With the Run for the Roses set for May 4, excitement is certainly mounting for the biggest event in horse racing. The post positions have yet to be drawn, but that hasn't stopped oddsmakers from setting initial betting lines for the transcendent race.
Several horses have set themselves apart from the rest of the field throughout the qualifying process and they are among the favorites to win the first leg of the Triple Crown. It's impossible to know for sure what will happen out on the Churchill Downs track ahead of time, but there is no question that some horses have looked better than others.
There are potential contenders throughout the field, though, so it's important to dive deeper when placing a bet. Post positions will also play a big role as some spots are generally more advantageous than others, but there is value in knowing which horses are favored ahead of time.
With that in mind, here are the latest Kentucky Derby odds ahead of the post-position release as well as analysis on the early favorites.
Current Kentucky Derby Odds
|Horse||Points in 2013||Odds|
|Normandy Invasion||44 points||10/1|
|Javas War||122 points||16/1|
|Will Take Charge||60 points||20/1|
|Lines of Battle||100 points||20/1|
|Palace Malice||50 points||25/1|
|Black Onyx||50 points||40/1|
|Frac Daddy||44 points||45/1|
|Charming Kitten||20 points||50/1|
|Golden Soul||14 points||50/1|
|Falling Sky||30 points||75/1|
*Odds courtesy of AllHorseRacing.ag and Kentucky Derby points courtesy of KentuckyDerby.com.
Top Contenders to Watch
It's easy to see why Verrazano is the odds-on favorite to win the Kentucky Derby as he has been absolutely dominant. He is undefeated in four races including victories at the prestigious Tampa Bay Derby and Wood Memorial.
Verrazano has been saddled by John Velazquez in all four of his races, so there is some definite familiarity and comfort there. That should help Verrazano remain calm and composed on the big stage.
A Todd Pletcher-trained horse, Verrazano has clearly been prepared adequately for the Kentucky Derby. In all honesty, Verrazano seems like the perfect horse and a very safe bet to win the Derby, but there are no sure things in horse racing. Even so, Verrazano is more than deserving of his 4/1 betting odds.
Perhaps the only concern when it comes to Verrazano is his lack of experience at 10 furlongs. The furthest Verrazano has gone in a race is nine furlongs, so there is a definite possibility that he could tire in the latter stages. Many of the horses in the race will be running further than they ever have before, though, so it should be an even playing field with Verrazano as the horse to beat.
Like Verrazano, Orb enters the Kentucky Derby on an impressive hot streak. He has four consecutive victories, including triumphs at the Fountain of Youth Stakes as well as the Florida Derby. Orb also has significantly more racing experience than Verrazano, so it can be argued that he is better equipped to handle the rigors of the Kentucky Derby. Whatever the case, Orb has definitely hit his stride as of late.
One interesting subplot is that Velazquez has ridden Orb to victory in each of his past two races. Velazquez will ride Verrazano in the Kentucky Derby, though, so Orb will be mounted by Joel Rosario instead. Orb was actually ridden by Rosario in each of his first five races, so it shouldn't be a huge issue. Orb and Velazquez clearly had some synergy together, however. That means a change could potentially throw Orb off to some degree.
Aside from that, Orb is definitely peaking at the right time. He didn't finish better than third in his first three races in late 2012, but he seems like a totally different horse now. He may not be the favorite at 6/1, but if he draws a better post position than Verrazano, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Orb shoot to the top spot in betting terms prior to the race.
Perhaps no horse in the entire Kentucky Derby field has as many storylines surrounding it as Goldencents. For one, Goldencents is trained by Doug O'Neill. He is the same trainer who led I'll Have Another to Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes victories last year before scratching him prior to the Belmont Stakes due to an injury. That decision was controversial as is O'Neill's training history.
O'Neill has been cited for administering illegal performance-enhancing substances to his horses multiple times in the past, so there are sure to be plenty of watchful eyes on him and Goldencents. On a lighter note, however, Goldencents will be saddled by Kevin Krigger, who became the first African American jockey to win the Santa Anita Derby when he led Goldencents to the winner's circle in early April.
Krigger has a chance to become the first African American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since Jimmy Winkfield won aboard Alan-a-Dale in 1902. In addition to that, Goldencents has won three of his past four races and has been dominant in recent runs, so he is definitely a horse worth watching outside the likes of Verrazano and Orb.
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