2015 Kentucky Derby Picks and Analysis
Race 11, Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 2, 2015
3-Year-Olds, 1 1/4-miles, Dirt, Purse: $2 Million
Kentucky Derby Picks
2. Firing Line
4. American Pharoah
Kentucky Derby Superfecta Longshots
Danzig Moon, El Kabeir, Carpe Diem, Far Right, Frammento, Keen Ice, Itsaknockout, War Story. Bet these picks using your credit card at an online horse racing betting site where it WILL work for depositing and where you'll receive a generous 50% bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500! Free Cash! --> Bovada Racebook
Kentucky Derby Analysis
The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby-G1 could be one of the best betting races ever.
We've got at least two potential superstars in the making in 1-2 favorites American Pharoah and Dortmund; eight horses who have recorded triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures; and at least eight plodders who could sneak into the Kentucky Derby Superfecta and make it pay boxcars. And this year's renewal of the Derby looks like it might depend more on good trips than anything else.
Normally we'd try to determine how the Derby was going to set up and then use the horses that could best take advantage of the race shape and pace scenario, but in this year's Derby there are numerous horses that like to set or force the pace and just a few deep closers. Even more confusing is the fact that none of the entrants absolutely needs the lead to win. The smartest ride could win it all.
The favorites in this year's Derby are stablemate's American Pharoah and Dortmund. Both are deserving choices for three-time Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert, and both have proven they can either take the lead or sit just off the pace. The undefeated 6-for-6 Dortmund will be our top choice not just because he's undefeated, but because a proven fighter. In both the Los Alamitos Futurity-G1 and the R B Lewis-G3 he won gutsy stretch battles. And if he's left alone on the lead as he was in the Santa Anita Derby-G1, they would likely never catch him. He also has enough pedigree to win the Derby and his jockey Victor Espinoza has won the Derby twice before, in 2002 board War Emblem and last year with California Chrome.
American Pharoah is the likely betting favorite based on pure talent, and he would also be very dangerous if left alone on the lead, but he's already being called the next coming of Seattle Slew without having ever been in a fight to win. He might be a superhorse, but he'll have to prove it first, and these are better horses than he's been facing. Remember, Seattle Slew won the 1977 Kentucky Derby and the Triple Crown to remain undefeated, but he absolutely hated to lose. We don't know if American Pharoah will dig in to win and without that knowledge we can't play him to win at a short price. Too many romping "can't lose" favorites have met defeat in the Derby and his short price is definitely not enticing. He does look like he has enough stamina in his pedigree to win the Derby, but his rider Martin Garcia has never won it.
Next in line we like Firing Line at 12-1 on the morning line. While trainer Simon Callaghan is a rookie in the Derby, jockey Gary Stevens has won the Run For The Roses three times with Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995) and Silver Charm (1997). Firing Line has twice taken our pick Dortmund to head decisions and he comes into this race off a sharp score in the Sunland Park Derby-G3. He's been training well at Churchill Downs and can come from just off the pace, which we're hoping Gary Stevens will do after the crazies are done battling up front.
There are numerous horses in here that can take the lead from the gate if they want to, and by the time the pack gets to the turn for home we're hoping that Dortmund and Firing Line will have received perfect trips behind the speed as the field starts to wilt. American Pharoah might be the horse to survive the battle of the speed horses on the turn for home based on pure talent, but he'll then have to hold off Dortmund and Firing Line in the stretch. That will require both stamina and the will to win. We still don't know if he has either, not to mention his lack of seasoning.
When Dortmund and Firing Line are going at it in the stretch, there's a slim chance a longshot closer could sneak by at boxcar odds late. Just imagine what the Kentucky Derby Superfecta would pay if favorite American Pharoah ran out of the top four and a longshot won with Dortmund and Firing Line second and third. Boxcars!
Here's what we see happening in the race.
The three inside horses Ocho Ocho Ocho, Carpe Diem and Materiality, all have early decisions to make as speed-type horses. If they drop back early they might never get untracked, so they're almost forced to send early for position. One of them is likely to get a decent trip inside just back of the speed, but which one is impossible to predict. The aforementioned trio could also be joined by Mr. Z up front.
American Pharoah is likely to rate just off the speed from his wide post and move into the teeth of a pace battle into the final turn, although we can't rule out the possibility of him trying to open up early from his wide post 18 and trying to wire the field. That would appear to be a tough way to win this race based on all the triple-digit Beyer horses with speed in the field. Tencendur, Mubtaahij, Bolo, Frosted and Upstart look most likely to be in the second flight behind the speed along with Dortmund and Firing Line, and just who goes after the speed first will depend on the riders. Moving too early into a pace battle on the turn will result in an empty gas tank in the stretch.
We're hoping both Dortmund and Firing Line are patient enough to make their moves in late turn or into the stretch. Just behind them (if they haven't moved early) will be the aforementioned Tencendur, Mubtaahij, Bolo, Frosted and Upstart, any of which could take a run at Firing Line and Dortmund before tiring and finishing in the money, while out of the clouds longshots rally to pick up at least one and possibly two of the lower slots in the Derby Superfecta.
Our main wager will be Dortmund to win and an exactor box of Dortmund and Firing Line. We will also take those two to the board in the Kentucky Derby Trifecta and use both of them in positions 1-2, 1-3, 1-4 and 2-3 in the Kentucky Derby Superfecta. The logical horses to fill out the remaining slots in the Kentucky Derby Superfecta are Materiality on numbers, Mubtaahij on fitness and trainer, Bolo based on the way he has been training, in-and-outer Frosted, and Upstart, who was a decent second to Materiality in his last.
The longshots that could plod into the Kentucky Derby Superfecta and exotics if the pace collapses are Itsaknockout, Danzig Moon, War Story, Carpe Diem, Far Right, Frammento, El Kabeir,with three -time Derby winning rider Calvin Borel up the rail, and Keen Ice with double-Derby winning jockey Kent Desormeaux. We can't see any of these longshots actually winning the race, but if there is a pace melt down… Well, stranger things have happened.
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