The 147th Kentucky Derby dissected by Geo Sette

April 29, 2021

Nobody dissects a race and does a write up quite like Geo. He is as thorough as they get, and has been known to sweep Breeders’ Cup cards right here at Past the Wire and hit some of these big races ICE COLD! Let’s see his thoughts on this year’s run for the roses:

Geo “attack mode”

After the 2020 pandemic affected the season with the Triple Crown entirely scrambled, first running and shortening the Belmont Stakes, and then running the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby later in the fall, we are back to where the Kentucky Derby belongs. Arguably the most embraced sports tradition, The Run for The Roses will be run this weekend, on the first Saturday in May. 

As I write this column, the weather forecast looks to be an absolute gem of a day with springtime mild temperatures and everyone basking in a day full of sunshine. 

As our country remains in guarded position amid the continued pandemic, we still won’t have the excitement of 160,000 fans in attendance surrounding the famed Twin Spires racetrack, but it will not be as subdued as it was last year.  Of course, there will be tens of millions watching live on television and throughout simulcasting facilities around the country and the world. 

It’s Kentucky Derby Day, somewhat like Christmas to the passionate fans of the Sport of Kings, and even the most casual of fans get pumped up for this very special annual race. Inaugurated back in 1875, its storied history speaks for itself as we get set for the 147th addition. As we have seen numerous times over recent years, a fabulous field of 20 ( nineteen colts and one gelding) will each attempt to place his name in the history books.

This field looks compelling, numerous starters sporting active winning streaks and many could be sitting on their very best race. As always, the thoroughbred industry’s most recognizable faces will be in attendance, many of the world’s best jockeys riding for many widely successful and some legendary trainers. 

As a handicapper, this race always presents a greater, more involved process. The 20-horse field make the post positions an important part of the madness that is past performance reconciliation. There’s added film study to capture not only each horse’s raw ability over the racetrack, but with his behavior and how he responds to pressure or adversity, and his willingness to run well when urged by his rider to do so.  You cannot measure a horse’s heart on paper, you must watch the horse run.   Lastly of course, pedigree will forever be an important factor, the bloodlines carry so much value when it comes to running 10 furlongs early on as a three-year-old. 

So if you’re just as pumped up as I am, I’m hoping you will absorb all I have to say about each horse. Trust me, I put the time in, and I’m well prepared. As my good friend Jon Stettin would say:

 “I’d never bring a knife to a gunfight” 

The Kentucky Derby is big business, everything is escalated, as should your intensity and time you put into your handicapping, and for you I have done just that. 

This year’s installment is loaded with talent, on and off paper it has the look of a very competitive field.  I feel it will be worthwhile to read all I have to say about each horse.  For your convenience I have added a “Win Contender” indicator with horses I feel it’s necessary to do so.  If I suggest to “Toss” the horse, then it’s just me saying you have better avenues to take rather than waste your betting dollars on him. 

The following is my precise order of finish, keep in mind that I am expecting a moderate to fast pace and with the expectation that the horses will get a good trip around the track. There’s always a chance for a bad break from the gate and bumping as horses look for positioning, fingers crossed for a good trip.  Obviously, a good trip will always be a major contributing factor. Are you ready? Let’s Go! 

New Churchill Downs gate

#17 Highly Motivated (ML 10-1)  

