Twenty horses chasing one crown in a race may be the most exciting two minutes in sports. This is the Kentucky Derby. And on May 7, bettors will try to cash in on the 137th running of the event in what’s shaping up to be a wild, unpredictable first leg of the Triple Crown.
Typically, a handful of horses separate themselves as the ones to beat in the annual Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville, but that’s not the case this year. Without question, this is one of the weakest fields in recent memory and could produce one of the slowest Derby-winning times in history.
Bottom line, only a few horses can be tossed out as nonfactors in this year’s Derby, which makes it one to watch and have action going when they hit the gate.
Without further adieu, here’s how the field stacks up for the big race:
Uncle Mo—The 2010 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner is coming off a gastrointestinal infection, which his connections have tied to his disappointing third-place finish in the Wood Memorial. His health is a concern.
Santiva—He’s just too slow to win this race despite a mediocre field. Has had more trainers (four) than years (three) he’s been alive.
Comma to the Top—Way too many starts (13) in his career, and will have trouble with the distance.
Derby Kitten—Gets into the field with the scratch of Wood Memorial winner Toby’s Corner. Should be well back early before putting together a late bid as they hit the top of the stretch. Interesting addition to the field.
Pants on Fire—Sounds like the horse’s owners are fans of American Idol contestant General Larry Platt’s song “Pants on the Ground,” and the Kings of Leon hit “Sex on Fire.”
Shackleford—Your likely leader early on as one of the only “speed” horses among the bunch. Should fade late.
Brilliant Speed—He clocked the fastest times of any Derby entrant down the stretch in his Blue Grass Stakes win. Problem is, the Blue Grass was run on Keeneland’s Polytrack surface, and he lost his only two career starts on dirt by a combined 40 lengths.
Midnight Interlude—The Bob Baffert-trained horse didn’t race as a 2-year-old. And the last time a horse won the Derby not racing at 2 was Apollo in 1882. Next.
Twice the Appeal—Two words: Calvin Borel. The veteran jockey has won three of the last four Kentucky Derbies (Street Sense in 2007; Mine That Bird in ’09; Super Saver last year). A live play.
Twinspired—An intriguing horse primed to improve off his numbers from his close second in the Blue Grass Stakes. Worthy of throwing in exotics.
Archarcharch—The feisty Arkansas Derby winner is seasoned and will be the sentimental favorite as he attempts to give 70-year-old trainer Jinks Fires and jockey Jon Court a victory in the first Derby start for both men.
Stay Thirsty—The son of Bernardini can get the distance, but he finished seventh in the Florida Derby last month.
Master of Hounds—This European invader doesn’t belong in this field. He’s bred for the turf and has never run on dirt. (Note: No horse making his debut on dirt has ever won the Derby.)
Nehro—Meet the horse the wise guys are going to be on. Love the connections, but will be making his third start in six weeks. Seems a bit too much to ask.
Mucho Macho Man—Like Archarcharch, he comes with a great story attached. Trainer Kathy Ritvo is a 42-year-old heart-transplant recipient with two daughters. Primed for a big race here coming from just off the pace.
Decisive Moment—You can catch him among the leaders at the first turn. Then you can see him at the back of the field as they turn for home.
Animal Kingdom—Don’t like the name. Don’t like the fact he’s bred for turf/synthetic courses. And I don’t like the fact he’s never raced on dirt (see Master of Hounds).
Dialed In—The Mineshaft colt is the favorite, but only three horses since 1979 (Spectacular Bid in ’79; Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000; Smarty Jones in ’04) have won the Derby as the bettors’ choice.
Watch Me Go—Watch me go back to the stables and prepare for the summer campaign after I get smoked in this race.
Soldat—Sort of the mystery horse in this field following his fifth-place finish in the Florida Derby. Could be around for a spot in exotic wagering.
Winner – Dialed In
Second – Nehro
Third – Derby Kitten
Fourth – Mucho Macho Man