Get your mint juleps ready—the 2015 Kentucky Derby is fast approaching.
Last year, we saw the beginning of a remarkable story at Churchill Downs, as California Chrome went on to win the prestigious race and captivate the nation en route to a Triple Crown bid. While his efforts fell short, there's reason to believe several horses in this year's field will be able to replicate that same kind of success.
American Pharoah, the Arkansas Derby winner, and Dortmund, the victor of the Santa Anita Derby, headline the field; however, other strong contenders such as Carpe Diem and Firing Line should make the running of the 141st Derby extremely competitive.
Even though the post-position draw has yet to take place, Vegas oddsmakers have already picked their favorites and assigned odds to the field. Here's a look at the current betting line for each horse and some very early predictions.
Kentucky Derby Odds
|2015 Kentucky Derby Odds|
|American Pharoah||2-1||Bob Baffert|
|Carpe Diem||7-1||Todd Pletcher|
|Mubtaahij||12-1||Mike de Kock|
|Firing Line||16-1||Simon Callaghan|
|Upstart||20-1||Rick Violette Jr.|
|International Star||25-1||Mike Maker|
|El Kabeir||33-1||John Terranova II|
|Far Right||33-1||Ron Moquett|
|Danzig Moon||40-1||Mark Casse|
|Ocho Ocho Ocho||50-1||Jim Cassidy|
|Mr. Z||50-1||D. Wayne Lukas|
All Kentucky Derby odds courtesy of Odds Shark.
Predictions and Analysis
|2015 Kentucky Derby Predictions|
American Pharoah is the favorite heading into this year's Kentucky Derby, and the three-year-old colt has every right to be. Trained by the legendary Bob Baffert, jockeyed by Victor Espinoza (California Chrome) and victorious in the prestigious Arkansas Derby by an impressive eight lengths, this horse has it all.
Pharoah comes with a great pedigree, as his sire Pioneerof the Nile finished second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby. His lineage also includes 2003 Belmont Stakes winner and Derby runner-up Empire Maker and 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled.
This colt has a knack of getting out of the gate early and hanging around the front of the pack for the bulk of the race before swiftly pulling away down the final stretch—a similar technique to the one Espinoza employed atop California Chrome. His athletic gallop is a sight to behold, as he simply appears to glide across the track. Take a look at his triumph in Arkansas:
That's the look of a horse poised to win the Kentucky Derby.
Although, don't expect Pharoah to win by another eight lengths, as Dortmund will prove to be a viable opponent.
The 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner is undefeated through six races, taking down several Kentucky Derby contenders along the way. The offspring of 2008 Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Big Brown, Dortmund is already living up to the lofty expectations of his bloodline.
In the Santa Anita Derby, he stumbled a bit out of the gate but regrouped and stormed out front. He maintained his lead throughout the race and still managed to salvage enough stamina to increase his lead when asked to run down the final stretch, ultimately winning by 4 ¼ lengths. Here's a look at his sparkling run:
The concern here is Dortmund's ability to finish with enough speed to overtake Pharoah in the slightly longer Kentucky Derby. He stopped gaining ground on the field near the finish line in Santa Anita, and that doesn't bode well for his ability to win at Churchill Downs.
Rounding out the top three is Firing Line. This three-year-old colt is slightly underrated due to posting just two career wins; however, his two runner-up finishes between those two victories were both to Dortmund—he finished second in the Los Alamitos Futurity and Robert B. Lewis Stakes.
In the Robert B. Lewis Stakes, Firing Line proved he can keep up with the mighty Dortmund, taking the race down to the wire and losing by a head. Take a look at the two colts battling it out well in front of the pack:
If Firing Line can get into position to make a similar charge down the final stretch at Churchill Downs, he should be able to remain in the mix alongside Pharoah and Dortmund. Unfortunately, the colt still has yet to prove he can overtake the other two competitors, which is why he's projected to finish third.