Horse racing is a year round sport that attracts both fans and bettors to the tracks; however once a year this sport captures almost everyone’s attention with the running of the fabled Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
To help get you ready for this year's “Run for the Roses”, I will take a closer look at five horses that I see as being in the best sports picks to win the Kentucky Derby based on betting odds as provided by Bovada.
American Pharoah- 9/4
This three-year old colt has captured the attention of the horse racing world since he was a juvenile by winning the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Sept. 27. He went on to make his debut as a three-year old in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 14 of this year. He won that race by 6 ¼ lengths while posting a Beyer Speed Figure of 100.
Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinosa, American Pharoah sealed his place as the early Kentucky Derby favorite with a victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn on April 11 and is likely to open as the favorite for Saturday’s race once the gate assignments and the morning line are announced later this week.
This is another three-year old that is trained by Baffert and his jockey is Marin Garcia. He earned his spot as the second-favorite on the list heading into Kentucky Derby week with a number of impressive victories as well both as a juvenile and during the recent prep race schedule over the past few months. His biggest win as a two-year old came in late December in the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos Race Course.
Dortmund made his debut as a three-year old with a victory in the Grade 3 Robert Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 7 with a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 and a month later he then went on to win the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at the same track. What made this horse a top contender for the Kentucky Derby was his dominant win in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby on April 4 to pull-off the trifecta at this park.
Carpe Diem- 7/1
While much of the hype heading into this year’s Kentucky Derby has revolved around the top two horses on this list, this third-favorite definitely bears watching as we get closer to post time this Saturday afternoon. Carpe Diem is trained by Todd Pletcher and he expected to be ridden by John Velazquez for the Kentucky Derby. Over the course of his racing career, he has crossed the finish line first in four of the five races he has run.
As a juvenile, he placed first in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity as Keeneland in early October. He went on to win the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in early March as a three-year old and heading into this race, Cape Diem also has a victory in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland earlier this month to round-out this impressive resume.
If you are looking for a Kentucky Derby contender with longer odds to work into the betting mix with the favorites, then take a closer look at Frosted as we get closer to post time. Coming off a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream, in which he appeared to be the sure-fired winner at the quarter pole, he rallied with a huge victory in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 4.
Frosted is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin and ridden by jockey Joel Rosario. He posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 in that victory in the Wood Memorial.
You have to down the list a bit to find this Kentucky Derby contender as the eighth-favorite on the board, but he brings some solid credentials into this race as both a juvenile and a three-year old. Trained by Mike Maker and ridden by Miguel Mena, he started his racing career as a juvenile with a victory in the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 5.
He posted his first major victory as a three-year old with a win in the Grade 3 LeComte Stakes in mid-January at Fair Grounds and followed that up with a win in late February in the Grade 2 Risen Star which was also run at Fair Grounds. What I really like about this horse was his solid first-place run in this year’s Grade 2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds in which he became the first horse to win four Kentucky Derby scoring races. To me, this Fair Grounds trifecta adds some great value to his current betting odds.