LOUISVILLE – From a handicapping and betting perspective, you can choose two different paths in this year’s Kentucky Derby.
The first way to analyze the race would be to frame everything around Zandon and Epicenter as two horses on a different level to the rest of the field, requiring their involvement in all bets. The downside, of course, is that favorites finishing 1-2 would diminish the chances of a major financial score.
The other way to view this Derby is as an every man for himself where 10 or 12 horses could legitimately win the race, opening up the possibility of huge payouts.
If we can pick the right one, we can hopefully turn a $100 racing bankroll into a nice profit.
Let’s start by restricting the thought process by discarding the horses that we don’t want to use at all.
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Number 2 Happy Jack did not show enough ability to participate in this race. To throw.
That task seems too much for the No.4 Summer Is Tomorrow, who caved in the final stretch of the UAE Derby. To throw.
No. 9 Tiz the Bomb showed promise on grass and synthetic surfaces but was absent on dirt in the Holy Bull in February. To throw.
The No. 11 Pioneer of Medina will be a pacemaker but has never really challenged Epicenter in its last two races in Louisiana. To throw.
The n°13 Simplification is a beautiful horse but was largely beaten twice in Florida by White Abarrio. To throw.
The No.14 Barber Road has been very consistent in his career, but he will need very different equipment to compete here that he has yet to show. To throw.
The No. 17 Classic Causeway will be in the lead or not, but its demise in 11th place in the Florida Derby is of great concern. To throw.
It looks like a reach for No. 18 Tawny Port, who entered the Derby by beating a weak field in the Lexington Stakes just a few weeks ago. To throw.
No. 21 Rich Strike entered the field after the late Ethereal Road scratch. His trainer, Eric Reed, says it all: “We go in, hope and pray. » Toss.
That still leaves 11 horses, which is too much to use in our bets. These will be the most difficult cuts.
The No. 5 Smile Happy had no excuse against Zandon or Epicenter in his last two races, finishing a well-beaten second place each time. He just finished. That’s a pretty good indicator that he’s just not good enough.
We’ll also be tossing Messier No. 6, whose monster performance on Feb. 6 in the Bob Lewis Stakes against a mediocre field looks like an outlier. I didn’t like the way he finished the Santa Anita derby.
The No. 16 Cyberknife caught some pretty soft ground in the Arkansas Derby, and his speed numbers aren’t up to par with what this champ is capable of.
No. 19 Zozos has a lot of potential, but getting stuck in that deep outside position could jeopardize his chances if he commits to running up front like he last did in the Louisiana Derby. He’s probably not ready for this mission.
Our final cut is the most controversial: No. 12 Taiba, who is an impressive 2 for 2 and clearly has a ton of talent. But going from his six furlong debut on March 5 to the Kentucky Derby on May 7 seems far too much to overcome. Maybe he wins and is the next big horse racing star, but he’s racing against a ton of history.
This leaves six more manageable horses in play which we can separate into three tiers.
Top tier/most likely to win: Epicenter, White Abarrio, Zandon
Wildcards that could end up anywhere: Crown Pride, Charge It
Unlikely to win but could hit the board: Mo Donegal
With this setup, it’s hard to choose against Epicenter, which showed everything you’d want to see from a Derby contender this winter in Louisiana. So our first ticket, let’s put it on top of a $4 trio with White Abarrio and Zandon second and White Abarrio, Zandon, Crown Pride, Charge It and Mo Donegal in third. It’s a $32 bill.
Let’s also add a $1 trifecta with Epicenter on top and the other five horses in second and third to cover our bases. It’s still $20.
At 10-1 on the morning line, White Abarrio offers more betting value than Zandon and may well be the better horse if he returns to his effort in the Florida Derby. Let’s put $12 to win on him and add a $3 exacta with White Abarrio on the other five horses for another $15.
That leaves us with $21 to play.
Among the longshots of the race, the Japanese horse Crown Pride trained superbly. But there’s no way of knowing until the doors open on Saturday if it’s good enough. Charge It picked up its first win on February 12 and took a big leap into the Florida Derby, where it finished a strong but troubled second behind White Abarrio. Some of those issues were his fault, as he struggled to keep a straight in the stretch but still came within a length of the winner. But if Charge It takes a leap forward, it could absolutely win this race at a huge price.
We will invest $11 to earn on him and add an exact $2 on the other five.
It will deplete our bankroll, but hopefully one of these bets will succeed and turn Derby Day into a profitable business.