This evening will be when the 2013 Kentucky Derby field will be officially set, as post positions for the first leg of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs will be announced.
The 139th running of this world renowned race promises to be another thriller, especially since the odds for the top contenders will be substantially shaped by where they enter the gates on Saturday, May 4.
Below is a breakdown of the best bets to win, place or show, including the odds they each have of winning the race outright.
Note: Odds are courtesy of Daily Racing Form expert Mike Watchmaker.
In addition to Watchmaker, at least two other prominent experts are warming up to the idea of Orb as the favorite, especially in light of how he's performed to start the week at Churchill Downs.
Randy Moss @randy_moss_TV
My pre-draw Derby line- Orb 7-2, Verrazano 4-1, Goldencents 6-1, Norm Invasion 8-1, Revolutionary 10-1, Itsmyluckyday 12-1, Overanalyze 15-12013-4-30 18:54:41
Randy Moss @randy_moss_TV
And that line is a *prediction* of final odds, not necessarily personal preference….although Orb right now looks like horse to beat #Derby2013-4-30 18:55:45
BloodHorse.com's Claire Novak is feeding the hype as well, citing the comfort level Orb seems to have on the track:
Claire Novak @BH_CNovak
The way Orb just skips over the ground @ChurchillDowns is phenomenal. Love love love a horse that truly takes connections to the #KyDerby2013-4-29 13:06:05
With the top moneymaking jockey in Joel Rosario in the saddle and a rapidly improving horse, trainer Shug McGaughney has to be thrilled with how everything is going. Orb has become a workout marvel, and should be considered a lock to be one of the first three horses to cross the finish line.
Having four triumphs in a row entering this Triple Crown race—including one in a Grade 1 race at the Florida Derby—is a testament to Orb's progression. The next logical step is hot pursuit of a Kentucky Derby, and the preparation at Gulfstream Park bodes well for Churchill Downs' 10 furlong track.
Undefeated in four previous races, Verrazano will have to overcome a lot to win this one. No horse that didn't race as a two-year-old has ever won with the exception of Apollo back in 1882.
When in doubt, though, it's wise to trust Todd Pletcher. It seems as though a trip to the winners circle may not be in the cards for Verrazano, but a second or third-place showing is certainly not out of the question.
The combination of size and speed that Verrazano has is enviable to all the other competitors, and if he puts together his best race, it would be nearly impossible to catch him.
Hall of Fame jockey John R. Velazquez, who mounted Animal Kingdom in a winning Run for the Roses in 2011—seemingly couldn't be happier about how Verrazano has looked thus far (h/t KY Derby Contenders Twitter page):
KY Derby Contenders @DerbyContenders
Johnny V. on Verrazano: "He's been an unbelievable horse. He's done everything right."2013-4-27 13:19:13
Verrazano may not be the prohibitive favorite anymore, but it's hard to argue with this powerful colt's track record to date. The key will be not running out of gas down the stretch, which almost cost him the win at the Wood Memorial Stakes to a strong push by Normandy Invasion.
Jockey Kevin Krigger already made history in qualifying for Churchill Downs. When he rode Goldencents to victory in the Santa Anita Derby, he was the first African American to win in the race's 78-year history, according to the New York Times' Melissa Hoppert.
Krigger is just the second African American to ride in the Kentucky Derby since 1921, and if he wins, would become the second to do that feat, joining Jimmy Winkfield, who won back-to-back in 1902.
Goldencents is partially owned by Louisville Cardinals basketball head coach Rick Pitino, which should only sway hometown sentiment into the exciting horse's favor.
The win in Santa Anita Park solidified Goldencents as a legitimate contender in the Run for the Roses. This may be a team pining to rewrite the record books, but the speed of Goldencents and the skill of Krigger is a legitimate combination that can easily take home the top prize.
If it winds up not being enough, there is certainly a place in the top three for Goldencents.
According to experts John Asher and Jill Byrne at KentuckyDerby.com—who are employed at Churchill Downs—Revolutionary is the pick to win.
That's very high praise, considering Revolutionary is considered to be the second-best horse that legendary trainer Todd Pletcher has in the field, of course behind Verrazano.
But three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel will be in the saddle, which gives Revolutionary a jockey that is extremely experienced on the track—and successful.
Veteran jockey Jose R. Martinez Jr. has been extremely impressed with Revolutionary:
Jose Martinez Jr @jockyjr
I love Revolutionary in the #KentuckyDerby. Very talented horse & covers up ground with ease. #monster2013-4-28 14:46:26
A resilient performance in the Louisiana Derby shows that Revolutionary can face adversity even down the final straightaway and still prevail. That marked three consecutive victories for the horse, and provides a big spark of momentum entering this marquee horse racing showcase.