We are less than three weeks away from the start of the Triple Crown horse racing season that kicks things off with the running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 2. This annual “Run for the Roses” features 20 of the top three-year old thoroughbred in the country.
The field for horse racing’s top event of the season is starting to take shape through a number of graded stakes races as part of the Kentucky Derby Trail. The following is a recap of the final two major prep races as well as an updated look at BetOnline’s futures odds to win the 2015 Kentucky Derby.
The Grade 1 $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park gave bettors one final look at Kentucky Derby favorite American Pharoah before heading to Churchill Downs. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinosa, the three-year old colt did not disappoint with a relatively easy eight-length victory to claim his third-straight stakes race victory this year. His Beyer Speed Figure in this race was 105.
He first caught everyone’s attention as a two-year old by coming in first in the Front Runner Stakes at Santa Anita Park in late September and in his first start as a three-year old he cruised to an easy victory in the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn in mid-March. Last Saturday’s win should cement American Pharoah’s standing as the clear odds-on favorite to win this year’s Kentucky Derby.
The other big stakes race this past weekend was the Grade 3 $250,000 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. While this race did not attract the level of talent that ran at Oaklawn, it was still a competitive field of hopefuls looking for a win that might open the door to a spot in the Kentucky Derby field or possibly another Triple Crown race a bit further down the road.
Divining Rod took full advantage of the opportunity by winning this race by a comfortable margin over Donworth and Fame And Power. Trained by Arnaud Delacour and ridden by Julien Leparoux, he posted a Beyer Speed Figure of 98 in this win.
It is no big surprise that the name at the top of that list is American Pharoah at +275. He has already shown himself to be the class of this year’s field of three-year olds and it is also safe to say that he will open as the Kentucky Derby’s morning line favorite when the betting odds are first released a few days before the race.
Second on the list at +425 betting odds is another Baffert-trained horse, Dortmund. This three-year old has posted three-straight stakes race victories at Santa Anita starting with the Grade 3 Robert Lewis Stakes on Feb. 7. He followed this up by winning the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes in early March, but Dortmund’s biggest victory to date was a first-place finish in the Grade 1 $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 4.
The third-favorite to win this year’s Kentucky Derby is Carpe Diem at +625. He secured his place as a top contender with a victory in the Grade 1 $1 million Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 4. He is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez. This win followed an impressive victory in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby in early March.
The betting odds drop off from there with both Materiality and Mubtaahij listed at +950 followed by Frosted at +1200. Both Upstart and Firing Line are next on the list at +1400.