After many intense hours digging down deep, I have decided to make this guy my #1 contender and top choice. He checked all the boxes I needed to see. This son of Into Mischief (who also sired last years Kentucky Derby Winner Authentic) was purchased for $240,000. His dam: Strong Incentive by Warriors Reward was lightly raced, and his overall pedigree suggests that he would prefer a middle range distance; however, after his 5 career races, the versatility of his approach and from what I have seen of him on film, I’m feeling he will embrace and make the 10 furlong distance. He’s been training very well for the highly successful Chad Brown barn who has yet to win the Kentucky Derby after six attempts. He saddles his regular rider Javier Castellano who is as good as you will find in a jockey to navigate through a large field. Castellano is still looking for his first Derby win in this his 15th try. This colt is big, strong and rather imposing. During his juvenile campaign he displayed precocious behavior, running in 3 sprints over 3 different surfaces,. He began his career racing over a muddy track at Saratoga, just missed winning his debut by a neck. He won his next race at Belmont Park graduating from his maiden rank  while defeating Known Agenda. He was then ambitiously entered in the Nyquist Stakes at Keeneland and was well supported at the window. He did not disappoint his backers as he went on to a smashing victory from off the pace.  He then took 5 months off and returned for his three-year-old debut in the Gotham Stakes. He was bet down to 4:5 for his first time stretching out to a mile, but he bobbled at the start and then was steadied while vying for position. He was collected by Castellano and showed willingness to run as he finished with some late kick.  A month later in his 2nd start off the layoff, he stepped up into the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes facing the highly regarding and unbeaten Essential Quality. Breaking alertly from the #3 hole, he led every step of the way under moderate fractions, grudgingly losing by a neck, but in defeat proved how versatile and powerful he is. He comes into this race fresh and fit after 2 smart breezes, one of them over this Churchill soil. It’s his 3rd start off his layoff and his 3rd as a three-year-old.  His #17 post actually isn’t bad as he has speed to his inside and enough speed to be tactical to gain solid position, perhaps sit a comfortable 3rd or 4th facing what could turn into a fast pace and then he can make his move and show his best when they are turning for home. If he has a clean trip, he may be sitting on his best race and he avenges his defeat to Essential Quality and bring a long-awaited victory to Javier Castellano and a deserving one to the Chad Brown barn. One last thought, by coincidence, post #17 has never won the Kentucky Derby standing at 0 for 42, so perhaps it’s the right time for it to happen. He’s my # 1 win contender who should also be used in many of your betting exotics 

#10 Midnight Bourbon (ML 20-1)

This simply gorgeous colt was purchased for $525,000 and checks many of my needed boxes for success in this big race. He is one of the most experienced horses in the race with 7 lifetime starts, 4 of which came as a juvenile and all came at a mile. He’s hit the board in all of his starts, winning 2 and he’s improved greatly as a three-year-old. He’s trained by the world class Steven Asmussen barn, who oddly enough has not saddled a Kentucky Derby winner. There’s a significant rider switch to Mike Smith. Smith has immeasurable experience in Grade 1 races, winning this race twice, riding Justify to his Triple Crown in 2018 and thirteen years earlier in 2005 riding Giacomo to his thunderous victory in one of the most thrilling Kentucky Derbys ever.  This colt by Tiznow has the pedigree to run all day. He has fabulous consistent speed, not lightening fast, but fast enough to insure his presence up early to be one of the front runners, that is something that plays into Mike Smith and his #10 hole draw. This guy comes into the race following three graded stakes tries at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana, all with increased distance while facing many starters in this race. He’s working smartly with four quality breezes over the Churchill soil, which I believe have prepared him for what may be his very best race. Additionally, he’s got a race over the track, running 2nd as a juvenile in the Grade 3 Iroquois. This 2nd placing was a very difficult one to make,   but considering he’s likely to get a good trip, coupled with his pedigree capacity to get the distance, I am picturing him doing battle deep into the stretch which could result in a solid placing at a very generous price.  He’s my 2nd choice and an obvious win contender as well. 

#14 Essential Quality (ML 2-1) 

This gray beauty will almost certain be the Kentucky Derby favorite at post time. He’s the ML favorite for good reason. He’s unbeaten in his 5 career starts, two of them were Grade1s as he was the juvenile champion winning his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile going a mile and 1/16th.  This son of Tapit has a miler/middle distance pedigree, so some may question his ability to take the 10 furlongs, but he’s rich in talent which suggests that he can outrun his bloodlines. The ever-confident Luis Saez is back in the saddle for the widely successful Brad Cox barn who is seeking their first Derby win.  This guy proved his championship heart in the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes by gamely overcoming Highly Motivated in his final strides to win by a neck.  He began his career with a convincing win over this Churchill oval which led to his fabulous two-year-old campaign. This guy possesses raw stalking ability which will work in his favor breaking from the #14 hole. I’m expecting him to be forwardly placed early on while facing a potential fast pace, this is likely to put him in great contention as they turn for home. It’s obvious being the race favorite coupled with his unblemished record, he’s a well-deserved win candidate and he should be well respected on many of your exotics tickets. I’m just feeling that my top two  may have more left in the final furlong as they approach the wire, and I am attracted to the added value they offer. This is a very tough sport, could he emerge victorious? Absolutely, and then many will be speaking of him being a Triple Crown threat, but I’m betting against it. He’s a tough horse, we will all witness precisely how tough he is.  If he fires his very best, he’s a win contender for sure. 

