The draws for the 2015 Kentucky Derby are in. Some, including the ownership of second favorite Dortmund, are downright giddy. Others, like pre-draw favorite American Pharoah, will have their work cut out making good on their promise on Saturday.
As always, the draw was telecast the Wednesday before the race, giving trainers and jockeys a chance to carve out their strategies.
American Pharoah will come off in the No. 18 post, where no horse has won since Gato Del Sol in 1982. Dortmund will be in far better shape than Pharoah at No. 8, where the likes of Mine That Bird and Barbaro have risen to prominence.
Where are all the other favorites lining up? Here is a complete breakdown of the 20-horse field, including a look at where the morning line odds stand at the moment.
|Kentucky Derby Post Positions|
|1||Ocho Ocho Ocho||Elvis Trujillo||Jim Cassidy||50-1|
|2||Carpe Diem||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||8-1|
|3||Materiality||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||12-1|
|4||Tencendur||Manny Franco||George Weaver||30-1|
|5||Danzig Moon||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse||30-1|
|6||Mubtaahij||Christophe Soumillon||Mike de Kock||20-1|
|7||El Kabeir||Calvin Borel||John Terranova II||30-1|
|8||Dortmund||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||3-1|
|9||Bolo||Rafael Bejarano||Carla Gaines||30-1|
|10||Firing Line||Gary Stevens||Simon Callaghan||12-1|
|11||Stanford||Florent Geroux||Todd Pletcher||30-1|
|12||International Star||Miguel Mena||Mike Maker||20-1|
|13||Itsaknockout||Luis Saez||Todd Pletcher||30-1|
|14||Keen Ice||Kent Desormeaux||Dale Romans||50-1|
|15||Frosted||Joel Rosario||Kiaran McLaughlin||15-1|
|16||War Story||Joe Talamo||Tom Amoss||50-1|
|17||Mr. Z||Ramon Vazquez||D. Wayne Lukas||50-1|
|18||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||Bob Baffert||5-2|
|19||Upstart||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||15-1|
|20||Far Right||Mike Smith||Ron Moquett||30-1|
Kentucky Derby Favorites
American Pharoah (5-2)
The prohibitive favorite coming into the week, Pharoah remains such even after landing the 18 post. Even with a number of high-profile horses in this field—even one also bearing the Bob Baffert moniker—some view Pharoah as a near-lock for a Kentucky Derby triumph.
"I have been doing this for 35 years and he might be the best horse I've ever seen," said private clocker and bloodstock agent Gary Young, per Dick Jerardi of Philly.com. "He's simply like Michael Jordan and stays in the air like he did in his rookie year. He stays in the air longer than any horse, and you get the feeling that there's not one gear left, but he may have two, three or four gears."
Pharoah comes into Saturday's race having won four straight, all in impressive fashion. His eight-length triumph earlier this month at the Arkansas Derby was a thing of beauty. Taking on a field featuring a number of Kentucky Derby entrants, American Pharoah left them all in the dust.
One could easily argue that he's a more impressive overall horse than California Chrome, about whom there was a ton of hoopla last year. There really aren't any flaws with this horse. It's all a question of whether Victor Espinoza can get him off the blocks quick enough to put him in an advantageous situation.
Given Espinoza's track record, odds are we'll be looking at back-to-back favorites taking home the first leg.
The owners of Dortmund have to feel they've drawn something of a short straw. In most years, a horse with Dortmund's resume would be a prohibitive favorite. The colt is undefeated coming into Churchill Downs, boasting triumphs in the Santa Anita Derby, San Felipe Stakes and Robert B. Lewis Stakes all this year.
Featuring Baffert in his stable and coming from a Big Brown pedigree, he's everything you'd want from a Derby contender. Dortmund will also be coming out of the No. 8 post, one far more advantageous to winning than Pharoah's No. 18.
Yet...not even Baffert seems especially sold on him overcoming the monolith upfront.
"He is not UK," Baffert told Jennie Rees of USA Today when asked to compare the undefeated Dortmund to Kentucky. "You're getting carried away. He might be Arizona, but he's not UK. American Pharoah might be my UK; we'll find out. The talent is there. You just have to see it race by race."
Calling a horse Arizona, a fine program in its own right, is far from an insult. But it's telling that Baffert was far more willing to throw the weight of expectation behind Pharoah than Dortmund.
It's crazy to say this, but a 3-1 second favorite has somehow become an underdog in his stable. We should all be interested to see how that plays out.
Carpe Diem (8-1)
Given a good look at the inside post, Carpe Diem might have a chance to...seize the day on Saturday. While all the attention has been given to the two horses in Baffert's stable, fellow legend Todd Pletcher has a rising star of his own.
Carpe Diem has won four of his five career races and enters with triumphs at the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes on his resume. He also turned in a promising second-place spell at the Breeders' Cup Juvenile event, falling just behind Texas Red. Pletcher also seemed pleased with his young horse after his pre-race workouts.
"There is very little I would change about the work," Pletcher said, per Alicia Wincze Hughes of the Lexington Herald Leader. "He was very settled. It was a very good, progressive breeze, and he picked it up each eighth. He galloped out good, very happy with everything."
Carpe Diem is one of four Pletcher-trained horses in the field and will line up next to another dark-horse contender in Materiality. Odds are whichever one of those two gets off the block and makes the inside move first will be Pletcher's best chance to win his second Kentucky Derby.
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