Tuesday, April 28, 2015

141st Kentucky Derby Preview

The week of the Kentucky Derby has arrived. A full field of 20 unpredictable three-year-olds look to capture one of the most historical sporting events in history and be talked about for years to come. On the first Saturday in May you need fight, stamina and just a little bit of luck to emerge from the 1 1/4-mile test on top. That luck begins on Wednesday with the post position draw.

Derby Hi-5

8 Dortmund 3-1

This big colt has the looks of a Derby winner and has backed it up on the track to this point in his career. He is undefeated in six starts. Has won on the lead, come from off the pace and had to fight back after losing the lead in the stretch. Improved his BRIS Speed ratings with each start. One of his wins comes over the Churchill Downs track in an allowance race back in November. Baffert doesn't ship a two-year-old across the country without a reason. There is not much to knock about him. As long as he doesn't get stopped in traffic, this son of Big Brown will mimic his dad and be crowned the Kentucky Derby champ. 

2 Carpe Diem 8-1
The way he put away the Breeders' Futurity field at Keeneland last fall was an indication that he might be a star in the making. Closed to get runner-up in the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Cup Juvenile in his next start, while having a wide trip, is his only loss to date. Received triple-digit BRIS Speed and Late Pace ratings in his Blue Grass Stakes win last time out, which is what you want to see heading into the Derby. This sophomore has answered all the questions and will have no problem with the classic distance. Count on him being there at the end to hit the board and possibly coming away wearing the roses. 

15 Frosted 15-1

There were a lot of questions surrounding the gray colt this spring, but he answered them in the Wood Memorial just a few weeks ago. He was on the right path until his debacle in the Fountain of Youth, where he looked like the sure winner until stopping at the top of the stretch. After a minor throat surgery, Kiaran McLaughlin has a three-year-old that could pull off the upset and give him his first Derby victory. Enters with the highest BRIS Speed rating, 107. 

14 Keen Ice 50-1

You either love him or hate him and I'm one of those on the Keen Ice bandwagon. He's not fast, but is a colt that can run all day and has shown to be a powerful closer. I was hooked after watching him break his maiden at Churchill. He was eight lengths off the lead in the stretch that day and had another gear, where he surged to win at the wire by a head. There should be a decent pace on the front that he can close into, it is just a matter of how much ground he leaves himself to make up. A lot would need to go his way to have a chance to shock this field, but it is not out of the question for him to hit the board. 

18 American Pharoah 5-2

Some have called him a freak. He has even been compered to Michael Jordan and Seattle Slew. That is some tough company being thrown his way. Only loss came in his debut, over polytrack, back in August. This is the type of horse that may win by 4-5 lengths or finish off the board. I choose the latter, as he has yet to really be tested and 10 furlongs in a 20-horse field may be a stretch for this colt. He might be the real deal and we find out on Saturday. 

Don't Count Out...

5 Danzig Moon 30-1
If the race was run on pedigree alone, he would take the cake. Didn't break his maiden until February, but did finish second over this track in his second career start back in October. Enters in here off a runner-up finish in the Blue Grass, where he got a 102 BRIS Late Pace figure. Distance won't be an issue and he has a chance to fill out the exotics. 
10 Firing Line 12-1

Never finished worse than second in five career starts. Only got beat by a head in both races against Dortmund. Tough to gauge since he opted for the Sunland Derby instead of staying at Santa Anita. Would have liked to see him take on the son of Big Brown going 1 1/8 miles to have a stronger opinion. The 1 1/4 distance worries me, but he is also one that can't be overlooked.  
*This year's Derby has the potential to be one of those races that you look back on and are impressed with the talent that was in the field. 2007? You could make a case for many of the these three-year-olds entered this year. The draw on Wednesday should help finalize predictions.