Kentucky Derby Picks: Trendy Horses You Should Avoid at All Costs

Brian Leigh@@BLeighDATFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2013

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03:  Horses walk in the stable as the sun rises during morning workouts for the 2013 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, the apex of the horse racing calendar, is almost upon us. 

The annual Run for the Roses, which kicks off the famed Triple Crown, is not only great for the sport, though it’s even better for degenerate gamblers like myself.

Horse racing and betting go together like peanut butter and jelly. There’s no finer combination. So if you find yourself in the immediate area of Las Vegas, strap your eyes here and heed my advice.

It’s tempting to bet on favorites, but not always fruitful. Here are three trendy picks that will break your heart on Saturday.


In some sports, and in some races, being the “favorite” is a very big deal. It’s a distinction earned over a large, seasonlong body of work. It’s what the Louisville Cardinals did before winning the NCAA championship this April, and what the Miami Heat did last summer.

But in horse racing, the Kentucky Derby in particular, that distinction does not have a causal relationship with success. Not even close. 

Just check out the how the last four favorites have done at Churchill Downs. One place, and three finishes outside the top five.

Goldencents is the prohibitive favorite for many reasons, although it goes worth saying that parity is alive and well in this field and he isn’t a knockout favorite by any stretch. He’s a quality horse with the genuine look of a champion. Seeing him win would obviously not shock me in the slightest.

But I err on the side of trend. And the trends say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you shouldn’t bet “win” on the top favorite. You probably shouldn’t even bet on him to show.

Sorry, Kevin Krigger, who could become the first African-American jockey since 1902 to win the Kentucky Derby. History will not be made tomorrow.


This one pains me dearly. Like, to the core. I never thought I’d bet against a horse name Verrazano—the eponymous steed of my hometown bridge—but my mind ruleth over my heart.

Verrazano’s odds have shifted slightly down the ladder, and to be honest, I get it. He’s a beautiful colt with the speed and power to win. But I don’t trust him. There’s boom and there’s bust, and I’m too scared of the latter to bet on the former.

Yes, he’s undefeated in four starts. And yes, that’s impressive. But I want a horse I trust more than this one if I’m throwing down my hard-earned allowance.

There’s a reason a horse this strong has slipped down the board. Some people love him—he definitely fits the title “trendy"—but sharps have faded away. No need to bet against the grain.


I know, I know, I know. I’m “that guy,” the ultimate Debbie Downer. I want, more than anything, to see either Kevin Krigger or Rosie Napravnik break the glass ceiling with a Derby win. 

But I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

Mylute is seeing some late-in-the-game action, moving up from 15-1 to 14-1. But both totals are preposterously high for a horse with his track record. He ranks 15th with 42 points on the season, stats that hardly inspire confidence or justify such frugal odds.

I’m not a believer in higher powers. At least not as far as my gambling money is concerned. It would be a great, great story to see Napravnik win, but on tangible value, this is a very bad bet.


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