#1 Known Agenda (ML 6-1)  

This guy was my top choice when I provided my analysis on the Florida Derby, and I wasn’t disappointed as he rambled on through the field then accelerated with a quick burst to win going away.  Trainer Todd Pletcher is looking to win his 3rd Derby, hopefully following the same path of Always Dreaming who won the Kentucky Derby following his victory in the Florida Derby in 2017, Pletcher also won with Super Saver back in 2010.  This colt is making his Churchill Downs debut but he does have a couple of breezes over the track in preparation for this race. This son of Curlin was purchased for $175,000 and no doubt has the pedigree that suggests he can make the distance, if not even longer.  There’s been much talk about this colt drawing the #1 hole which is the often dreaded position as it’s very challenging for a horse to secure racing position and enough room while breaking from the rail in this field of 20. In fact the # 1 post hasn’t won the Kentucky Derby in 35 years, the last being in 1986 when Ferdinand emerged victorious.  Even so, this is a very talented horse who will be ridden by Irad Ortiz who could be the best rider in training, especially when faced with a journey needed to navigate through horses for the best possible position,  Irad has guts and he’s very aggressive when he needs to split horses to gain position and he’s excellent on turns.  This colt’s body of work winning 3 of his 6 starts and hitting the board 5 times, showing continuous improvement as a three-year-old validates his position as a real threat and contender in this race. The trip for obvious reasons will be essentially important as there’s no doubt he will be coming from off the pace, but with racing luck and another fabulous ride by Irad Ortiz, he could take it all. I’m placing him fourth. As a handicapper we try to be as precise as possible, but there are many variables to consider, and my top 3 choices above may not have the same obstacles to overcome.  I would use this guy in many betting multiples and gimmicks. If the pace is as fast as it could be, he will come flying down the lane. He’s a win contender with his very best but will likely settle for a minor share of the purse. 

#9 Hot Rod Charlie (ML 8-1)

This son of Preakness Stakes winner Oxbow is another hard hitter in this field. He’s another with solid racing experience having raced 5 times as a juvenile and now he’s making his 3rd start as a three-year-old.  There’s a rider switch to Flavien Prat who is strong armed and confident and who knows how to win, but he’s replacing Joel Rosario who is arguably one of the best riders in the country and who’s been on fire lately. While in film study, I was impressed with this colt’s tenacity and his ability to overcome a duel or stumbles/bumps in his overall trip and he does have a 99 Beyer to his credit. His trainer Doug O’Neill is a seasoned conditioner and has won the Kentucky Derby twice before with Nyquist in 2016 and with I’ll Have Another back in 2012 so he is no stranger to the glitz, glamour and stress of the Run for the Roses.  This guy has bumped heads with several horses in this field and was 2nd to Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at an incredible 94-1 odds. In the Grade 3 RB Lewis stakes at Santa Anita he just missed losing to Medina Spirit as he was forced to absorb a tough trip.  After winning the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in rather dynamic fashion defeating my 2nd choice Midnight Bourbon and the hard charging O Besos, he proved that he can embrace the 10 furlong distance (The LA Derby was at a mile and 3/16th’s). He comes into this race making his Churchill debut after working steady over the track at Santa Anita.  I can appreciate this colt’s heart and his overall body of work, and for that he’s a deserving win contender, but the four horses I have listed above just seem more appealing to me. Watch the board on this guy for indication, and he’s worthy to be used on many of your betting gimmicks, he’s got the talent to hit the board with his very best. Expect him to be forwardly placed early on, perhaps a stalking 5th or so, then looking for his best turn of foot as they head towards the top of the stretch. 

