Kentucky Derby 2014. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.)
The annual “Run for the Roses” is right around the corner, and there are many connections vying for the 2-million-dollar prize.
The Kentucky Derby is the most famous race in horse racing. Similar to the Super Bowl, or the World Cup, even people without knowledge in the sport know how big the event is.
Deemed the “fastest 2 minutes in sports” the Kentucky Derby has brought in no less than 100 million dollars in wagers from racetracks in the United States. Last year the derby brought 124.7 million dollars in wagers with the record being in 2015 ($137.9 million).
With so many people putting in their two cents, I thought I’d throw mine in. After studying all the Derby prep races, and doing months of homework, I’ve made my Derby selections. Counting down from 20 all the way to number one:
20th Place: Battle of Midway
I really don’t believe in the west coast this year. I loved Mastery, but since he went down with an injury, I haven’t given western racers much of a chance. Battle of Midway ran a good race in the Santa Anita Derby and might improve, but I think moving up in class will hurt a lot. Not a believer here.
19th Place: Fast and Accurate
Another horse that I think didn’t beat a whole lot in his prep race, the Spiral Stakes. I also don’t think he’ll get the distance, but I love the heart this horse has. He was weary in the stretch of the Spiral and fought on. I want this horse, and jockey Channing Hill, to prove me wrong. Serious doubts.
18th Place: Untrapped
Untrapped regressed badly in his last prep race, the Arkansas Derby. I will say he had some tough competition, but it only gets tougher as he goes longer in the derby. I think he’ll be getting passed easily by mid-stretch. Not a threat.
17th Place: J Boys Echo
To be fair to J Boys Echo, he’s a real enigma for me, and it’s scary for me to put him here. His Gotham Stakes win doesn’t really thrill me considering El Areeb wasn’t at his best and at 100% probably destroys that field. J Boys Echo concerns me, but I just didn’t see enough in the Blue Grass Stakes. Inconsistent.
16th place: Sonneteer
There’s something about this horse that I just like to see. He may go into the gate with the longest odds, but I just can’t bring myself to put him in the bottom few horses. He ran very strong in the stretch and I think he’ll run by some of the competition easily at the end. Just not enough.
15th Place: Tapwrit Super
Inconsistency is the reason I have a problem with this closer. Sometimes you see a monster closing kick, and sometimes there’s just not much there. If he could run the same race he ran in the Tampa Bay Derby, I would say to fear this horse, sadly I don’t see it. Regressed.
14th Place: State of Honor
My early Queen’s Plate choice and fellow Canadian. State of Honor has been consistent he his prep races, but only consistently mediocre, he can’t put a huge race together and I think going longer against more talented horses will only hurt him. Queen’s Plate favourite?
13th Place: Patch
He drew post position 20 but I actually was going to include him in my top six if that didn’t happen. I love Patch. The Louisiana Derby was huge for such a young horse. I just think post position 20 will be the end of the horse before the beginning. Unlucky 20.
12th Place: Gormley
I have no belief in Gormley and I still don’t understand people that disagree. He won a relatively weak Santa Anita Derby, beat American Anthem in the San Felipe who has been super disappointing and he hasn’t won a race when another big name horse is entered. Overrated.
11th Place: Thunder Snow (IRE)
This horse has a ton of heart. This horse also seemed pretty green in the UAE Derby which was really a two-horse race between him and Epicharis (JPN). There’s more talent in the Kentucky Derby, and I think that’ll do Thunder Snow in. Surprise Invader?
10th Place: Girvin
If this horse wins it was seriously staring us all in the face since the Risen Star and we chose not to believe it. I just didn’t see it he his races. It seemed like he benefited from weak fields with consistent efforts. I don’t see a Derby champion, I see a really good horse, but not a great one. Scary.
9th Place: Lookin At Lee
Closed fast. Closed all over the stretch too. I think, with experience, Lookin At Lee will be a very successful horse, but rider Corey Lanerie is going to have an extremely difficult trip if Lookin at Lee is as green as he ran in the Arkansas Derby. Still learning.
8th Place: Practical Joke
Practical Joke was a really nice two-year-old, but I haven’t seen him replicate that form to the same degree. He has the talent but he hasn’t show it enough as of late and that’s why he stays out of my top five. Weak three-year-old season.
7th Place: Irap
Loved his Bluegrass Stakes race, maybe more than I should have, but I’ll accept that. Irap ran like a monster and got my respect with that race. I think he’s peaking at the right time and I’m excited to see him fulfil his potential with a strong run in the Derby. Rising.
6th Place: Hence
I tried to not give in to all the Sunland Derby hype, but I just couldn’t. He looked great and finished so strong. I don’t think he’s going to be as good as the others who've run against better competition all year, but his is a tough finisher. Tough in the stretch.
5th Place: McCraken
We can’t simply ignore the Bluegrass clunker where he finished 3rd, but I believe it was a warm-up for the Derby. I don’t see McCraken in the superfecta, but he’ll definitely be in the mix somewhere. Solid, not super.
4th Place: Irish War Cry
I’m just happy to see Rajiv Maragh ridding a Derby contender coming back from his serious injury. Irish War Cry had a nice bounce back in the Wood Memorial after a terrible Fountain of Youth Stakes. I think the Wood is too close to the Derby for Irish War Cry to come back and win the big one. Not enough rest.
3rd Place: Always Dreaming
The Florida Derby had a lot of the class in this year. Always Dreaming had such a strong performance in his move up in class, I’m not sure what he can and can’t handle. Regardless, a lot of money will be on Always Dreaming on the first Saturday of May. Mystery.
2nd Place: Classic Empire
A juvenile champion with a legit shot at winning the Derby? Say it ain’t so. Classic Empire looked to be his champion self in the Arkansas Derby. This horse has a great shot to be a twoyear-old champ and a Derby winner. Consensus choice.
1st Place: Gunnevera
My choice the win the Derby has been Gunnevera. He needed the Florida Derby and I don’t take anything away from him with the 3rd place effort. Gunnevera has been my top choice since the huge Fountain of Youth and even before it. As long as he stays out of trouble while closing I think this will be our 2017 Kentucky Derby champion. My favourite.