Kentucky Derby Field 2012: Liaison and Long Shots You Should Bet On

Thomas ConroyCorrespondent IMay 3, 2012

Kentucky Derby Field 2012: Liaison and Long Shots You Should Bet On

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    We are a few days away from this year’s Kentucky Derby. All of the prep races have been run, and the precious post positions have been selected. It’s time to start weeding out the pretenders from the contenders for the Triple Crown.

    There are five horses that are legitimate longshots and could spoil everyone’s Saturday afternoon. Here’s the skinny on them.

Liaison

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    Current Odds: 50-1

    Trainer: Bob Baffert

    Jockey: Martin Garcia

    Post Position: 20

    It hasn’t been a memorable 2012 thus far for Liaison. In his first race of the season, he clipped heels with another horse heading into the backstretch, and he's still looking for his first appearance in the Winner’s Circle this year.

    Trainer Bob Baffert is hoping a change in scenery will help his thoroughbred break out of his slump, as Liaison’s workouts (five furlongs at 1:00) at Churchill Downs have been very encouraging. Handicappers feel the horse is better suited to run on this surface rather than his home track of Santa Anita.

    Too many outside factors are working against this colt for him to be consider anything other than be a Kentucky Derby longshot, but Liaison is built for speed and has a nose for the finish line. Ideally, Baffert needs a fast start from him to have any shot of winning the first leg of the Triple Crown.   

Daddy Long Legs

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    Current Odds: 30-1

    Trainer: Aidnan O’ Brien

    Jockey: Colm O’Donoghue

    Post Position: 1

    Daddy Long Legs is returning to Churchill Downs after a disappointing appearance last November in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile race. He has shown no ill effects from that disastrous outcome, though, as Daddy Long Legs had monster workouts (1:10 flat) all week since coming across the Atlantic.

    His pedigree profile is as good as any horse in the field, as his father is Scat Daddy, who caught everyone’s attention during the 2007 Kentucky Derby. Unfortunately, his star fizzled with an 18th-place finish due to a tendon injury.

    Daddy Long Legs has been bred for this race, and the distance will be a non-factor in his outcome.

    The skeptics will question if the competition in Europe is really quality enough for him to be considered an actual contender for the Triple Crown. Also, handicappers are worried if Daddy Long Legs will have enough time to get acclimated to the course’s turf, as it can be difficult for any horse to handle. 

Rousing Sermon

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    Current Odds: 55-1

    Trainer: Jerry Hellendorfer

    Jockey: Jose Lezcano

    Post Position: 7

    It’s no better time than right now for Rousing Sermon, as trainer Jerry Hellendorfer felt it was the right decision to have his horse compete this weekend in the Kentucky Derby. His recent workouts (five furlongs in 1:00.13) have been off the charts.

    If you’re looking for a longshot, Rousing Sermon is one of the horses to take a closer look at before post time. He has been a consistent performer in all of the graded stake races taken place prior to the Derby.

    Ideally, Hellendorfer wants his horse to maintain a good pace heading into the first turn, and if it’s fast, then Rousing Sermon’s chances of winning the Derby increases greatly

Sabercat

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    Current Odds: 35-1

    Trainer: Steve Asmussen

    Jockey: Corey Nakatani

    Post Position: 18

    Sabercat is a fresh horse that loves to set the pace in big-stake races. He excels in running in heavy traffic, and this will work to his advantage in the Kentucky Derby.

    Sabercat’s workouts (six furlongs at 1:15. 45) have been outstanding leading up to this weekend, as he’s bred to run all day at a big price on the tote board.

    Keep this in mind: In Sabercat’s first seven races, he had seven different jockeys on top of him. Corey Nakatani is the first jockey to have consecutive rides on him, and this could have developed some chemistry between the two.

    Don’t learn the hard way and leave a Steve Asmussen-trained horse off of your Derby ticket. 

Optimizer

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    Current Odds: 50-1

    Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

    Jockey: Jon Court

    Post Position: 2

    When it was announced that Mark Valeski dropped out of the Kentucky Derby, this opened an opportunity for Optimizer to be included in the field. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas will get another chance to compete for the roses once again, and the four-time Derby winner feels his horse fits perfectly with the type of style this race will offer on Saturday.

    He may not be flashy, but Optimizer seems to get the job done.

    But his record at Churchill Downs isn’t impressive, as Optimizer has finished no better than fourth place in all of the races.