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Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Calvin Borel
Breakdown: Winner of the Louisiana Derby has shown two things from day one: determination and heart. He’s the most seasoned horse out of the bunch, and has overcome bad trips to win in both of his Kentucky Derby preps. The one to beat.
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Jockey: Kevin Krigger
Breakdown: He ran the most impressive race of all the preps, winning the Santa Anita Derby and earning a beyer speed figure of 105. The way he’s learned to sit just off the pace will help him in the Derby tremendously. Very dangerous if the mile and one-quarter is to his liking.
Trainer: Shug McGaughey
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Breakdown: Distance shouldn’t be any problem at all, and top jock Joel Rosario grabbing the mount is a definite positive. The key will be if he has enough tactical speed to sit a decent trip. Decent turn of foot, but won’t be able to come from way out of it and win.
Jockey: John Velazquez
Breakdown: Undefeated and most likely the favorite. His form going a mile and sixteenth or less is flawless, but he did slow down a little when running a mile and one eighth. Breeding for distance is in question, plus he had zero races as a two-year old so 100+ years of history is against him.
Trainer: Ed Plesa
Jockey: Elvis Trujillo
Breakdown: It’s interesting with one average race how far this guy has fallen off the radar. Supporters have to love the price they could get on him, as well as the bounce back potential this he has. You’d probably be wise to pay attention to his works at CD leading up to the race, he could be live on the first Saturday in May.
Trainer: D Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Gary Stevens
Breakdown: I’m not ready to give up on him yet! The Arkansas Derby was a disaster, and he’s still yet to get the post position and trip you’d like to see him get. His latest work over the Churchill surface was pretty good. This time look for him to go to the front and try to take them all the way to the wire.
Jockey: Jon Court
Breakdown: He’s the mystery horse of the Derby. Last time out he looked like a prime contender when winning the Rebel Stakes, but that was seven weeks ago. The colt is growing at a rapid rate, but can Lukas get him ready for a big performance off a long layoff?
Trainer: Kenny McPeek
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Breakdown: I’ve liked this horse from the start, and he hasn’t disappointed in his two preps for the Derby. His closing kick is solid, the question will be what kind of trip he’ll get. With twenty horses in the Derby, those late flying closers usually get caught pretty wide on the final turn.
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Breakdown: Everyone is buzzing about this one, but I’m not buying the hype. He looked pretty thin when arriving to Churchill, and lets not forget the horse is eligible for a non-winners of two allowance. Would be playable at the right price, but think he’ll be way over bet.
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Breakdown: The big win in the Arkansas Derby was encouraging, but the race came back pretty slow. You have to like that his best races have been over a mile and one eighth distance, but will this horse be fast enough to get the job done? Maybe one to look at for exotics…
Trainer: Tom Amoss
Jockey: Rosie Napravnik
Breakdown: Here is another that’s flying under the radar, although Rosie signing on to ride will hurt your price on Derby day. He showed tremendous kick in the Louisiana Derby last time out, but can this horse get mile and one-quarter distance?
Jockey: Mike Smith
Breakdown: It’s great that Curlin’s first crop has produced a Derby horse, but I still question just how good Palace Malice can be. The distance should be right up his alley which is good, but is he fast enough? He reminds me a little of Overanalyze, exotics are possible but don’t think he can win.
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Breakdown: He’s classy enough to compete with these horses, but how will he take to the dirt? His breeding suggests he’ll do just fine, but winners of the UAE Derby have not done well in Kentucky. Should be looked at as a wildcard.
Trainer: Rudy Rodriguez
Jockey: Garrett Gomez
Breakdown: It certainly wasn’t a horrible third place effort in the Wood Memorial for Vyjack, but he was clearly beaten by the top two. The longer distance probably won’t help him much in this one.
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Breakdown: Who knows if he’ll even run in the Derby, but if he does I actually think he has a shot to hit the board. He’s bred to get the distance, and he had run some decent races before flopping in the Louisiana Derby. His best effort would be good enough to compete here.
Trainer: Kelly Breen
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Breakdown: Here is another one that is flying completely under the radar. He’s going to have to improve off his win in the Spiral Stakes, but Kelly Breen is not one you should underestimate. Maybe a longshot chance?
Jockey: Martin Garcia
Breakdown: His Sunland Derby win doesn’t look like much, and there has been reports about foot bruising. I’d stay away from him as of now. His workouts at Churchill will be very important to monitor.
Breakdown: Hey why not? The horse is on a roll, and that’s never a bad sign heading into the Derby. Tough to know how he’ll like the Churchill Downs dirt, but I’ve seen crazy things happen.
Jockey: Victor Lebron
Breakdown: Was able to clunk up for second in the Arkansas Derby, but was dominated in two preps before that. Not liking his chances in this spot.
Breakdown: This horse is a total question mark on the dirt, so that’s why I’ve landed him at number twenty. Deserves a chance to prove himself, but will be a pass for me.
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