#6 O Besos (ML 20-1)

This guy is rather intriguing, as there’s been much talk about his fast closing 3rd to Hot Rod Charlie and Midnight Bourbon in the aforementioned Louisiana Derby.  His sire Orb won the Kentucky Derby in 2013 after circling the field and splashing home to victory in the slop. This guy began his career with 3 sprint races, but that was for developing, growth and conditioning, as his pedigree makes you feel he’ll enjoy the greater distances. He debuted as a two-year-old over this Churchill oval, but it was a rainy, sloppy day and he never did much running. He comes into this race fresh and fit with three steady works over the same Churchill soil.  His rider, Marcelino Pedroza, is up for the 3rd consecutive time for Gregory Foley who has been sporting a winning barn.  This guy will likely settle mid-pack after a clean break from the #6 hole. He’ll definitely need some solid pace in front of him, and with a good trip and some racing luck, he could be flying in the stretch with a clear running lane.  He’s a longshot contender and should be considered especially in your bottom gimmicks like your multiple triples and superfectas. 

#11 Dynamic One (ML 20-1) 

This guy was purchased for a very robust $725,000, his dad Union Rags by Dixie Union won the 2012 Belmont Stakes. He’s already proven to enjoy longer distances, so by default I’m confident that he’ll appreciate the 10 furlongs in front of him. This colt took 4 races to eventually break his maiden, and he’s always been well supported at the windows. In his 5th race, the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, he ran his career best race to date; albeit not a very fast one.He made a big move in the stretch and appeared to be home but was nailed at the wire by the hard charging Burbonic, losing by a head.  He too is making his Churchill debut, and he comes into this race with a pair of solid breezes. He’s one of 4 Todd Pletcher starters and he’ll be ridden by the very talented Jose Ortiz who’s been aboard him for 4 of his 5 lifetime starts.  He drew a favorable post and will most likely sit mid-pack and then start to make his move towards the front runners as they approach the top of the stretch. I have placed him as my 7th choice, as he seems to be sitting on a big race. If everything goes to perfection with the pace of the race and he gets a perfect trip, he does have the ability to shock the world, but for the most part I consider this colt one to use in your bottom gimmicks, if he hits the board you will be rewarded with a loftier price. 

#16 King Fury (ML 20-1)

This rather imposing colt I will call the Kentucky Derby wild card. He’s another son of Curlin, with the bloodlines to run all day. Purchased for an incredible $950,000 as a yearling and trained by Ken McPeek who knows how to win at Churchill Downs.  His rider Brian Hernandez Jr. is back up riding him for the 6th time in his 7th career start.  He’s my wildcard because he raced 5 times as a juvenile, winning twice, but he was far from sensational. He also finished a beaten 7th in a field of 14 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile 10+ lengths behind Essential Quality and Hot Rod Charlie.  He made his three-year-old debut in the Grade 3 Lexington over the sloppy track at Keeneland and won smashingly going away, splashing home to a 2 and ¾ length victory. It was a race where he improved dramatically, running a career best 96 Beyer. He now comes back 3 weeks later after a solid breeze over the track and appears to be very fit.  The question remains, was it the slop he relished in? or has he developed into a monster three-year-old? His purchase price obvious suggests that the owners have big expectations for him, and now they find themselves in the 3 million-dollar Kentucky Derby.  I have him listed 8th, but with his best he could better my rating,  just like some I have listed above. He could mount a powerful close facing a moderate to fast pace. He’ll need racing room, a good trip and a quality ride. If he gets it, he’s got the ability to hit the board so he deserves some consideration with your deeper gimmicks.

