2011 Kentucky Derby Preview Part One: The Contenders
2011 Kentucky Derby
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Churchill Downs, Louisville Kentucky
Now that we are less than 3 weeks weeks away from the first Saturday in May, all of the major prep races for the 2011 Kentucky Derby are complete. The 20 horse field is pretty much set. I will discuss the 10 horses who will most likely have the lowest odds once the post position draw and morning line odds come out Wednesday, May 4, 2011. For right now I will use the futures odds from bookmaker. In another article I will discuss the sleepers and longshots.
Dialed In (3/1) Jockey: Julien LeParoux Trainer: Nick Zito
Though Dialed In only has 4 career starts, he does have 3 wins and a place. He won the Florida Derby on April 3 in his last start against a strong field that included Shackleford, To Honor and Serve and Soldat. He came from behind to win all three races in his career. He won the Florida Derby at a mile and an 1/8, and wasn’t laboring as he crossed the finish line. He was 14 lengths back with less than half a mile to go, and won by a nose over long shot Shackleford. We will see how he adjusts to running the Derby at a mile and a 1/4 the longest distance of his career.
Uncle Mo (3/1) Jockey: John Velazquez Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Until April 9, Uncle Mo was the prohibitive favorite to win the Kentucky Derby and possibly even the Triple Crown. He won the first 4 races of his career easily including the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile last fall at Churchill. However some chinks in his armor were exposed in the Wood Memorial where he finished a disappointing third behind Toby’s Corner and Arthur’s Tale. Uncle Mo led most of the race but faded down the stretch as a 1-9 favorite. It was discovered after the race that he had a gastrointestinal infection. He is probable for the Derby but not as invincible as once thought.
The Factor (8/1) Jockey: Martin Garcia Trainer: Bob Baffert
The Factor was one of the favorites for the Derby until a disappointing 7th place finish in the Arkansas Derby. He displaced his palate and is questionable for the Derby. He has 3 career wins in 5 starts and if healthy can challenge for the win.
Nehro (17/2) Jockey: Corey Nakatani Trainer: Steven Asmussen
Nehro, the half-brother of Dialed In, qualified last week for the Derby by finishing second to Archarcharch in the Arkansas Derby by a head. He only has one win in five career starts but did finish second in the Louisiana Derby as well, in March to Pants on Fire. Nehro did beat Mucho Macho Man in that race. Asmussen changed jockeys from Michael Baze to Nakatani after Louisiana.
Soldat (12/1) Jockey: Alan Garcia Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Soldat has never finished lower than 5th in 8 career races. He finished 5th at the Florida behind Dialed Up in his last start. He won the Grade Two Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream in late February beating Gourmet Dinner and To Honor and Serve in that race. He finished a distant second to Uncle Mo in the BC Juvenile last year. Soldat will definitely be a contender if Dialed Up or Uncle Mo falter.
Archarcharch (13/1) Jockey: Jon Court Trainer: William Fires
Archarcharch has 3 wins in 6 career starts including the Arkansas Derby last week. He came in third in the Rebel Stakes behind The Factor and Caleb’s Posse. He has never finished lower than 4th in his career.
Mucho Macho Man (15/1) Jockey: Rajiv Maragh Trainer: Kathy Ritvo
In eight career starts, Mucho Macho Man has never finished lower than 4th in any race, with five of those races being Grade 2 or 3 races. He has 2 career wins. His biggest win is in the Grade Two Risen Star Stakes at Fairgrounds in Louisiana in mid February. He came in 4th to Dialed In in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. He came in second to To Honor and Serve twice in a row at Aqueduct in January. The bottom line is he has only beaten one Derby Contender, Santiva in a race and has never competed in a grade One stakes race.
Toby’s Corner (16/1) Jockey: Eddie Castro Trainer: H. Graham Motion
Toby’s Corner has 4 wins in six career starts, none bigger than his upset of Uncle Mo in the Wood Memorial earlier this month. He has never finished lower than 3rd in any race. Some say his win over Uncle Mo was a fluke and only happened because Uncle Mo was sick. In the Grade III Gotham Stakes in early March he came in third and was beaten badly by Stay Thirsty in his only other race against Derby level competition.
Midnight Interlude (20/1) Jockey: Victor Espinoza Trainer: Bob Baffert
Midnight Interlude has only 4 career starts and 3 of those are maiden stakes races. He has 2 career wins including the Grade One Santa Anita Derby April 9th. He beat Comma to the Top and Mr. Commons in that race. He has never raced on any track but Santa Anita, so experience could be a problem.
JP’s Gusto (25/1) Jockey: Joe Talamo Trainer: Joe Petalino
JP’s Gusto has the most experience of any of the Derby contenders with 11 races. He has four wins in his career but none in the last 6 races. He was beaten badly in his last two races coming in 8th at the Arkansas and 7th in the Rebel. I think he is a little overrated and you can find better value on horses such as Pants on Fire, Comma To The Top or Brilliant Speed.
So those are the top contenders according to bookmaker. I will discuss some sleepers and long shots in my next article.