With the defection of presumptive favorite, the 145th Kentucky Derby becomes a more interesting race to handicap. With a field of 20 horses going postward and an abundance of betting options on the menu, the first Saturday in May is a prime opportunity to make significant money with a small investment.
Three Low-Odds Horses that Figure to Contend
Bob Baffert’s trio of contenders all figure to garner attention from the wagering public. Game Winner is the cream of Baffert’s crop. The 2-year old juvenile champion, Game Winner lost the Rebel by a nose to Omaha Beach and then ran second to stablemate Roadster in the Santa Anita Derby. With his place already guaranteed in the Derby, Game Winner was not all out in the SA Derby by any means. The bullet work at Santa Anita on April 20 is encouraging.
Tacitus is a horse that is in peak form and should be fresh for the race. Bill Mott’s horse has just four lifetime starts and has faced solid company. The group coming out of the New York preps seems to be strong. Tacitus was the best of that bunch with a nice victory in the Wood.
Maximum Security is a love ‘em or hate ‘em kind of horse. Unbeaten and under the care of one of America’s hottest trainers Jason Servis, Maximum Security has taken an unconventional route to Churchill Downs in terms of prior races and workouts. The horse is a need to lead type who figures to benefit the most from the Omaha Beach scratch.
Low-Odds Horse to Avoid
Roadster is a talented horse, and no doubt can contend. However, the fact that Mike Smith elected to jump off and onto the now-scratched Omaha Beach as well as the wide post make Roadster a horse to pass on as there will be limited value there.
Three Longshots that Figure to Contend
Win Win Win can hardly be considered a longshot but won’t exactly be a favorite. A few reasons to like the Mike Trombetta-trained horse: he’s proven that the more ground the better, he’s a deep late closer who will benefit from all the chaos a Derby brings up front. The Heft Stakes at Laurel could strangely evolve into a key race on the Triple Crown trail as Alwaysmining was extremely dominant in the Federico Tesio and bet Win Win Win that day. Lastly, although it was not by design, the horse did look impressive in his April 28 work on the Churchill strip.
Despite his awkward running style, Vekoma figures to contend. Although he hasn’t had a ton of success in the Derby, Javier Castellano still has to be respected. Plus, if the track comes up wet or sloppy, Vekoma’s 469 wet number is the best in the field.
Country House is the epitome of a late closer. Flavien Prat rides for the first time. The Bill Mott trainee will benefit from a pace meltdown and figures to be coming late, bred to run at classic distances.
Win Candidates: Game Winner and Maximum Security
3 horse exacta box to play: Game Winner, Maximum Security, and Win Win Win
Live Longshot play: Win Win Win
Throw out horses (from win, place, show, exacta or trifecta wagering): Gray Magician, Plus Que Parfait, Master Fencer, Spinoff, Bodexpress.