135th Ketucky Derby Horse Preview

Liam ParkerContributor IApril 29, 2009

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 28: General Quarters runs on the track during the morning training for the 135th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 28, 2009 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Let’s have a look at all the horses in the 135thKentucky Derby. Please note all odds are current at time of writing.


I Want Revenge    9/4

I Want Revenge is the current odds on favorite to win the derby and it’s easy to see why. The horse has never finished lower than 3rd. The horse was impressive in both the Wood Memorial and Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct.  Trainer Jeff Mullins who is returning from a 1 week anti-drug suspension can hardly contain himself.     


Dunkirk                  9/2 

Dunkirk is among the favorites and don’t get me wrong he’s an exceptional horse but history is against him in the 135th Kentucky Derby. Dunkirk was unraced as a two year old, it’s been 127 years since Apollo won the derby under the same conditions. Jockey legend Garrett Gomez left Dunkirk to ride with Pioneer of the Nile for the Derby.


Pioneer of the Nile         11/2 *a Rory Gold favorite

Pedigree, this horse has it. Pioneer of the Nile was sired by derby runner up Empire Maker and Star of Goshen whose lone stakes victory was by 11.5 lengths.  Pioneer of the Nile is a closer and in spite of running in paceless races continues to win. 

Remember back to my past derby article where I said “Get on the trainers train,” well trainer Bob Beffert has trained three Kentucky Derby Winners. The only thing holding him back is this will be his first start on dirt; no horse has won the derby after only racing on synthetics.


Friesan Fire            7/1

Friesan Fire is trained by Larry Jones, Jones if you recall has had the place horse in the previous two Kentucky Derbies. Friesan Fire has the best tactical speed (running close to the leaders and maintaining enough to make a move late) in the field. 

Fire is coming off a long layoff and it’s been over half a century since a horse has won the Derby with more than a 7 week break.

Papa Clem              13/1 

Papa Clem has yet to finish lower than 2nd in any start. Jockey Rafael Bejarano has won six straight meet titles at California and has won titles at every Kentucky race track.  The horse is named after owner Bo Hirsch’s legendary father Clement L. Hirsch.


Chocolate Candy       14/1  *a Rory Gold favorite

Chocolate Candy is my personal choice to win the Derby or at least finish in the money. The horse is a closer but as we saw with his second place in the Santa Anita Derby the horse can run a paceless race.

For a horse that has never raced on dirt he put in the second fastest training session at 5 furlongs.


Regal Ransom            15/1 

Regal Ransom won the UAE Derby beating impressive stable mate Desert Party. He’s an incredibly fast horse and will be one of the pace settlers early in the Derby. If the Horse can stay in the second pack and save the speed for the stretch Regal Ransom could join Funny Cide as the second derby winner sired by Distorted Humor.

Desert Party               15/1

He’s been a classy stakes winner as a 2 year old and has had three strong prep races at 3. Desert Party, along with Regal Ransom will represent Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktou’s Godolphin Racing’s return to the derby after a 6 year absence. The concern for Desert party will be that he peaked in Dubai.


General Quarters       15/1

No horse finished a Kentucky Derby prep race faster than General Quarters and the only entrant who has won on synthetic and dirt in 2009 graded stakes. This could be a true Cinderella story should General Quarters wins as he is the only horse in Tom McCarthy’s stable.  McCarthy is owner, trainer and groom. Could the derby give us a feel good 1 against a million story?


Musket Man             18/1 *a Rory Gold favorite

Musket Man could be an overlooked horse; his odds are long considering he’s 5 for 6 in his races so far. Jockey Eibar Coa had the opportunity to ride General Quarters but decided to remain with Musket Man. This could be a horse to sneak into a place or show finish so watch out when you place your trifecta.

Hold Me Back                 25/1 

Hold Me Back has had only 1 dirt start and it didn’t finish well, finishing fifth in the Remsen in 2008. He is a fast horse but I don’t see him being a factor in the finish.


Mr. Hot stuff            25/1 

This will be Mr. Hot Stuff’s dirt debut and this late bloomer is showing signs he could be a factor in the Derby but I don’t see Mr. Hot Stuff finishing in the top half of the field.

Win Willy                30/1 

Win Willy had a huge win in the Rebel Stakes while overcoming 56/1 odds. The horse will not get the chance to run his race at the Derby so don’t expect Win Willy to place.


Advice                 30/1 

Advice is just happy to be here, the horse wasn’t expected to be in the derby until his win at Lexington. In his only dirt appearance he finished 5th in an average field.


West Side Bernie           40/1 

West Side Bernie is a long shot with a shot although a lot of factors need to come into play. The horse put on an impressive display at the Wood Memorial finishing 2nd to Kentucky Derby favorite I Want Revenge.  

West Side Bernie will need I want Revenge to get caught in traffic and will have to overcome his poor pedigree to upset the field.


Summer Bird                   40/1 

This will be his 4th start and even twice horse of the year Curlin couldn’t win the Derby after only 3 previous races.

Flying Private                  50/1 

Trained by legendary D. Wayne Lukas, Flying private could join 2005 Kentucky Derby winner Giacamo as the only horses with such long odds to win the Derby. The pedigree is there being sired by 2000 winner Fusachi Pegasus, who was from mare and 1990 winner Unbridled. If you have an extra 10 spot this might be a good horse to put it on.


Mine That Bird               75/1

Mine that Bird is the only Canadian interest in the Derby, although he was sold to a New Mexico stable. The horse won’t be a factor in the finish the Kentucky Derby will be too fast for the slower than the field horse.


Atomic Rain         OFF 

Atomic Rain is a late replacement in this years Derby, the bookies have yet to set their odds on this long shot.


Thanks for Reading

Stay Gold,

Rory Gold


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