Twenty horse and jockey combinations will bid to secure the first step towards a coveted Triple Crown at Churchill Downs this weekend in the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby.
The Run for the Roses is one of the most prestigious events on the American horse racing calendar and with a $1.25 million purse up for grabs for the winner over the 10-furlong distance, expect another thrilling spectacle when the action gets underway.
Joe Kristufek of America's Best Racing spoke with Bleacher Report about who he thinks will win the big race:
Another endearing feature of this occasion is its penchant for shocks and storylines. With that in mind, here’s how the entire field is shaping up and an examination of which of the competitors will be in the running for glory in Saturday’s showpiece.
|Kentucky Derby 2015: Post Positions, Odds, Picks|
|1||Ocho Ocho Ocho||Elvis Trujillo||Jim Cassidy||50-1||Top 20|
|2||Carpe Diem||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||9-1||4th|
|3||Materiality||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||14-1||3rd|
|4||Tencendur||Manny Franco||George Weaver||50-1||Top 20|
|5||Danzig Moon||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse||50-1||Top 20|
|6||Mubtaahij||Christophe Soumillion||Mike de Kock||14-1||Top 10|
|7||El Kabeir||Calvin Borel||John Terranova II||33-1||Top 20|
|8||Dortmund||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||13-4||2nd|
|9||Bolo||Rafael Bejarano||Carla Gaines||33-1||Top 10|
|10||Firing Line||Gary Stevens||Simon Callaghan||16-1||Top 10|
|11||Stanford||Florent Geroux||Todd Pletcher||40-1||Top 20|
|12||International Star||Miguel Mena||Mike Maker||20-1||5th|
|13||Itsaknockout||Luis Saez||Todd Pletcher||33-1||Top 20|
|14||Keen Ice||Kent Desormeaux||Dale Romans||50-1||Top 20|
|15||Frosted||Joel Rosario||Kiaran McLaughlin||16-1||Top 10|
|16||War Story||Joe Talamo||Tom Amoss||50-1||Top 20|
|17||Mr. Z||Ramon Vazquez||D. Wayne Lukas||40-1||Top 20|
|18||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||Bob Baffert||11-4||1st|
|19||Upstart||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||22-1||Top 10|
|20||Far Right||Mike Smith||Ron Moquett||33-1||Top 20|
For full listings, check out the Odds Shark website. Odds accurate as of 8:30 a.m. (BST), April 30.
American Pharoah and Dortmund Set for Louisville Showdown
All eyes will be on the Bob Baffert-trained duo of American Pharoah and Dortmund when the action gets underway at Churchill Downs, as they dominate the market ahead of the Derby.
Dortmund currently trails his stablemate in the betting, but there’s certainly a case to be made for him seizing glory before the iconic twin spires. After all, the colt has sampled victory in all six of his races so far and after winning the Santa Anita Derby, there’s clearly foundations in place for this three-year-old to go on and achieve big things.
Horse racing expert Matt Dinerman is expecting a big run from the offspring of 2008 Derby winner Big Brown:
American Pharoah will probably have something to say about that, though. After a dominant display in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, there has been plenty of hype about him, with many already blown away by his speed this season.
Indeed, speaking with Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas had high praise for the favourite. Lukas' Derby entrant, Mr. Z, was well-beaten by American Pharoah in that Arkansas Derby win:
I have not been that impressed with a horse in a long time. We came up to him, and when [jockey] Victor Espinoza just nudged him, he opened up four or five lengths on us. … That just breaks horses' hearts. That impressed the hell out of me.
In terms of conformation, just standing there, he doesn't blow you away. But when he moves, goes full flight, he's got an amazing stride.
The Baffert pairing will seize plenty of the spotlight coming into this one, and it’s tough to see anyone breaching the front two here. But the battle for third place is wide open and in a race that has two overwhelming favourites, there’s definitely some value to be had for those fancying an each-way punt.
Todd Pletcher has two horses—Materiality and Carpe Diem—taking part, and he’ll be desperate to end his poor record in the Derby, sampling just one race win from 40 runners. The former of the pairing is an intriguing option, having clocked the fastest Beyer Speed Figure of any runner this season in winning the Florida Derby, per Forde’s aforementioned piece.
However, he’s been drawn in post 3 for this one, which is typically not a favourable starting spot. Indeed, Jose Contreras of America’s Best Racing thinks both of the Pletcher hopefuls will struggle after difficult draws:
The race everyone will be paying close attention to is at the front, however; between Dortmund and American Pharoah, we’re surely set for a thrilling battle. While there has been plenty of love for the undefeated Santa Anita champion, expect his winning streak to finally end at Churchill Downs this weekend.
Not only is American Pharoah in wonderful form, but with Victor Espinoza in the saddle, he has a two-time Kentucky Derby winner handling him and a jockey who was so impressive aboard 2014 champion California Chrome. Expect his composure to give the favourite the edge in a relatively comfortable victory.