about this horse from day one: He is going to give you everything he’s got, but he’s just not fast enough to beat the top class of horses. There is no chance of him embarrassing himself, but no chance of him winning either.
#9 Trinniberg (KY) – This horse is the definition of cheap speed. He’s never ran past seven furlongs in his career, and has very little chance of getting the mile and one-quarter. Look for him to be on the lead early, but fade when the real running gets going. Will him setting a fast pace effect the other speed in this race? I actually don’t think so, most will be smart enough to lay off of him.
#12 Prospective (KY) – This horse has been smartly spotted in his races leading up to this, but really has never beaten much in his career. One of the easier throw outs for me.
#14 Hansen (KY) – In the Kentucky Derby you have to throw out some good horses sometimes, and Hansen is one of them for me. I have a lot of respect for this horse, but I don’t feel like the distance is not going to suit him. He started to fade a little in the Bluegrass at Keeneland when he had the lead to himself. What is he going to do going a mile and one-quarter when he’s being pressed the whole time? I’m guessing he’ll fade down the stretch finishing in the middle of the pack.
#17 Done Talking (KY) – I believe he’s a little out-classed against this bunch, and the post position is not going to do him any favors. He won the Illinois Derby impressively, but none of the horses from that race have come back to do much. Passing on him in this spot.
#18 Sabercat (KY) – I actually had a little hope for Sabercat to make some noise, but feel like this far outside post will hurt his chances. He’ll have to drop all the way to the back and weave his way through traffic down the stretch. With a perfect trip he could spoil some superfecta’s, but it’s doubtful he’ll get it from here.
#20 Liaison (KY) – Never thought this horse had any hope. Drawing this post just makes it worse, so this is the easiest throw out for me.