#8 Medina Spirit (ML 15-1)

What is this? Are we reading things correctly?  6-time Trainer winner Bob Baffert’s only mount has a morning line of 15-1? Really?  Well yeah, I’m sure he’ll end up getting some action at the windows and he’ll go off at a reduced price at post time.  This guy actually has very impressive numbers during his 5 race career. Hitting the board in the money in all 5 starts, winning two of them with one being the Grade 3 RB Lewis at Santa Anita. His overall Beyer speed ratings have been solid. He comes off of being the odds on favorite at the Santa Anita Derby, but was “Rocked” by Rock This World, never catching up to him and getting 2nd best money.  The book on this colt is that for various races he was chasing the highly regarded Life Is Good around the track and never being able to defeat him. This colt does have his win over Hot Rod Charlie going a mile and 1/16th, but many question his ability to make the mile and ¼ distance here at the Kentucky Derby.  Hall of Fame rider Johnny  Velazquez is back up for Baffert. Even though I have him listed as my 9th most probable winner, he’s deserving of respect and has the ability to better my rating. As such he should be used in your deeper exotics. I had no choice but to list him this deep in my analysis as you simply cannot kiss all the girls, or as in this case, all the boys. This colt should emerge from his break from the 8th hole with the group of front runners, and perhaps be part of the early pace. I just don’t think he’s tough enough to beat this field. I’m not worried at all about Rock This World, I’m worried about all the others I have listed above, especially within my top 4.  I’m really hoping that Bob Baffert doesn’t find a way to win this. If he does then we all must bow down to him

#7 Mandaloun (ML 15-1)

This son of Into Mischief by the dam Brooch (Empire Maker) rounds out my top 10 contenders.  I have him placed 10th as it was extremely difficult for me to look past his latest race, his lackluster 6th finish as the favorite in the Louisiana Derby where he was soundly beaten by Hot Rod Charlie, Midnight Bourbon  and O Besos.  What is perplexing is this guy has a world of talent and he’s always been substantially backed at the windows. In his 5 career races, his highest post time odds were 2-1. He seemed to be peaking into that LA Derby but he went wide, was chasing and completely out of gas coming up empty in the final ¼.  Florent Geroux is back up for Brad Cox and he’s back working very well in his morning drills. With respect to the very successful Cox barn, he’s deserving of a puncher’s chance to get back to his very competitive ways. So, with that said, especially at what will be rather generous odds for the very first time, it may be worth having coverage on this colt.  It’s very puzzling scenario, did he need to use the bathroom and he just didn’t feel like running at the Louisiana Derby? If he didn’t show a poor performance, many would be talking that he’s one of the top 3 or 4 contenders. It simply changed everything. I would suggest take a good look at him during the post parade and watch the board to see if he’s backed well again.

#18 Super Stock (ML 30-1)

This guy represents another entry from the Steven Asmussen barn and will be ridden again by Ricardo Santana Jr. who has ridden him on 3 separate occasions. This son of Dialed In is the most experienced colt in the race with his 8 lifetime starts and he’s been pretty consistent with hitting the board in 6 of them.  As a two-year old he had a very productive season and showed continuous improvement. I’m feeling he’s a natural closer, but he’s shown versatility to be somewhat tactical as well. In his last, he ran his career best race, posting his best Beyer at 92 while single handily knocking major Kentucky Derby contenders Concert Tour & Caddo River out of the big dance.  He had a near perfect trip and he received an excellent ride from Santana, so off of that effort, he has a chance to improve even though he’s been beaten already by 4 of his opponents in this race. If the pace is fast enough, he’ll be one of several horse’s mid-pack that will look to find a clear path to run through and make his best move. I originally had this guy posted as my 8th selection, but after further analysis I decided to move him down to 11th place.  He’s another where I wouldn’t be shocked if he ran his best race to perhaps fill a Superfecta. He does have two nice efforts over this Churchill soil, perhaps a horse for the course, if you will.

