The Kentucky Derby is finally here after a long stretch since the Belmont where Tiz the Law just dusted the competition. As always, the Derby is packed with many horses, 18 to be exact this year. I’ll give a brief write-up on each and some bets I’ll be on, but first let’s chat on the track here at the Derby.
The Derby is always the first race ran towards the triple crown, but this year due to COVID, the order got changed around a bit. Belmont actually went first and ran shorter at 1 1/8 miles or 9 furlongs, as the cool kids say. This Derby Race will be 1 1/4 miles (10 furlongs) as it is usually ran at. The Preakness will be the final race in the triple crown bid for Tiz the Law if he finishes 1st here.
I did a video for the Belmont and actually since last year I’ve had a video for all legs of the Triple Crown. This time you get me in writing form, as I channel my inner Edgar Allen Poe. I wasn’t on Tiz the Law in the Belmont to win, but in my defense, I rarely take the odds on favorite in a given horse race. Boy, was that race an egg on my face though. Tiz the Law didn’t even run a great race and still blasted past everyone in the final stretch. Here though, he will have to come from the 17 spot, but that’s the only thing bringing down his odds. If he was the 1 horse here, Tiz the Law may every well have been like 1-4 here, so instead you get a near 1-1 price on him having to run the second longest race. Honor A.P. and Authentic catch a real bad break here too running from the 16/18 spot respectively, as some of the other main horses coming in with a shot at winning. This could also create a tougher road to the front of the pack for Tiz the Law trying to fend off these two in the middle of them, but if we learned anything from the Belmont this year, it’s that Tiz the Law is plenty content hanging in the middle of the pack until the final stretch before pulling away.
This is a long layoff for this race though as it usually is two weeks between these races and a bit longer in between the Belmont, but here we have had over a month. It’s tough to say if this plays to a true advantage or not for a horse like Tiz the Law, but at minimum he’ll be well rested. Quite a few names from the Belmont are also back in this race to also try to spoil the Triple Crown bid.
There is a saying in the Derby that says “The luckiest horse wins the Derby”. With how big the pack is, there is some truth to this. The best horse won’t always win this race because sometimes things just need to go your way. Tiz the Law coming from the spot he is, sandwiched between two good horses could be a problem early on. Even if so, he may be good enough to overcome it, but when you try to draw up a path to victory for a horse, you have to see who’s around him at the gate. As a jockey, you can have a plan going in, but with so many horses anything could derail that plan. Tiz the Law is by no means a sure thing, but he most certainly should be heavily favored here despite his starting spot. I’ll briefly chat on each horse and provide the bets I’ll be on at the end.
2 – Max Player (15-1)
Max Player is a horse all too familiar with Tiz the Law losing two straight races to him. Now starting as the lead horse with Finnick the Great being scratched, he has the shortest path to victory. He proved in the Belmont that he could not only keep pace but close very fast late. Max Player is a horse you won’t expect to see in the front of this race for long despite the good position. Very comfortable hanging out in the pact before springing on late. With top speed down the stretch, expect Max Player to land in Supers and even be live late to win it.
3 – Enforceable (22-1)
Enforcable has a strong starting position but he figures to be out-classed here. Only one race since March and it wasn’t great finishing 4th in the Blue Grass Stakes. This horse will aim to stay in front of the pack as long as possible, but even turning it up late may not be enough to contend here in this packed field. I’ll pass here.
4 – Storm the Court (22-1)
Storm the Court is a typical Derby horse who needs the pace to stay slow to medium to have a shot. If the pace of this race becomes fast vs the median, Storm the Court stands little to no chance here. He’ll have a brand new jockey for this race in Julien Laproux, so take that as you will in terms of lack of comfort, but it really shouldn’t matter. I don’t expect Storm the Court to be around late.
5 – Major Fed – (28-1)
Major Fed has some closes finishes in recent races, but has a tendency to get off to poor starts. The Derby is certainly not the place to have a bad start. Trainer Greg Foley was referencing a glimmer of hope to get out of the gate cleaner, but I personally cannot look past the opening struggles for this horse. Once or twice an anomaly, but it’s happened too often to assume it won’t keep derailing this horse early in races. I’ll pass on this horse as even if the “bad luck” ends here out of the gate, he’s still have to run near perfect to crack the top 4 late.
7 – Money Moves (15-1)
This is a horse without much wear on the tires. Only three races to date place Money Moves as the lightest raced horse coming in. You always have to respect Todd Pletcher’s horses and this is a horse that could be live late. The big question mark here is the rise in competition Money Moves will see here. He will aim to stay in the middle of the pact throughout and see how much he can turn it on late for a strong finish. This is a bubble horse for me. I don’t love him enough to have him everywhere, but cannot ever hate a Todd Pletcher backed horse in these big races.
8 – South Bend – (33-1)
A late added entry with South Bend to the Derby, but this horse does not grade out well at all vs the field here. He became a late add after Art Collector dropped out of this race. A shame because Art Collector would have also had a legit shot to win here, but nonetheless South Bend is now in the Derby. All things considered, this is a true long-shot to be around late and I’ll pass.
9 – Mr. Big News (43-1)
Another late entry into the Derby with Mr. Big News. This is most certainly not one of the top talented horses here, but the distance is a length Mr. Big News is comfortable with. This is yet another horse that would be tough to think is hanging around late, but if paced right, he could surprise here into the top 5. Not a horse I’m targeting by any means, but of all the big long shots, he’s my favorite.
