Saturday's field for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby is stacked with talent, and now that the 20-horse field has officially been determined, it is worth examining all of the competitors a little more closely.
Todd Pletcher has five horses in the 2013 version of this race, as he attempts to win his second Kentucky Derby—adding to the 2010 success of Super Saver. However, there are plenty of other intriguing storylines nad things to know about each horse.
Below is an individual breakdown of every horse in the order of their post positions, with odds in parentheses, recent results and brief analysis included.
Note: All information is courtesy of KentuckyDerby.com unless otherwise specified.
No. 1: Black Onyx (50-1)
Trainer: Kelly Breen
Jockey: Joe Bravo
Recent results: Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park (Grade 3)—win
Analysis: The inside rail puts the 50-1 shot Black Onyx into an even bigger hole—and he wasn't exactly a contender to begin with.
The victory at the Spiral Stakes is impressive, but the field was less than stellar, and Joe Bravo will need a miracle run to get by speedster Oxbow and top contender Revolutionary to his left.
Black Onyx's pedigree also doesn't lend to great stamina, as his sire Hard Rock Ten couldn't qualify for the 2004 Kentucky Derby based on earnings in graded stakes races.
No. 2: Oxbow (30-1)
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Gary Stevens
Recent results: Arkansas Derby (Grade 1)—fifth place; Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park—win
Analysis: The trainer-jockey tandem in this one has combined for two Kentucky Derby triumphs, though lining up alongside Revolutionary will make things difficult.
Stevens' experience can't be underestimated, though, as he pursues his fourth win in the Run for the Roses. He is coming out of retirement to get the mount atop Oxbow, who possesses wonderful speed and should be a factor in the early going.
The question is whether Stevens can weather the traffic early on, and that will depend on the quality of the start. With a better feel for his horse than the first time around in Arkansas, don't be surprised if Stevens leads Oxbow to an unexpectedly solid finish.
No. 3: Revolutionary (10-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Calvin Borel
Recent results: Louisiana Derby (Grade 2)—win
Analysis: Revolutionary presents the best chance that Todd Pletcher has outside of Verrazano to win this first leg of the Triple Crown.
All three of jockey Calvin Borel's previous Kentucky Derby victories came from the No. 8 starting position or closer, so this starting spot actually bodes well for Pletcher's team.
It will be interesting to see how Borel and Stevens battle right next to each other as the race commences. Given the talent that Revolutionary possesses, though, the final turn should come down to him and Normandy Invasion near the inside while Orb and Verrazano make bids far from the rail.
No. 4: Golden Soul (50-1)
Trainer: Dallas Stewart
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Recent results: Louisiana Derby (Grade 2)—fourth place
Analysis: This horse should have a better shot than meets the eye, because Dallas Stewart learned under D. Wayne Lukas for 12 years and Robby Albarado rode Curlin to victory in the Preakness Stakes in 2006.
Having that sort of Triple Crown experience under his belt should help Albarado get a feel for how to pace Golden Soul, and Albarado also guided Curlin to a third-place finish in the Kentucky Derby.
The biggest problem with Golden Soul is his draw: he is sandwiched between two of the best horses in the field in Revolutionary and Normandy Invasion. It would have to be a magical ride for Golden Soul to overcome that.
No. 5: Normandy Invasion (12-1)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Recent results: Wood Memorial Stakes (Grade 1)—place
Analysis: The most important thing to know about Normandy Invasion is that he nearly beat out Verrazano at the Wood Memorial. A strong push at the end showcased the explosiveness the thoroughbred possesses.
Normandy Invasion is in the most successful post position in history, tied with the No. 1 spot in producing 12 past champions. That certainly bodes well for trainer Chad Brown and Co.
Javier Castellano is the leading money earner among jockeys in 2013, per Equibase.com, and that provides an obvious edge. The Venezuelan is still searching for his maiden victory at the year's first major race, though, and has a wonderful opportunity with this colt.
No. 6: Mylute (15-1)
Trainer: Tom Amoss
Jockey: Rosie Napravnik
Recent results: Louisiana Derby (Grade 2)—place
Analysis: Significant history can be made by female jockey Rosie Napravnik, who would become the first of her gender to win in this race's renowned history. She was in the saddle at Churchill Downs in 2011 for the Derby, finishing ninth—a record among women.
Napravnik has been aboard for all three of Mylute's victories, so getting her on the mount was key for trainer Tom Amoss' chances to have a good showing.
Mylute has improved constantly throughout his past six starts, and should that trend continue, this horse may be the one out of the 15-1 cluster to have a massive breakthrough.
