Kentucky Derby 2014: Under-the-Radar Horses to Watch at Churchill Downs

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2014

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 04: The field heads into the first turn during the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby at  Churchill Downs on May 4, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The attention of the horse-racing world will turn to Churchill Downs May 3, and names like California Chrome and Dance With Fate are sure to draw plenty of headlines leading up to the race.

However, there promises to be a number of horses that compete for the coveted crown outside of just the favored couple. After all, it wouldn’t be the most exciting two minutes in sports if one or two horses consistently blew past the rest of the field every year.


With that in mind, let’s take a look at a couple of horses that are somewhat under the radar now but could make some noise in Churchill Downs.



Adam Coglianese

Samraat is a New York-bred horse that counts an impressive five victories in six starts to his resume. The only place he failed to win was at the Wood Memorial, which ended his five-race victory streak to start his career.

Among those five wins were well-deserved victories over Uncle Sigh in the grade III Withers and Gotham stakes, so this is certainly a horse to watch as the Kentucky Derby draws near. 

The most interesting aspect, and perhaps most alarming if Samraat is a horse you are thinking of backing, about his chances at Churchill Downs is the fact that he has never raced outside of New York. Samraat has spent some time training in Florida, so it’s not as if he has never left the state, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on going forward.


Wildcat Red

Adam Coglianese

Speaking of horses with some momentum on their side, Wildcat Red has finished no worse than second place in his past seven starts since Gulfstream last September 14.

What’s more, the horse recently finished the Florida portion of his preparation for the Derby and impressed by working a half-mile. Trainer Jose Garoffalo was certainly pleased with Wildcat Red’s speed, according to, via

"He was flying. The good thing was: he got his last eighth in 11-flat. That's all we needed. We don't need anything more than that."

Something to keep an eye on as the race approaches is the fact that Wildcat Red has been ridden by five different riders in his last five races.

Luis Saez, who led Wildcat Red to a victory in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Feb. 22, will ride the horse at the Kentucky Derby.

Look for that familiarity to come into play, especially if Wildcat Red can get an early lead.

That victory by Saez came in front-running fashion at Gulfstream, so he understands how to ride the horse with others in pursuit. Considering the loaded field that will be at Churchill Downs, that promises to be a valuable trait come race day.