#15 Rock Your World (ML 5-1) 

This colt was mighty expensive, purchased at $650,000 with great expectations that success would follow. It certainly has as he has started his career with three straight victories. His first two were on the lawn and then stepping up into the Grade1 Santa Anita Derby where he had a fabulous break, took the lead and never looked back, trouncing the highly regarded Medina Spirit and wiring the field drawing clear by 4+ lengths.  He now also adds the services of strong arms Joel Rosario, but I’m not sure that was the best of moves. Umberto Rispoli had ridden him to victory in 2 of his 3 of his starts, including the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby which thrust the colt into the big dance. In my opinion, one should never make a change like that, especially when considering the fabulous riding talent Rispoli possesses.  Let me be clear, I’m not taking anything away from Rosario, I’m a big fan of him as well, and he’s arguably one of the top 4 jockey’s who are riding in the world right now.  This son of Candy Ride no doubt has high speed, and speed can always be dangerous but considering his travel from the West Coast and all of his workouts were over the same Santa Anita oval, there is much looming as unknown . Will he like Churchill? How will he handle being pressed for the lead? Will he regress from his big number at the SA Derby? I just feel like he’s had it too easy, and he could be better suited running on the weeds as his pedigree suggests.  Yes, his last was a thing of beauty, his first over the soil, but this is a different track and he’s facing 19 others and there will be speed to both sides of him.  Some of you may be surprised at this 12th place grade, but I see him as a potential money burner. Consider this, he never raced as a juvenile, and remember back in 2018 Justify became the first horse since 1882 ( that’s 1882, not 1982) the first in 136 years to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two-year-old. Think about that, the Apollo curse was finally broken, do you think it’s logical that another horse can pull it off again just 3 years later? And make no mistake, let me be clear, this colt is talented, but he’s no Justify.  I have great respect for trainer John Sadler, and offered great congratulations to him for pulling off the Santa Anita Derby upset, but now I can just imagine this horse being eye-balled left and right, and even if he was able to make the lead, he needs to show me that he can last and battle for 10 furlongs.  I’m tossing him. 

#3 Brooklyn Strong (ML 50-1)  

The Derby’s only gelding, and he’s quite a story getting in.  Consider he was purchased for only $5,000, yep there are kitchen sets that cost more. He’s a New York bred with a cool name coming out of the Daniel Velazquez barn that knows how to win.  He’s come a very long way considering he began his career in a maiden claimer racing at Delaware Park. He won his debut and then raced well in state bred company while racing at Belmont Part. In his best race, he won the Grade 2 Remsen in the sloppy going at Aqueduct. Then after laying off for 4 months, he made his three-year-old debut in the Wood Memorial where he had every chance to contend, but he tired and the race was a slow race to boot. Umberto Rispoli gets the mount, deservingly so after he was unceremoniously booted off Rock this World. This guy could bounce back with a better effort, but clearly, he seems up against it. I’m tossing him. That said, Jon and I are both from Sheepshead Bay, and that is in Brooklyn 💪🏻 

#19 Soup and Sandwich (ML 30-1)

The colt presents a speedy option from the #19 hole.  Sired by Into Mischief, he’s been impressive since he began his career showing quality speed in all 3 starts. I loved his chances in the Florida Derby as I had him placed 2nd, and he did not disappoint me, running a strong 2nd to Known Agenda at 12-1 odds.  He earned his start hitting the board in all of his 3 starts, but in his first start going 2 turns, the field was reduced to only 3, and he easily won that race as the odds-on favorite. He’s a beautiful gray colt, and I’m confident he’ll go on to have a promising career, but he also seems up against it in this spot. I’m expecting him to flash early speed, even from the #19 hole, and even perhaps contending for the lead in the first ¼ mile, but thereafter I’m expecting he’ll get many challenges and is likely to tire.  His connections are fine, one of two starters from the Mark Casse barn and there’s a rider switch to Tyler Gaffalione who is aggressive and talented.  Unfortunately, as much as I admire his beauty and respect the connections, I’m tossing him in this spot.   PS: A Fun fact about this post # 19, the only time in Derby history #19 was a winner ( 2012 with I’ll have Another) 

#5 Sainthood (ML 50-1)

This guy is another who comes into the Derby lightly raced and did not run as a juvenile. He’s had only 3 starts over 3 separate surfaces and while hitting the board each time, his Beyers and overall race times are inferior to many in this field.  This colt of course is one of the 4 starters Todd Pletcher has in the field, and there’s a rider switch to Corey Lanerie who is very familiar with the oval at Churchill Downs. He has two decent works coming into this race, and he drew the most desired post position with the # 5 hole, but I cannot endorse a horse to win over these conditions and circumstances after only breaking his maiden by a nose in rather pedestrian time.  Tossing him 