No. 7: Giant Finish (50-1)
Trainer: Anthony W. Dutrow
Jockey: Jose L. Espinoza
Recent results: Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park (Grade 3)—show
Analysis: The last-minute addition to the field had only 10 points in the Kentucky Derby Championship Series leading up to this race, so not much is expected of him. A third-place effort at the Spiral Stakes gives Giant Finish the weakest resume among horses on the inside 10 posts.
This is the Kentucky Derby debut for Jose Espinoza, and it will be difficult to feel out the track in the heat of competition with so many strong horses riding alongside him.
It was an achievement for Giant Finish just to get here, and barring the most literal living up to his namesake, this horse shouldn't be a prominent part of the action up front.
No. 8: Goldencents (5-1)
Trainer: Doug O'Neill
Jockey: Kevin Krigger
Recent results: Santa Anita Derby (Grade 1)—win
Analysis: Jockey Kevin Krigger is attempting to become the first African-American to win since 1902, and he is just the second of his race to compete in the Kentucky Derby since 1921.
Krigger has always had dreams to be in this position, and a rousing victory at the Santa Anita Derby gives Goldencents plenty of momentum entering this race. The jockey-horse tandem has proven viable against an elite field in a Grade 1 event.
Goldencents is extremely fast and has the benefit of being trained by Doug O'Neill, whose I'll Have Another captured victory at Churchill Downs last year and also went on to win the Preakness Stakes.
No. 9: Overanalyze (15-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Rafael Berjarano
Recent results: Arkansas Derby (Grade 1)—win
Analysis: A disappointing fifth-place effort at the Gotham Stakes was remedied in a big way in the Arkansas Derby, as Overanalyze strode across the finish line first in the marquee Grade 1 race.
Overanalyze is just another of Pletcher's many promising thoroughbreds, and considering there are five horses at 15-1, it's really difficult to project how Overanalyze will run based on odds.
However, the three-year-old has one of the most impressive victories entering the event. That has to count for something amidst the pressure-packed stage in Louisville.
No. 10: Palace Malice (20-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Mike Smith
Recent results: Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland (Grade 1)—place
Analysis: The Hall of Fame tandem of Pletcher and Smith have produced a quality horse in Palace Malice, who came in second at the Blue Grass Stakes.
Palace Malice couldn't quite manage to beat out Java's War in that race at Keeneland, but still has similar odds of winning the Kentucky Derby.
Ironically, Smith was in the same No. 10 post position when he rode Giacomo to victory at Churchill Downs in 2005. Giacomo was a whopping 50-1 long shot, marking the second-biggest upset in the race's history.
No. 11: Lines of Battle (30-1)
Trainer: Aidan O'Brien
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Recent results: UAE Derby (Grade 2)—place
Analysis: The competition Lines of Battle faced overseas simply doesn't quite stack up to what he will encounter on Saturday.
Having said that, his pedigree is promising. As the fourth stakes contender produced by his dam Black Speck, Lines of Battle has the background of success that just might translate to a strong run at Churchill Downs.
Not quite as much is known about Lines of Battle since he's based internationally, but this will be the fifth horse Aidan O'Brien places in the Derby. It would be quite a story if Lines of Battle were the first ever champion to be trained in Europe.
No. 12: Itsmyluckyday (15-1)
Trainer: Eddie Plesa Jr.
Jockey: Elvis Trujillo
Recent results: Florida Derby (Grade 1)—place
Analysis: Keep your eyes peeled for Itsmyluckyday, whose record was blemished at the Florida Derby in Gulfstream Park only by this race's odds-on favorite, Orb.
A runner-up finish at Gulfstream is nothing for this team to be ashamed of, and it actually should inspire confidence in Eddie Plesa Jr. that his thoroughbred can run with the world's best.
That has Itsmyluckyday as a bit of an underrated commodity and, among the crowded 15-1 propositions, may be the smart bet if he runs as he did in Florida once again.
No. 13: Falling Sky (50-1)
Trainer: John Terranova II
Jockey: Luis Saez
Recent results: Arkansas Derby (Grade 1)—fourth place; Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2)—show
Analysis: Neither his pedigree nor his previous results indicate a strong run from Falling Sky at the Kentucky Derby.
Falling Sky's dam is Sea Dragoness, who was a pure sprinter and never won any race that exceeded a distance of five-and-a-half furlongs. So if heredity is any indication, it appears the stamina required for Falling Sky on a 10-furlong track isn't quite there.
This is the Kentucky Derby, though, and if the pace is slow early on, perhaps Falling Sky has a chance to burst nearer to the front of the pack than the odds suggest.
