The Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky., is the first leg of the U.S. Triple Crown. The Preakness Stakes and then the Belmont Stakes, which are dirt tracks as well, follow the race in Louisville.
A horse has to win all three races in order to win the Triple Crown. Eleven horses have ever done that. The last time was in 1978.
The run over 1-1/4 miles at Churchill Downs is by far the most famous horse race in the country and the trainers and owners usually focus on winning, if not all three, then just the Kentucky Derby.
The 20 horses in the race have different styles of running and each has its own strong and weak spots.
The following is a list of five horses I think possess more than the others to finish the greatest two minutes in the world first.
This horse has it all. The trainer, the jockey and the talent.
Michael Matz, the trainer, won the Run for the Roses in 2006. The horse’s jockey, Julien Leparoux, hasn’t, but he has many other achievements including being a two-time Eclipse champion jockey and only the fourth to win the honor for top apprentice.
Union Rags has six starts in his racing career of two years. He raced in Grade 1 and 2 stakes with his career-worst result in the Florida Derby in March 31 – his last race.
It is still debated whether he lost because of a bad ride by the jockey or because Union Rags is not in best shape. He worked out just one time since the Florida Derby running five furlongs in 0:59 4/5. Not a shockingly good performance, but Union Rags’ coach is confident.
Titled “the favorite to win” by public opinion, Bodemeister has the Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith aboard to help him win.
His trainer, three-time Kentucky Derby-winning Bob Baffert, is another strong reason to pick Bodemeister as the winner.
Bodemeister has only four starts in his career winning twice. His last win was quite a statement. He finished the 9 ½-length Grade 1 Arkansas Derby in 1:41.84. He won by nine lengths.
In his workout on April 29, Bodemeister ran five furlongs in 59.60 seconds.
It would be an extraordinary moment if Bodemeister won the race. He would be the first horse in the history of the Kentucky Derby to have done so while not racing as a 2-year-old.
Bodemeister will start from post position 6. His odds were 4/1.
He will start at post position 15 on Saturday. His trainer Todd Pletcher, a Kentucky Derby winner from 2010, said the slot was perfect. “It worked out perfect. I love the 15, the first one in the auxiliary gate. There’s a little space there. He’s outside all the speed. They’re both together, so it makes it easier in the paddock.”
If the trainer says so, then it’s true.
Gemologist is coming into the 2012 Kentucky Derby at the top of his game. He never lost a race. He won all of his five starts in the two years he has been racing. One of the wins was at Churchill Downs in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.
Gemologist is also exceptionally fast. In both the Grade 1 Wood Memorial race he won and in the Kentucky Jockey Club, the horse took an early lead way before he made his winning move, which was coming off the far turn. That is a style that wins big competitions.
Gemologist’s odd were 6/1.
He is probably the most consistent horse, other than undefeated Gemologist, in the Kentucky Derby, considering how many races he had run.
In his eight starts for two years of racing, Creative Cause had won four times, finished second and third twice each.
Creative Cause’s good pedigree is also a factor. He's well bred. He is sired by Giant's Causeway, the 2000 European Horse of the Year and the leading sire in North America in 2009 and 2010.
The horse’s trainer Mike Harrington like the post Creative Cause will be starting at – 8. He said, “It’s perfect. The post gives him a chance to get out and get a good stalking position. Depending on the speed, I expect him to three or four lengths off the leaders. That’s the way he runs.”
Creative Cause’s odd were 12/1.
Dullahan is certainly not the favorite and there is a good reason for this. He won his last race, the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in Keeneland, on April 14. Other than that, his results have been unconvincing.
Dullahan usually runs six to 10 lengths in the back at the beginning of a race. The Kentucky Derby pace will be fast. Dullahan can make up for his slow start in the final furlongs.
He must be careful not to start too slow. Falling too far behind in the early stages with 19 other horses in his way is an obstacle Dullahan won’t be able to overcome.
Dullahan’s odd are 8/1.