#12 Helium (ML50-1)

In 16th place I’m offering this guy who is one of the few un-beatens in the race, impressive for sure while winning his first two as a juvenile in Canada over the synthetic surface. After taking 6 months off, he came back running to win the Tampa Bay Derby at 15-1. He now faces a 2 month layoff which is not very desirable for the Kentucky Derby.  This colt is another nice horse, who has shown to have a nose for the wire, but even after a few nice works over the track, his task to contend here is rather daunting. He’s likely to be well back early, and then offer one big run if he finds a clear path. Even with a solid trip, his numbers say he won’t win his 4th straight and he’s likely to finish out of the money. Tossing him.

#13 Hidden Stash (ML 50-1)

This son of Constitution comes into the race with ample experience, which is always a plus when facing a field of 19 opponents.  He’s been a competitive sort who has hit the board bringing home a check in 5 of his 7 starts.  Rafael Bejarano returns as the pilot saddle by Victoria Oliver who seeks to become the first female trainer to win the Kentucky Derby. I simply adore a great, inspirational story, but it’s not happening with this horse, he’s simply too inferior on paper when compare to many others in the field. During my film study, I did not see the type of heart with this horse I need to see to make him worthy of a wager. Tossing him 

#4 Keep Me in Mind (ML 50-1) 

This guy looms to be a real longshot, I have much respect for the Roberto Diodoro barn, and this colt comes into the race with an impressive bullet work over this Churchill oval (46.1 breezing).  His blinkers are coming off, so now we’ll be able to see his face which is likely to be well behind early, and then hoping to mount a close into what will be a rapid pace. Oddly enough this guy was a solid juvenile and his on track performances have regressed as a three year old,  even his very best probably wouldn’t be enough to beat this field.  Tossing him. 

#20 Bourbonic (ML 30-1)

This guy I have ranked 19th in this field of 20, and he draws the 20 post. He comes off pulling a rather miracle upset in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, closing from last to first and catching The Dynamic One with his final stride at 72-1 odds, an effort that even surprised his trainer Todd Pletcher.  I give tons of credit to his rider Kendrick Carmouche for his effort in brining this colt home.  Unfortunately, that could have been his best race and I’m not sure he’ll be able to improve much vs this very competitive and rather speedy Kentucky Derby field.  I wouldn’t play him with your money. Tossing him. 

#2 Like the King (ML 50-1)  

This colt is actually very powerful looking, and was purchased for $170,000, sired by Belmont Stakes winner Palace Malice out of Curlin so his pedigree for the distance is not being questioned here. Wesley Ward is a fabulous trainer especially when working with Juveniles, and for that his barn is very admired and successful, but this colt simply is in the wrong spot. His victories have come over the Turf and Synthetic surfaces. He has some nice works coming into the race, but I didn’t find much appealing with my film review to suggest he’ll be a contender here,  I have him last, and if he runs well, perhaps he can defeat 5 or 6 other horses. An obvious Toss.  Last, a fun fact to add, the last time the # 2 hole won the Kentucky Derby was in 1978,  43 years ago, the great Affirmed who went on to win Racing’s Triple Crown. 

Well there you have it,  I’m hoping you will find my analysis as a useful guide, and I want to thank you in advance for your readership support and any comments you may want to share. 

For a deep dive live interactive Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby webinar / seminar including the supporting late stakes both days, click HERE for more info and to reserve a spot while we have a few left. If you miss it live audio and video replays will follow. We’ll cover pace, speed figures, trips, strategies and the all important ticket structure. Last year the key single was Digital Age in the Turf at 8-1. We come prepared!

It’s going to be a fabulous race day, a sensational full card. Enjoy! Let’s make some money! Let’s Go! 


Contributing Authors

Geo Sette

Geo serves multiple roles at Past the Wire. He is a columnist, handicapper, and analyst. Geo has been fascinated with the Sport of Kings since...

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