The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby will be over in a blur on Saturday evening, and the 2013 field has several contenders that have emerged as the top favorites in the constantly dynamic odds.
Revolutionary has the best odds of winning at 5-1, followed by Goldencents and Orb, who are both projected generously at 7-1. Churchill Downs is experiencing some rain leading up to the most exciting two minutes in sports, though, and it will be interesting to see how each competitor adjusts.
Here are some last-minute predictions for the top three odds-on favorites, and how realistic their chances are of winning the latest Run for the Roses.
Note: All information and odds, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of KentuckyDerby.com.
2013 Kentucky Derby | Churchill Downs, Louisville, Ky. | Purse: $2.18 Million | Grade I | Distance: 10 furlongs | Post Time: 7-7:30 p.m. ET
|1. Black Onyx||Kelly Breen||Scratch|
|2. Oxbow||D. Lukas||22-1|
|3. Revolutionary||Todd Pletcher||5-1|
|4. Golden Soul||Dallas Stewart||29-1|
|5. Normandy Invasion||Chad Brown||8-1|
|6. Mylute||Thomas Amoss||13-1|
|7. Giant Finish||Anthony Dutrow||35-1|
|8. Goldencents||Doug O'Neill||7-1|
|9. Overanalyze||Todd Pletcher||14-1|
|10. Palace Malice||Todd Pletcher||22-1|
|11. Lines of Battle||Aidan O'Brien||32-1|
|12. Itsmyluckyday||Edward Plesa, Jr.||9-1|
|13. Falling Sky||Jon Terranova II||36-1|
|14. Verrazano||Todd Pletcher||9-1|
|15. Charming Kitten||Todd Pletcher ||29-1|
|16. Orb||Claude McGaughey III||7-1|
|17. Will Take Charge||D. Lukas||31-1|
|18. Frac Daddy||Kenneth McPeek||22-1|
|19. Java's War||Kenneth McPeek||25-1|
|20. Vyjack||Rudy Rodriguez||31-1|
*Odds are current as of 4:00 p.m. ET
Having three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel in the saddle certainly doesn't hurt Revolutionary's cause, and that's a big factor as to why the horse is the solo No. 1 favorite.
ESPN's Rick Reilly played a bit on Borel's name to back up his bet on Revolutionary, citing the uncanny ability Borel has to slip near the rail and make bold, fantastic passing moves:
Rick Reilly @ReillyRick
#BettingIsWrong otherwise I'd take Revolutionary at 5-1 in the Derby w/ Calvin Bo-rail coming out of the 3 hole.2013-5-4 14:20:08
Here's the biggest problem Borel faces in executing that strategy: Gary Stevens—another three-time winner in this renowned event.
Stevens will be aboard Oxbow, who is at 22-1 but will benefit from the absence of Black Onyx in the first post position. While more room to operate is good for Borel, Stevens knows his horse has exceptional speed, and that could force Borel out of his game plan.
It will be a fun battle to watch between those two jockeys, and although Borel should get the best of it, Oxbow should do just enough to knock Revolutionary off course to prevent him from winning.
Kevin Krigger could become the first black jockey since 1902 to win the Run for the Roses, and Doug O'Neill has a shot at becoming just the seventh trainer ever to have back-to-back Kentucky Derby triumphs.
That's a lot of history to overcome, but this formidable team and extremely fast horse have all the tools to make a magnificent push down the final straightaway.
Goldencents won the Santa Anita Derby, and has at least some experience training on a wet track—though not in a competitive environment (h/t HorseRacingNation.com). That's more than some of the other top competitors can say, though.
Louisville Cardinals head basketball coach Rick Pitino also owns a small stake in Goldencents, so the home crowd will likely be rallying behind this colt in particular.
If there were a contender to continue the trend of top favorites not winning for the fifth year in a row, the best bet would be Goldencents. Having said that, I like Normandy Invasion to make a final charge similar to how he did at the Wood Memorial Stakes and beat Goldencents by a nose.
J.J. Hysell of the Courier-Journal noted that the inclement weather would benefit both Revolutionary and Goldencents:
J.J. Hysell @trifectabox
#KyDerby runners who move up in the slop: Revolutionary, Itsmyluckyday, Goldencents2013-5-4 18:54:20
But notice how the two previously analyzed horses are included in that list, but Orb is not. Orb does not have the experience on sloppy tracks nor the formidable physicality to overcome the conditions enough to ultimately win.
However, there is a reason that Orb was the morning-line favorite. Even with a less than ideal No. 16 post position, the three-year-old was thought to be the thoroughbred to beat initially.
Men's Journal's official Twitter page dished out a tip as to why Orb is held in such high regard, citing his distance breeding:
Men's Journal @MensJournal
#KentuckyDerby Tip: Orb is the only horse in the field with true distance breeding. A chaser, he'll surge strong.2013-5-4 18:00:01
It should be a decent run for Orb, especially with Joel Rosario on board as the jockey. Per the NBC Sports Network's mid-afternoon coverage, Rosario has ridden 129 winners already in 2013, making him second amongst jockeys in earnings.
However, the track will be too much for Orb to overcome. With the physical Frac Daddy nearby along with the supremely gifted Verrazano having early inside advantage, it's hard to like Orb's chances as much.
Prediction: Fifth place