No. 14: Verrazano (4-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: John R. Velazquez
Recent results: Wood Stakes Memorial (Grade 1)—win; Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2)—win
Analysis: Orb is the No. 1 favorite by a slim margin, but the post position advantage goes to Verrazano.
This is Todd Pletcher's best shot at the Run for the Roses, and Hall of Fame jockey John R. Velazquez is in the fold to guide the intriguing thoroughbred.
With a rare combination of size and speed, Verrazano has as good of a chance as anyone to come away with the first leg of the Triple Crown in tow. The only discouraging sign is that he ran out of gas a bit at the end of his Wood Memorial triumph.
Velazquez must rein him in for as long as possible, because there is little doubt that anyone will be able to challenge him if he has room to operate at the end.
No. 15: Charming Kitten (20-1)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Edgar Prado
Recent results: Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland (Grade 1)—show
Analysis: An impressive run at Keeneland gives Charming Kitten solid odds at Churchill Downs. This speedy horse has a chance to nose out in front of the top contenders in the field early on.
The biggest issue will be maintaining that form. Should it be a slower track, the physical toll it will take on Charming Kitten to set the early pace will likely tire the horse out too soon to be a factor in the final minute.
Charming Kitten has the quickness to contend, but being stuck between the Derby's two favorites will be too much to weather no matter what conditions are like.
No. 16: Orb (7-2)
Trainer: Shug McGaughey
Jockey: Joel Rosario
Recent results: Florida Derby (Grade 1)—win
Analysis: Neither McGaughey nor Rosario have Kentucky Derby wins to their credits, but what an opportunity this is with the hottest horse in the field.
Orb has been marvelous recently, winning his past three races, including the Florida Derby, which gives his resume all the credibility necessary of a Churchill Downs winner.
The three-year-old has plenty of room to maneuver in the auxiliary gate. Having said that, it's going to be a fight to stick with Verrazano given his spot and the contenders Java's War and Vyjack occupying the two posts furthest from the rail.
No. 17: Will Take Charge (20-1)
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Jockey: Jon Court
Recent results: Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park (Grade 2)—win
Analysis: The physical Frac Daddy is to his right, and the top favorite is to his left. Not a good sign for Will Take Charge.
Jockey Jon Court has won 3,000 times in his storied career at some of the most pristine venues in horse racing. This would be a heck of a feat to smell the roses in the winners circle if he takes Will Take Charge the distance.
There is at least the Rebel Stakes victory as material to draw on, but bear in mind that no one starting in the 17th post position has ever won the Kentucky Derby.
No. 18: Frac Daddy (50-1)
Trainer: Kenny McPeek
Jockey: Victor Lebron
Recent results: Arkansas Derby (Grade 1)—place
Analysis: 50-1 shots are never wise to bet on, but among the four with that lowly label, the option to go with would have to be Frac Daddy.
This horse's strength has improved immensely as of late, and the frame he possesses has never been in question. Especially if the track is slower, Frac Daddy could really bother the stronger contenders that flank him.
Frac Daddy's pedigree has a history of success at 10 furlongs, and he is second from crop to Scat Daddy, who as a stallion had two Kentucky Derby runners last year alone.
No. 19: Java's War (15-1)
Trainer: Kenny McPeek
Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Recent results: Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland (Grade 1)—win; Tampa Bay Derby (Grade 2)—place
Analysis: Winning the Blue Grass Stakes is no small feat, and it showed that Java's War learned well from his second-place effort in Tampa Bay.
Java's War doesn't have the greatest starting position, though it is worth noting that I'll Have Another won from that same post in 2012—with the very same 15-1 odds.
It's unlikely that Java's War would have been in that territory with a better draw. That makes him the perfect candidate to explode to the finish and stun everyone in Louisville.
No. 20: Vyjack (15-1)
Trainer: Rudy Rodriguez
Jockey: Garrett Gomez
Recent results: Wood Memorial Stakes (Grade 1)—show; Gotham Stakes (Grade 3)—win
Analysis: This is a talented horse to be sure, yet endurance may be an issue at 10 furlongs. At the Wood Memorial, Vyjack was in great position to upset Verrazano. Instead, he faded down the final straightaway and was also passed by Normandy Invasion at the very end.
Starting this far out wide is a significant disadvantage as well, as there is a lot of ground to cover to get tighter with the contenders.
Garrett Gomez must dart to the left coming out of the first half-mile or so in order to maintain pace and hold off long enough before cutting Vyjack loose entering the final turn.