10 – Thousand Words (9-1)
Thousand Words is the horse of legendary trainer Bob Baffert and comes into the Derby with a win over Honor A.P in the Shared Belief Stakes. Thousand Words is finding his stride at the right time and could ride this momentum in a strong Derby finish.The best odds of any horse in the top 15 and deservedly so. Expect Thousands Words who has a shorter race to run than all the other favorites to pace well and be around late with a shot to suprise.
11 – Necker Island (41-1)
Necker Island was a recently claimed horse who has looked decent in two races since, but certainly nothing eye popping. Elevated field here also doesn’t bode well for Necker Island to land his first win of 2020, but he’s certainly comfortable at this length. Speed is the big question mark though and ultimately why I’ll be off him here.
12 – Sole Volante (22-1)
Sole Volante comes into the Derby off a 6th place finish at Belmont and was breezed by Tiz the Law by nearly 16 lengths. The extra furlong probably plays to Sole Volante’s strength, but this horse’s top speed is a real question mark. Before the Belmont, this horse was riding a lot of momentum. Do you throw away the Belmont as an anomaly or do we adjust this horse from that race alone? I personally, can’t get behind the idea of Sole Volante hanging around late. Even if the track length better suits him, he lost by a wide margin at Belmont and would really need things to fall his way to have a shot here. I’ll be passing on this horse.
13 – Attachment Rate (44-1)
Attachment Rate comes into the Derby off the best race of his career. A 2nd place finish behind Art Collector (who dropped out of the Derby) in the Ellis Park Derby which was a huge improvement time over his other races. The time was pretty good at 9 furlongs there, but staggering time difference from his norm. Always tough for a horse to follow up a career best race with another one, so I’ll be content to pass here also.
14 – Winning Impression (44-1)
Winning Impression is an easy fade for me. If this horse somehow enters superfectas, I’ll just eat the L. Back to back 7th place finishes against inferior horses on identically tracks to the Derby doesn’t project well here. I’ll be passing.
15 – Ny Traffic (16-1)
This is a dangerous horse for Tiz the Law’s triple crown bid. Ny Traffic is quite familiar with fellow horse Authentic as the two were neck and neck in the Haskell Stakes where Ny Traffic lost by a hair. He was gaining on Authentic at the end proving he has more spread and had a worse starting position. Now that coin has flipped. I like this horse to be around late and will certainly have him in Superfactas.
16 – Honor A.P. (8-1)
Honor A.P had an impressive Santa Anita Derby Win, in which was his best run of his career, but followed this up with a semi-dud in the Shared Belief Stakes. The back step could have been expected with the huge performance from Santa Anita. I have my concerns here with how this horse grades out vs the field though. If we get the Santa Anita Derby version of Honor A.P, he’ll certainly be live, but if not, he’s an average at best horse vs this competition taking into his starting position. Add in the not so great odds, and I’m going to take a stand here and pass.
17 – Tiz the Law (6-5)
If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve landed at the coveted favorite. After watching the Derby, a race where Tiz the Law really didn’t run a perfect race by any means and still pulled away from the field easily, I told myself I wouldn’t lose money betting against this horse again. Now, the position here is scary because of how much can go wrong en route to the front of the field, but this horse is so much better than the field. The only reason I bet against him vs Tiz the Law at the Belmont was because I wasn’t sure that a true sprint was in this horse’s wheelhouse. The numbers didn’t pop on him at those distances, but clearly he has another gear when needed. From the beginning, I thought he graded real well at this length of 10 furlongs. You’ll hear from many that Tiz the Law is the biggest favorite is nearly 3 decades for the Derby, but this year is quite different than most. The Derby is not the 1st race and we’ve seen thise horse already against the elite competition. He may not run the best race, he may get derailed and lose, but this is by far the best horse in this race at this length, and I’ll be chalky and back him here.
18 – Authentic (9-1)
This horse is bred as a sprinter and trained by Bob Baffert. Expect Authentic to try to race to the front and keep pace heading into the final stretch. The concern with this horse is the track length. At 10 furlongs, this is a long race for Authentic who may get passed down the stretch. I fear for the stamina as I did with Tap it to Win at the Belmont. Tap it to Win was my pick to win that race but the length of the race was longer than accustomed for Tap it to Win and we have a similar situation here. Regardless, expect this horse near the front of the back for the middle of the race.
As is always the case with the Derby, there are countless horses to choose from and endless possibilities. For me, everything I’m doing has Tiz the Law at the front, but here’s what I’ll be combining with. One thing of note though is to stay disciplined. Have fun with this race, throw some fun money on here, but do realize there are over 15 horses in this race and the sample size is one. Anything can happen and only risk what you’re comfortable losing. With that said, the below is what I’ll personally be risking. May the odds be ever in our favor.
Kentucky Derby Bets
Tiz the Law (17) to win – 1.0 units
Exacta – 17 w/2/10/15 – 0.1 units (3 combinations)
Trifecta 17 w/2/10/15 w/2/10/15 – 0.05 units (6 combinations)
Superfecta – 17 w/2/10/15 w/2/10/15 w/2/10/15/18/9/7 – 0.01 units (24 combinations)
Total risked 1.840 units