Kentucky Derby 2013 Contenders: Horses That Won't Live Up to the Hype

Ethan Grant@DowntownEGAnalyst IMay 4, 2013

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 02:  Verrazano trains on the track in preparation for the 2013 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Hype, by definition, is characterized as exaggerated publicity or promotion. 

In the case of the Kentucky Derby, hype determines odds, favorites and ultimately the disappointment from owners, trainers and jockeys alike when only one horse wins and the rest of the field is left to wonder what went wrong. 

Like clockwork, horses that have been hyped as contenders will not live up to that mantle in the 139th running of the Derby. 

After Black Onyx was a late scratch on Friday from post No. 1, the 19-horse field became finalized. Among the favorites this year expected to be going head-to-head down the final furlongs are Orb, Verrazano, Goldencents, Itsmyluckyday and Normandy Invasion—only one horse can capture the 2013 crown. 

As Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated so bluntly puts it, the Derby is just simply hard to predict. 

Two years of training, races and hype have come to the first Saturday in May, so let's take a look at three horses who will not be able to live up to the publicity and promotion they've received so far. 

2013 Kentucky Derby Layout

Post Horse Jockey Trainer
1 SCR (Black Onyx)
SCR SCR
2  Oxbow
Gary Stevens
D. Wayne Lukas
3 Revolutionary  Calvin Borel  Todd Pletcher
4 Golden Soul Robby Albarado  Dallas Stewart 
5 Normandy Invasion
Javier Castellano
Chad Brown
6 Mylute
Rosie Napravnik
Tom Amoss
7 Giant Finish Jose L. Espinoza  Anthony W. Dutrow 
8 Goldencents  Kevin Krigger  Doug O'Neill 
9 Overanalyze  Rafael Bejarano  Todd Pletcher 
10 Palace Malice  Mike Smith  Todd Pletcher 
11 Lines of Battle  Ryan Moore  Aidan O'Brien 
12 Itsmyluckyday  Elvis Trujillo Eddie Plesa Jr. 
13 Falling Sky  Luis Saez  John Terranova II 
14 Verrazano
John R. Velazquez
Todd Pletcher
15 Charming Kitten
Edgar Prado
Todd Pletcher
16 Orb Joel Rosario
Claude R. McGaughey III
17 Will Take Charge Jon Court
D. Wayne Lukas
18 Frac Daddy Victor Lebron  Kenny McPeek
19 Java's War  Julien Leparoux  Kenny McPeek 
20 Vyjack Garrett Gomez
Rudy Rodriguez

Horses Who Won't Live Up to the Hype

Goldencents

Operating out of the No. 8 post, Goldencents has hype not only because it has won three of its last four races, but also because Kevin Krigger is looking to become the first African-American to jockey a winning horse at the Derby since Jimmy Winkfield's two-year run in 1901 and 1902. 

While Goldencents won the Santa Anita Derby in its last running, the post position and layout of the track is going to be very difficult to overcome. 

On the inside of fellow favorites Orb and Verrazano, Krigger will have his work cut out for him. He must establish a nice pace early with noted fast-starters Falling Sky and Revolutionary eager to get out to the turn quickly and keep his horse eager enough to last the full 1 1/4 mile. 

It's a tall task, and one that could pose serious problems without a perfect run. 

One advantage Krigger will have is that he has ridden Goldencents in all of the horse's six races, but the position on the track and outside contenders scare me away from this horse finishing anywhere near the money after the final stretch. 

Oxbow

Oxbow's odds don't make it a horse that you would expect to have much hype around, but the return of Gary Stevens to the saddle after a short retirement certainly does. 

Stevens, the three-time Derby winner (1988, 1995, 1997), got a favorable announcement when Black Onyx was scratched. The scratch moves Oxbow and Stevens to the inside, where he already has won a race (1988's Winning Colors in the No. 1 post). 

Stevens and Oxbow are in the No. 2 slot, but they have a huge threat directly to the right. 

Calvin Borel and Revolutionary are in post No. 3, and one would figure that horse has the edge in the race to the rail. Borel, another three-time winner, loves the inside posts, too, and Revolutionary has better odds to pull off this race win. 

Oxbow and Stevens are a great story, but the hype around his return and an upset from the inside aren't great with Revolutionary, Normandy Invasion and Mylute all lurking on the outside. 

Verrazano

To win this race on Saturday, Verrazano has to break a 130-year-old curse. 

As noted by Edward McClellan of Slate.com, Apollo was the last horse to win the Derby when only training as a three-year-old thoroughbred, a record that has stood the test of time over the years and makes trainers get their horses in a maiden race during the winter, in most cases. 

Verrazano is a perfect 4-for-4 in its career, but that doesn't discount the fact that it was a three-year-old, by definition, when first winning a maiden race. 

While having Todd Pletcher training and John Velazquez jockeying is a huge coup for a potential front-runner win, Verrazano will have to overcome greater odds than its current good standing with those in charge of running bets. 

Becoming the first horse to win after not racing in the winter in 130 years would be a storyline that would exceed most of the others at the track on Saturday. But don't count on history being made with Orb, Itsmyluckday and others in the middle of the field posing a huge threat to the start gate and a late push. 

Then again, it's the Derby—anything can happen. 

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