Kentucky Derby Picks & Analysis
4. Normandy Invasion
Kentucky Derby Superfecta Longshots: Palace Malice, Overanalyze, Itsmyluckyday
Horse to reluctantly include on Kentucky Derby exotic tickets: Verrazano
No matter how many times we watch the replays we keep going back to the same horse to win the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby – Goldencents.
Goldencents fits every requirement we like in a Kentucky Derby winner. He’s fit and he’s a fighter. He also has the highest last race Beyer Speed Figure. While we often look beyond the numbers in this race, the fact that he has the highest Beyer Speed Figure simply gives us some bonus points.
We weren’t convinced Goldencents was legitimate in the spring, but after engaging in a suicidal duel with Flashback in the San Felipe and tiring to finish fourth, he came back with a huge effort to win the Santa Anita Derby-G1 going 1 1/8-miles on April 6. In that race he pressed a decent pace, challenged the pacesetter turning for home, shook that one off, turned back a heavy bid from Flashback and drew out to win by 1 ¼-lengths. Good horses improve off tough races and if the Santa Anita Derby was any indication, Goldencents is good horse.
Also to the benefit of Goldencents is the fact that his trainer Doug O’Neill won this race last year with I’ll Have Another. And Goldencents has high-class speed in race where there isn’t a lot of it. He doesn’t need the lead to win, and the fact that he has natural speed will help him establish position early and avoid trouble in the bulky 19-horse field.
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We have two minor concerns about Goldencents. His jockey Kevin Krigger is a rookie in this race and while he did a great job in the Santa Anita Derby, the Kentucky Derby can be a real pressure cooker. Interestingly, Krigger is seeking to become the first black jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since 1902. We’re hoping he gives a Goldencents a nice smooth trip just off a moderate pace and has enough left to hold off the ralliers.
The second concern we have with Goldencents is his pedigree. While proven at 1 1/8-miles, his pedigree may only be good enough to get the 1 ¼-miles of the Kentucky Derby with a good trip that doesn’t involve staying too close to a fast pace. If he goes to fast early, he may not get the distance. Of course there’s always the remote possibility that he could get the lead by himself, rate and draw away in the stretch. Here’s hoping!
While Goldencents was the third choice on the morning line, we have a feeling he will be well bet on Derby Day. You simply can’t look past his form, fitness, class and will to win.
If a decent pace ensues up front and Goldencents gets caught up in early battle on the turn and into the stretch, we like Orb to be the rallier that benefits most. Orb is a good horse with a top trainer that has won three in a row including the Florida Derby-G1 going 1 1/8-miles on March 30 in his most recent start.
Orb isn’t flashy. He wins in workmanlike fashion. But his trainer “Shug” McGaughey, knows how to train a good horse and Orb is peaking perfectly for this race. Orb has stamina on both sides of his pedigree and he has been working well at Churchill Downs. He also has a jockey advantage over Goldencents with Joel Rosario in the saddle.
Additionally, McGaughey is not known as a big user of medication on his horses, yet he has already won several Breeders’ Cup races. Both the Breeders’ Cup and the Kentucky Derby have stricter medication rules, and McGaughey has already proven that won’t bother his horses.
The horse that Orb defeated in the Florida Derby, Itsmyluckyday, looks interesting at 15-1 morning line odds. He was making his first start in over two months in that race and he tired in the stretch. He has run some big Beyer Speed Figures this year and although his pedigree is a little weak on the stamina side he could make a run turning for home and thus needs to be included in your exotic wagers.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has five horses in this year’s Derby, more than 20 percent of the field, and he could try to throw a wrench into the pace with one of his five horses to set the race up for another.
Pletcher’s entrants have talent, but they just never seem to do anything out of the ordinary, like win the Kentucky Derby. That being said, he did win the Kentucky Oaks-G1 at Churchill Downs on Friday with 38-1 Princess of Sylmar. He had four horses in the race, including the favorite, and his 38-1 shot won. What does that tell you? Maybe déjà vu in the Derby?
It’s difficult to tell how good Pletcher’s undefeated Verrazano is after his fourth win in a row in the Wood Memorial-G1 going 1 1/8-miles on April 6. In that race he sat just off a longshot who set a slow pace, put that one away and held off ralliers who couldn’t close into the slow pace. He should get a good trip close to the pace, but we have to think that Goldencents will give him a much bigger fight when it counts. And his pedigree says 1 ¼-miles might be a stretch. We’ll use Verrazano, but only in the underneath slots on our exotic wagers.
Pletcher also saddles Revolutionary, who boasts a classy stamina pedigree. He will probably rally from well back, but he gets multiple Derby-winning jockey Calvin Borel, who will probably sit on the rail waiting for room until late in the race when most of the field implodes on itself due to stamina limitations. Listed at 10-1 on the morning line, he has to be used in trifectas and superfectas for both his stamina and Borel.
Overanalyze, another Pletcher trainee, looked good romping to victory in the Arkansas Derby-G1 going 1 1/8-miles on April 13 and could improve in the Derby. He makes his third start off the layoff and gets top jockey Raphael Bejarano. Listed at 15-1, he’ll probably be better odds than that at post time. Value play.
That leaves two Pletcher horses that might be able to go to the lead and mess up likely pacesetters Falling Sky and Goldencents. We’re going to guess that Pletcher sends 20-1 Palace Malice to keep the pace honest. The Bluegrass Stakes-G1 runner up gets blinkers on for the Derby and he does have some stamina in his pedigree. Longshot play for exotics.
Normandy Invasion is the wise guy horse after his strong finish into the slow pace behind Verrazano in the Wood Memorial. Lightly raced, Normandy Invasion makes his third start off the layoff and has the top trainer jockey combination of Brown-Castellano in his favor. Listed at 12-1 on the morning line, watch his odds on Derby Day and use in the exotic wagers accordingly.
Good Luck! Hoping you cash for boxcars in the 2013 Kentucky Derby!
Kentucky Derby Sloppy Track Notes: There is a good chance of rain at Churchill Downs on Saturday. If the track is sloppy, give extra consideration to Revolutionary, Palace Malice, Itsmyluckyday, Vyjack, Normandy Invasion and our main pick, Goldencents.
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