The field for the 2013 Kentucky Derby is officially set, with 19 horses vying to capture the first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown at Churchill Downs.
An unfortunate injury to dark horse Black Onyx reduced the typical number of competitors, as reported on Friday by Churchill Downs PR's official Twitter page:
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
The Kentucky Derby's official Twitter page then sent out an update, explaining why Black Onyx had to unfortunately relinquish his spot at the last minute:
Kentucky Derby @KentuckyDerby
Black Onyx has a chip in his left ankle, non-displaced. Noticed some swelling in the ankle previous to training. #KyDerby5/3/2013, 4:40:19 PM
So, now, the No. 1 post position is unoccupied, which adds slightly more space away from the rail. That should at least somewhat change the complexion of the race.
What will also loom large is the weather, as Weather.com forecasts an 80 percent chance of precipitation on Saturday. The likelihood of heavy rainfall increases as the 6:24 p.m. ET post time approaches, so it will be interesting to monitor leading up to the Run for the Roses.
Below is an overview of all the entries in Louisville, as well as viewing information, lineup analysis and a power ranking of the top contenders.
Note: All information and odds, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of KentuckyDerby.com.
When: Saturday, May 4
Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky.
Post Time: Approximately 6:24 p.m. ET
TV: NBC (coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET)
*NBC Sports Network has coverage of undercard races, beginning at 11 a.m. ET.
Live Stream: NBC Sports
Radio: Horse Racing Radio Network, Sirius 93 & 86/XM 209
|1||Black Onyx ||— ||Kelly Breen ||Scratched|
|2||Oxbow ||Gary Stevens ||D. Wayne Lukas ||24-1|
|3||Revolutionary||Calvin Borel||Todd Pletcher ||5-1|
|4||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart||32-1|
|5||Normandy Invasion ||Javier Castellano ||Chad Brown ||8-1|
|6||Mylute ||Rosie Napravnik ||Tom Amoss ||14-1|
|7||Giant Finish||Jose L. Espinoza||Anthony W. Dutrow||43-1|
|8||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill||5-1|
|9||Overanalyze||Rafael Bejarano||Todd Pletcher||15-1|
|10||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher||23-1|
|11||Lines of Battle||Ryan Moore||Aidan O'Brien||43-1|
|12||Itsmyluckyday||Elvis Trujillo||Eddie Plesa, Jr.||11-1|
|13||Falling Sky||Luis Saez||John Terranova II||48-1|
|14||Verrazano ||John R. Velazquez ||Todd Pletcher ||11-1|
|15||Charming Kitten ||Edgar Prado ||Todd Pletcher ||32-1|
|16||Orb||Joel Rosario ||Claude R. McGaughey III ||6-1|
|17||Will Take Charge||Jon Court ||D. Wayne Lukas ||30-1|
|18||Frac Daddy||Victor Lebron||Ken McPeek ||14-1|
|19||Java's War||Julien Leparoux||Ken McPeek||25-1|
|20||Vyjack||Garrett Gomez ||Rudy Rodriguez ||46-1|
Due to Black Onyx's withdrawal and the weather presumably playing a factor, the odds look significantly different than they did in Wednesday's morning lines. Orb was the favorite at 7-2, but he has dropped all the way to 6-1.
Todd Pletcher's Verrazano began his run-up to the Derby as the horse to beat, and he's suddenly knocked down to 11-1. The new top contenders feature another Pletcher trainee in Revolutionary and Goldencents, who are both at 5-1.
One big drop came in the form of Vyjack, who could have easily beaten Verrazano at the Wood Memorial Stakes. Instead, he faded down the stretch and is dropping like a stone in the eyes of oddsmakers. After opening as a 15-1 shot on the far No. 20 post, he's all the way back to 46-1.
The horse experiencing the polar opposite of that—a huge bump into contention—is Frac Daddy, who was perceived as a 50-1 non-factor before ascending to 14-1. It makes sense, because he is a huge horse, and his physicality would translate nicely if the track is indeed slower in the rain.
Power Ranking Top Contenders
4. Revolutionary (5-1)
With Pletcher as his trainer and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel getting the mount, it's easy to see how Revolutionary would be a popular pick.
