Kentucky Derby 2015 Contenders: Favorites, Lineup Odds After Post Positions Draw

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2015

Apr 29, 2015; Louisville, KY, USA; Exercise rider Jorge Alvarez works out Kentucky Derby hopeful American Pharoah trained by Bob Baffert at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

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
PostHorseJockeyTrainerMorning-Line Odds
1Ocho Ocho OchoElvis TrujilloJim Cassidy50-1
2Carpe DiemJohn VelazquezTodd Pletcher8-1
3MaterialityJavier CastellanoTodd Pletcher12-1
4TencendurManny FrancoGeorge Weaver30-1
5Danzig MoonJulien LeparouxMark Casse30-1
6MubtaahijChristophe SoumillonMike de Kock20-1
7El KabeirCalvin BorelJohn Terranova II30-1
8DortmundMartin GarciaBob Baffert3-1
9BoloRafael BejaranoCarla Gaines30-1
10Firing LineGary StevensSimon Callaghan12-1
11StanfordFlorent GerouxTodd Pletcher30-1
12International StarMiguel MenaMike Maker20-1
13ItsaknockoutLuis SaezTodd Pletcher30-1
14Keen IceKent DesormeauxDale Romans50-1
15FrostedJoel RosarioKiaran McLaughlin15-1
16War StoryJoe TalamoTom Amoss50-1
17Mr. ZRamon VazquezD. Wayne Lukas50-1
18American PharoahVictor EspinozaBob Baffert5-2
19UpstartJose OrtizRick Violette Jr.15-1
20Far RightMike SmithRon Moquett30-1
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American Pharoah (5-2)

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 29:  American Pharoah is walked to the track during morning training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 29, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

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."

Kenny Mayne @Kenny_Mayne

Just American Pharoah.. https://t.co/hdz7p126GW

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.

Dortmund (3-1)

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 29:  Dortmund gets a bath following morning training for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 29, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

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. 

Pat Forde @YahooForde

Baffert power duo of American Pharoah (post 18) and Dortmund (8) both avoid worst-case posts. Think Dortmund got the better of it.

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)

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 29: Carpe Diem is washed in the barn area during the morning training for the kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 29, 2015 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter 

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