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Updated on 5/3

All of a sudden Kentucky Derby time has rolled around and you haven’t been paying attention. For shame, especially when we’ve made it easy for you with our Derby Prep Alert!

Paying attention to the prep season is certainly one of the better ways to feel prepared for the Derby, but because we like you, we want you to feel ready for the big day (but subscribe to the Derby Prep Alert for next year, ok?).

Here’s a thumbnail sketch of this year’s field by post position including the morning line odds.

1. Black Onyx (50-1) SCRATCHED – The Spiral Stakes winner hasn’t started since March but appears to be going in the right direction, winning his last two races. He’s also made a favorable appearance training at Churchill, but this is a big jump in class in a year where many of the higher profile contenders have already faced each other.

2. Oxbow (30-1) – His last race was a bit of a disaster when an experiment in running styles didn’t work out as planned. With the lesson learned, un-retired Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens plans to let this headstrong guy do his thing early. This might be tougher than usual given his post position but going to the lead appears to give him his best shot.

3. Revolutionary (10-1) – 3rd Place – This Todd Pletcher trainee has one of the field’s strongest stamina pedigrees. In addition to making a great appearance at Churchill, he’s displayed the willingness to fight for a win and the ability to maneuver in traffic, something that will come in very handy.

4. Golden Soul (50-1) – 2nd Place – This last-minute addition to the field broke his maiden with an impressive 7-length domination and then turned in a couple of disappointing efforts. Last out he made up a lot of ground for forth place and could improve his chances by sitting closer to the pace.

5. Normandy Invasion (12-1) – 4th Place – His bandwagon is mighty crowded for a horse that has yet win a race since breaking his maiden in November. It’s not surprising, given that you’d be hard-pressed to find anything but raves about his appearances in the morning at Churchill. He displayed an impressive late kick last out, almost catching Verrazano in the Wood Memorial, but his pedigree is not a slam-dunk for the distance.

6. Mylute (15-1) – This son of a champion sprinter seems to have inherited his father’s ability to rally from off the pace, as he displayed when he almost ran down Revolutionary last out. His overall pedigree is a mixed bag, but he’s reunited with jockey Rosie Napravnik, who was aboard for his last win.

7. Giant Finish (50-1) – This last minute addition is a total wild card. Last out he finished several lengths behind Black Onyx in the Spiral Stakes in March. By all accounts it looks like he’ll need to live up to his name to make some noise here.

8. Goldencents (5-1) – Last year’s winning trainer, Doug O’Neill, is hoping to make it two in a row with this West Coast shipper. Like last year’s winner I’ll Have Another, he comes in off a solid Santa Anita Derby win. Unlike last year’s winner, his pedigree will not be of much help in the final furlong, but he has made a positive impression since arriving at Churchill.

9. Overanalyze (15-1) – Perhaps the most inconsistent of the five Todd Pletcher starters, but he made a nice move foward winning the Arkansas Derby last out. Despite an iffy distance pedigree, he’s trained well at Churchill and appears to be improving at the right time.

10. Palace Malice (20-1) – Many a wise guy likes this Todd Pletcher starter who’s been making a solid appearance at Churchill. His seventh in the Louisiana Derby was a product of traffic trouble, and he validated his good form next out when he came back to almost hold off Java’s War in the Blue Grass Stakes.

11. Lines of Battle (30-1) – This year’s international mystery horse and winner of the UAE Derby in Dubai makes his second start of the year in the Kentucky Derby. He certainly has a fancy pedigree, but for the most part he remains a mystery as he only arrived at Churchill mid-week.

12. Itsmyluckyday (15-1) – He’s earned a spot in the heart of speed handicappers by running back to back triple-digit speed figures early in the year, but when the rubber met the road in the Florida Derby last out, he could not go with Orb. Did he need to get the clunker out of the way? He trained in Florida but has garnered “oohs” and “aahs” since arriving at Churchill.

13. Falling Sky (50-1) – This potential pacesetter has faded in the stretch to finish between 5 and 7 lengths behind the winners in his last two prep races. By all accounts he’s doing well at Churchill and has put in solid endurance workouts, but he’ll have to step up his game.

