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Kentucky Derby Contenders 2015: Triple Crown Odds and Picks for Top Favorites

Mark Buckingham@@MABuckinghamFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2015

FILE - In this April 28, 2015 file photo, trainer Bob Baffert watches horses workout at Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Ky. Before Baffert won the Kentucky Derby for the first time, he lost.  Seize the moment is Baffert's mantra. Don't think about those glorious wins by Silver Charm in '97, Real Quiet in '98 and War Emblem in '02. And for sure, don't even mention the losses. Three of them with favorites, one by a nose, and another with the horse he calls the best he's ever trained. Of course, that tune could change by Saturday night. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

The Triple Crown seems to be ever more elusive to win, but could 2015 be the year when a horse writes his name into racing history?

Not since Affirmed in 1978 has the Triple Crown of winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes over a five-week period been done. Plenty have been close, with nine horses since 1997 winning the first two legs before being unable to follow up in the Belmont.

Only last year, California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness before finishing fourth behind Tonalist in the Belmont. This year, American Pharoah will be leading the cast of horses bidding to emulate Affirmed, who was a racing star as you can see in the video below:

Here, we take a look at the odds and leading contenders for the 2015 Triple Crown:

2015 Triple Crown Odds
HorseTrainerOdds
American PharoahBob Baffert10-1
DortmundBob Baffert20-1
Carpe DiemTodd Pletcher33-1
MubtaahijMike de Kock50-1
MaterialityTodd Pletcher66-1
Oddschecker

Odds accurate as of 2 p.m. (BST) on May 1 

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American Pharoah

Bob Baffert knows what it’s like to try to win the Triple Crown and then just fall short. All three of his previous Kentucky Derby winners followed up in the Preakness Stakes but then didn’t pass the post first in New York. Silver Charm in 1997 and Real Quiet a year later were both second in the Belmont Stakes, while War Emblem in 2002 finished eighth in the last leg.

Danny Johnston/Associated Press

With American Pharoah, Baffert has a leading chance of the Triple Crown, certainly according to fellow trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who said, per Eric Mitchell of BloodHorse.com: “If you stop and look at a couple of noses and nods, he’s come the closest to the Triple Crown as anyone in 20 years. I think it could be his year.”

Victor Espinoza will be riding American Pharoah in the Kentucky Derby. Espinoza was War Emblem’s jockey and was also on board California Chrome 12 months ago. A wide-margin winner of the Arkansas Derby on his last start, American Pharoah has the natural talent to win the Triple Crown.

Dortmund

Baffert isn’t targeting just one horse at the Triple Crown, though, as he also trains the unbeaten Dortmund. A Grade 1 winner as a juvenile, Dortmund won the Santa Anita Derby last time out. He will have the assistance of Martin Garcia in the saddle and is 6-of-6 so far. You can hear about his chances in the video below:

A post of eight for the Kentucky Derby is ideal, and while Dortmund has not been as visually impressive as his stablemate, he has yet to taste defeat and physically looks like a horse capable of handling the arduous demands of winning three top-class races in little over a month.

Carpe Diem

Todd Pletcher will certainly be hoping his horse can seize the day when he lines up for the Kentucky Derby on the back of four wins from five career starts. Carpe Diem was an emphatic Grade 1 winner on only his second start as a juvenile before finishing second to Texas Red in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Garry Jones/Associated Press

He is 2-of-2 as a three-year-old and beat several fellow Kentucky Derby runners when winning the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland last time. He should appreciate the trip of the Kentucky Derby and, with Giant’s Causeway as his sire, doesn’t lack for toughness in his pedigree.

Mubtaahij

There was nothing in Mubtaahij’s two runs in Britain at Newmarket last season to suggest he would eventually become a Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown contender.

But a winter in Dubai has seen Mubtaahij flourish, and he won four of five races for South African trainer Mike de Kock. He was mightily impressive in winning the UAE Derby by eight lengths on his last start, and he should handle the surface at Churchill Downs. But the likes of American Pharoah and Dortmund are much better horses than he has faced in his career so far.

Materiality

A second Triple Crown candidate from the Pletcher stable, Materiality only made his racecourse debut in January. But he has now won all three starts and landed the Florida Derby on his most recent run. He beat the smart Upstart that day and is worth his place in the Kentucky Derby field.

With progress still expected, his run in the Kentucky Derby will give an indication of Materiality’s true level of ability.

It’s no wonder the Triple Crown has not been won since 1978 given the demands placed on the contenders, especially as horses can run in the Belmont Stakes without taking part in the previous two legs.

Where American Pharoah ranks alongside Baffert’s previous Triple Crown candidates will be much clearer after the Kentucky Derby. But a win in Churchill Downs on Saturday for American Pharoah will lead to dreams of Baffert finally creating history.

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