One thing that makes the Triple Crown races, and more specifically the Kentucky Derby, special is the fact everybody becomes a professional handicapper for a day. Sometimes, picking the winner out of such a talented field is like finding a needle in the haystack.
There are no shortage of contenders in the 2013 group, starting with morning-line favorite Orb. Black Onyx is one horse that won't get a chance to run for the roses after being scratched on Friday. That leaves 19 derby hopefuls to run in Saturday's big race.
Churchill Downs PR @DerbyMedia
Breaking News: Black Onyx has been scratched from #KyDerby 139. Stewards decide that post 1 will be left open. More info coming. #breaking5/3/2013, 3:29:30 PM
Let's take a look at the entire lineup of horses for the race, along with the opening odds. It's followed by a breakdown of the 139th Kentucky Derby and a prediction for which horse will become etched in history by winning the first leg of the Triple Crown.
|1||Black Onyx ||Joe Bravo ||Kelly Breen ||SCR|
|2||Oxbow ||Gary Stevens ||D. Wayne Lukas ||30-1|
|3||Revolutionary||Calvin Borel||Todd Pletcher ||10-1|
|4||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart||50-1|
|5||Normandy Invasion ||Javier Castellano ||Chad Brown ||12-1|
|6||Mylute ||Rosie Napravnik ||Tom Amoss ||15-1|
|7||Giant Finish||Jose Espinoza||Anthony Dutrow||50-1|
|8||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill||5-1|
|9||Overanalyze||Rafael Bejarano||Todd Pletcher||15-1|
|10||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher||20-1|
|11||Lines of Battle||Ryan Moore||Aidan O'Brien||30-1|
|12||Itsmyluckyday||Elvis Trujillo||Eddie Plesa Jr.||15-1|
|13||Falling Sky||Luis Saez||John Terranova II||50-1|
|14||Verrazano ||John Velazquez ||Todd Pletcher ||4-1|
|15||Charming Kitten ||Edgar Prado ||Todd Pletcher ||20-1|
|16||Orb||Joel Rosario ||Claude McGaughey III ||7-2|
|17||Will Take Charge||Jon Court ||D. Wayne Lukas ||20-1|
|18||Frac Daddy||Victor Lebron||Kenny McPeek ||50-1|
|19||Java's War||Julien Leparoux||Kenny McPeek||15-1|
|20||Vyjack||Garrett Gomez ||Rudy Rodriguez |
Predicting Kentucky Derby Winner
As suggested by the video of his victory in the Santa Anita Derby, Goldencents is the pick. Before taking a deeper dive into his résumé, let's examine why he gets the nod over the other top contenders.
While favored Orb is on four-race winning streak, his run in the Florida Derby left a lot to be desired. He emerged over a marginal field, but he didn't flash the front-end speed he's going to need in the derby starting from gate No. 16.
He also started his career with three straight subpar outings. He didn't break his maiden until the fourth time out and has only flashed truly elite form a couple times in his career. The talent is there. Too many question marks about consistency, though.
Verrazano is undefeated in four career races, which is causing him to generate a lot of buzz. In reality, that's just as much of a negative as it is a positive because he's never been forced to handle adversity. There will be plenty of it in such a large field.
What if he gets closed out during the early dash for the rail or is forced to keep up with a lightning pace a horse like Mylute could set? Those types of concerns haven't been addressed because he's had so little experience. He could overcome it, but it's no guarantee.
Then there's Revolutionary. He's another horse who overcame some early struggles to earn a spot in the Derby. The mile-and-a-quarter distance is going to be a major issue, though. He hasn't illustrated enough late pace to think he'll have the necessary kick to hold off 18 other horses.
That brings us back to Goldencents. Everything has fallen into place perfectly for the horse who's partially owned by Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino.
He will start from one of the ideal gates, No. 8, which has produced eight winners––tied for the second highest total––since 1930. He's coming off a terrific showing in the Santa Anita Derby. And his trainer, Doug O'Neill, guided I'll Have Another to a Kentucky Derby triumph last year.
Speed is Goldencents' biggest weapon, and he's shown the ability to use it both early in the race and late in the race, whenever jockey Kevin Krigger sees fit. Speaking of Krigger, his ability to handle the talented colt has been spot on.
The colt had one bad race, the San Felipe Stakes in March, and bounced right back to have his best showing to date in the Santa Anita Derby. That's the overcoming of adversity factor Verrazano hasn't been forced to prove.
It all adds up to a Kentucky Derby victory for Goldencents.