14. Verrazano (4-1) – Widely considered the best of trainer Todd Pletcher’s five starters. This handsome, well-built Derby darling certainly looks the part and answered a few questions in his final prep race–namely, that he doesn’t need to lead to win and that he could repel the bid of oncoming horses, although many were hoping for a flashier win.

15. Charming Kitten (20-1) – Owned and bred by Ken Ramsey, the man determined to win the Kentucky Derby with his prize turf stallion Kitten’s Joy. He’s run well in his last three starts but will be making his first start on dirt on Saturday. Despite not garnering a lot of backstretch buzz he could be this year’s freaky come-from-behind trifecta- or superfecta-filler, given his distance pedigree and decent late kick.

16. Orb (7-2) – WINNER – Between his beloved trainer Shug McGaughey, the determination of his last win and his impressive appearance in the morning, you’ll have a hard time getting a good price if you like him. Factor in his classic pedigree and there is certainly a lot to like. The knock? He doesn’t have an explosive late kick and appears to prefer to run wide, which may not serve him well in a 20-horse field.

17. Will Take Charge (20-1) – Last out he sprung an upset over his stablemate Oxbow at 28-1 in the Rebel Stakes, but that was seven weeks ago. He’s put in some longer endurance works, no doubt to compensate for not racing beyond a 1 1/16th miles. He has shown the ability to navigate in traffic, which will come in handy, and with his gorgeous big white blaze he should be easy to spot!

18. Frac Daddy (50-1) – His two best performances, including his only win (in maiden company), have come over the Churchill Downs track, and he’s been training up a storm in the mornings. His stakes efforts this year have not been notable, but his home-field advantage might be enough to at least consider putting him in your exactas, trifectas and superfectas.

19. Java’s War (15-1) – Winner of the Blue Grass Stakes seemed to have all the makings of this year’s buzz horse until his final work at Churchill. He has arguably the best distance pedigree in the field and a solid late kick but so far has only won over turf and synthetic surfaces. Despite finishing an OK second to Verrazano on dirt in Tampa two races back, he struggled to keep up with stablemate Frac Daddy in his final workout. Was it a fluke or indicator of his upcoming Derby performance?

20. Vyjack (15-1) – It’s hard to know if his lackluster response in the final stages of the Wood Memorial is definitive proof that he won’t produce a great effort at the Derby distance or if it was a constellation of factors, including a slow pace and what turned out to be a lung infection. Nonetheless, he’s not a slam-dunk for the distance, but if he shows the fighting spirit of his other prep races, he might be a nice addition to your exotic wagers.

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Last 5 posts by Dana Byerly
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4 Replies

What if it’s a sloppy track? :-)

Rob said on 02 May 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink


I’ll make some updates if it still looks like rain on Friday, but Itsmyluckyday & Vyjack have already won in the slop.

Palace Malice and Frac Daddy are the only other two who have already ran in the slop and they both came in an OK second. From a Tomlinson Rating perspective most of the field looks OK with Revolutionary, Orb, Oxbow, Will Take Charge and Falling Sky all with a 400+ rating (which means they should be very well suited for wet surfaces).

Update: I missed that Will Take Charge had also run over a sloppy track in the Southwest and came in 6th, beaten by 8 lengths. Bottom line: you never really know until they run in the slop!

Dana Byerly said on 02 May 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink


Hello.
Is there a web site devoted to horses that have retired or a comprehensive list of race horses as they retire.
Thank You

Patrick M. Phelan said on 08 May 2013 at 6:59 pm | Permalink


Hi Patrick,

Not that I’m aware of, and it’s a shame as that would be a very helpful resource. The higher profile horses are usually covered in the news, particularly as it pertains to their breeding careers.

Dan Illman of the Daily Racing Form keeps a Google Doc spreadsheet of injured horses, which can be helpful if you’re trying to find out about a specific horse, etc:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ak-hpVmgvXrhcE9ERlNXQUVaX3pja1J6dmNmNUFPZEE#gid=0

Dana Byerly said on 08 May 2013 at 7:10 pm | Permalink



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