Pat Forde of Yahoo! brings up an excellent point about the ramifications of Black Onyx's absence and how it helps Revolutionary:
Pat Forde @YahooForde
Black Onyx was 29-1 at time of scratch. Good news for Revolutionary (5-1) and Calvin Borel? One fewer horse to get past from 3 hole to rail.5/3/2013, 3:36:42 PM
Here's the thing, though: Oxbow will be right next to him, and he's jockeyed by Gary Stevens, who happens to be another three-time winner in this marquee race. It's going to be a heck of a battle between those two.
Oxbow may only be listed at 24-1, but he has wonderful speed and will benefit as much as anyone with the extra space on the inside rail.
Another speedster—Normandy Invasion (8-1)—is just one horse away at the No. 5 slot. Despite being on the skinnier side, the oddsmakers like him to make a strong push. That's a wise bet, because he nearly overtook Verrazano at the end of the Wood Memorial Stakes.
It's a tougher road for Revolutionary than the odds would suggest, so that is why he ranks No. 4 in these rankings despite his recently enhanced status.
3. Orb (6-1)
It's been quite an underwhelming day for Orb, who is now projected to ultimately place third. However, those odds may be dropping more into his favor as the race approaches.
Byron King of the Daily Racing Form believes that 6-1 number will shrink for Orb before Saturday's race:
Byron King @DRFByronKing
Although not favored in the current win pool for the @Kentuckyderby , Orb is popular in the Oaks/Derby double; expect 6-1 odds to drop Sat5/3/2013, 7:46:01 PM
Orb worked out exceptionally well all week, and the dynamic changes to the odds are more likely attributable to the improvement by his competitors than anything he did individually.
The win by nearly three lengths at the Florida Derby was Orb's third in a row, and it was even a Grade I race, which gives him a better resume than most. Gulfstream Park is an ideal venue to lay the foundation and train for Churchill Downs, and that should reveal itself regardless of track conditions.
Having made that case in Orb's favor, I agree with the oddsmakers: Bet on this horse to show.
2. Normandy Invasion (8-1)
There is a reason Normandy Invasion's odds dropped from 12-1. He is extremely swift and is in prime position at No. 5, which is tied with the first post position as the winningest starting point in the Derby's storied history.
Normandy Invasion has brought on arguably the most inspiring story of the week. Owner Rick Porter invited four World War II veterans who were at the actual historical event nearly seven decades ago to attend the Derby, according to Gary Mihoces of USA Today.
Even with the sentimentality of that development aside, trainer Chad Brown is due for a Triple Crown win. Thankfully, Brown can count on the No. 1 money-earning jockey of 2013 in Javier Castellano.
Claire Novak of BloodHorse.com can't quite figure out the volatile three-year-old, but she is inclined to think that a very strong run is in him:
Claire Novak @ClaireNovak
Way Normandy Invasion has been training this week, he's either going to kick a** or fall apart mentally lol. I'm leaning toward the 1st one5/3/2013, 4:58:53 PM
Castellano is seeking his first triumph in the Run for the Roses, and the fact that Normandy Invasion is now favored over Verrazano speaks volumes to how much his stock is rising.
1. Goldencents (5-1)
Perhaps this is at least somewhat a result of a rooting interest, but this would be among the neatest storylines for a prospective victor.
The scratch of Black Onyx anointed Goldencents the co-favorite along with Revolutionary after being the No. 3 contender when the lines opened.
If Goldencents finds the winners circle, Kevin Krigger would be first black jockey to mount a Derby winner since Jimmy Winkfield in 1902. The only other black jockey to even participate since 1921 was Marlon St. Julien, who rode Curule to a seventh-place finish back in 2000.
Another interesting aspect about Goldencents is that he's partially owned by Louisville Cardinals head basketball coach Rick Pitino.
There are so many reasons for the home crowd to cheer on this speedy horse, who won the Santa Anita Derby in impressive fashion. Trainer Doug O'Neill is also looking to become the seventh to pull off back-to-back wins in the Derby, and he just may have the thoroughbred to deliver the goods.