It's Kentucky Derby day, folks, and that means mint juleps, betting slips, manic weather updates and, you guessed it, extremely premature talk about the possibility of a Triple Crown winner this year.
I have my Derby picks ready and a few bold predictions for the Triple Crown as a whole ready to go. You may not like them, but I'm sticking with them.
Now let's get racing.
There Won't Be a Triple Crown Winner This Year
Let's get the big prediction out of the way first: I don't see a Triple Crown winner emerging from this field. It's not because I don't think there is a horse talented enough to pull off the feat—though that very well may be the case—but rather because this feels like a very deep field.
Revolutionary (5-1) is the new favorite for the Derby (as of 3:30 p.m. ET via KentuckyDerby.com). Goldencents (7-1) is more than capable of winning the race. Verrazano (9-1) and Orb (8-1) opened as favorites and aren't to be underestimated. Itsmyluckyday (9-1) has become a popular choice, while Normandy Invasion (8-1) is getting plenty of love.
And I really like Java's War (24-1) as a sleeper.
I just don't see a dominant horse emerging from such a deep field this year. I could obviously be wrong—and I hope I am—but I'm afraid the Triple Crown drought dating back to 1978 will continue.
Three Races, Three Winners
Remember all of that business about no Triple Crown winners? Well, not only do I think we won't see a horse win all three major events this year, I don't even think we'll see a horse win two of the Triple Crown legs.
I like Goldencents to win the Kentucky Derby. The horse is as fast as we've seen in this field, and he tactically fits the Kentucky Derby so long as his endurance holds. He should be able to keep pace with the early leaders, finish strong and hold off the deep closers.
In a true sprint at the Preakness Stakes, however, I'll take my chances with Verrazano. I don't see the horse breaking the streak of horses that didn't run as two-year-olds failing to win at the Kentucky Derby (dating back to 1882), but I like Verrazano in the sprint that is the Preakness.
And in the mile-and-a-half at the Belmont Stakes, I'll take my chances with Normandy Invasion, a late closer that saves its best for last.
Three races, three winners. You heard it here first.
Orb Will Be a Trifecta Darling
Go ahead and put Orb as your second-place horse in each race. He's a talented horse that can either stalk depending on his post position or settle back in the pack and chase down the competition. While I don't love Orb to win any of these races, I think he's the perfect blend of speed and endurance to remain competitive in all three.
Will Orb be the Buffalo Bills of this year's Triple Crown and finish each race in second place? I'm going out on a limb and saying yes, Orb will be.
In case you were wondering, I have Goldencents, Orb and Revolutionary, in that order, as my top three finishers at the Derby.