Kentucky Derby 2013: Breaking Down Prestigious Race's Top Contenders

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIApril 24, 2013

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 02:  Jockey Calvin Borel holds the 135th Kentucky Derby trophy after his win atop Mine That Bird on May 2, 2009 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

With just one remaining wild-card race before the 2013 Kentucky Derby, the field for the prestigious race is almost set, with plenty of top contenders this year.

The top-20 horses in the points standings will qualify for a gate position on the day, with plenty of big chances to be found. From the current points leader, Orb, to horses right on the edge of the field like Winning Cause, contenders for the title this year can be found everywhere.

Read on to see the top contenders for the Kentucky Derby this year.

Full standings courtesy of Kentucky Derby.com

Orb—Currently No. 1 overall

Orb will head into the Kentucky Derby this year as one of the firm favorites to win the race, which is understandable given its rich form throughout the year.

After winning the Grade I Florida Derby earlier last month, Orb cemented himself as one of the top horses in the field this year—building on his previous victory in the Grade II event at Gulfstream Park back in February over the shorter distance.

Orb has a great pedigree, and with jockey Joel Rossario on board will definitely be a tough horse to beat over 1.25 miles. Having a Hall of Fame trainer in Shug McGaughey won't hurt his chances either.

Verrazano—Currently No. 2 overall

After victories in the Wood Memorial and the Tampa Bay Derby, Verrazano will likely match Orb for favoritism on the day, with the most exciting horse in the sport holding very strong claims for the title.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Kentucky Derby before, as has jockey John Velazquez, and the pair's experience for this prestigious race will put Verrazano in a strong position—not that he already wasn't already shaping up very well.

His gritty win at the Wood Memorial didn't show the dominance that he did in previous races, but it did prove he could grind out a win when required. 

That will surely find him in good stead heading into the Derby.

Goldcents—Currently No. 3 overall

Goldcents has dropped on his form from the start of the year, but it was hard to fault his most recent performance: winning the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in dominant fashion. He cruised to the front and easily held off the favored Flashback en route to a commanding victory.

He should find similar form when he lines up in the Kentucky Derby next weekend, and if that happens, Goldcents will be very hard to run down on the day,

His pedigree might suggest he'll be a little bit hit-and-miss coming into the 1.25 mile course, but given the form he's in (and the knowledge of trainer Doug O'Neill to have his horses ready for big races), it's hard to look past Goldcents being a big challenger on the day.

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