2011 Kentucky Derby
Churchill Downs, Race #11, Louisville, Kentucky
1 1/4 miles, Flat Dirt Oval
Saturday, May 7, 2011, Post time 6:15 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
An already wide open field for the Kentucky Derby became even more so with Friday’s announcement that second betting choice Uncle Mo had scratched because of lingering effects of a stomach infection. To top it off, light rain is expected though the track is predicted to be Wet and Fast. Florida Derby winner Dialed In the favorite almost by default. Dialed In is trained by Nick Zito and ridden by Julien Leparoux. He opened as a 4/1 favorite on the morning line. For a complete list of the field, click here.
There are plenty of other contenders and long shots to bet on if you don’t like playing the chalk. What I will do here is give you some horses that I think can win place or show. One of the benefits of such a large field is you have a large betting pool for such a popular event. That means that even if the favorites come in, you stand a good chance of making a profit. Since 1990, the average exacta payout has been 926 dollars for a 2 dollar wager. The trifecta is even bigger at $14, 686 for a 2 dollar wager. Even the win, place and show odds have paid out around 15 or 16 for $2. Now, you have to understand that those payouts are available, but with such a large field post position is vital. For example, this year Archarcharch was the 4th betting choice but drew the dreaded #1 position. His odds were adjusted from 8-1 to 10-1 just because of that. Last year Looking at Lucky was the favorite but drew the number 1 position. He was squeezed into the rail and never seriously contended because he didn’t have room to run. Also, long shots can ruin your ticket and handicapping plans. In 2009, 80-1 long shot Mine that Bird won the race. Few if any handicappers had him, which is why he was 80-1. I will throw in a couple of long shot picks just because the field is so wide open.
Dialed In drew a good position at number 8. His trainer, Nick Zito loves this horse, but I have heard from some handicappers that he is a little overrated. Experience could be a problem as he only has 4 races. He does have 3 wins and a second in those races.
Midnight Interlude (10/1 morning line) is trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Victor Espinoza. He also only has 4 races under belt but won the Santa Anita Derby. Baffert loves his draw at #15 as he will have room to run on the outside.
Mucho Macho Man (12/1 morning line) is trained by Katherine Ritvo and ridden by Rajiv Maragh. Though Mucho was a June foal and is much smaller than the other horses, he has been in 8 races in his career. He has never finished lower than 4th in any race, and has 2 career wins. He came in 3rd at the Louisiana Derby behind Pants on Fire and Nehro.
Twice the Appeal (20/1 morning line) is trained by Jeff Bonde and ridden by Calvin Borel. He has 7 career races and has won 3 of his last 4 including the Grade 3 Sunland Derby last time out. His jockey Borel has won 3 of the last 4 Kentucky Derbies. He won’t be bothered by the inside #3 post position as Borel loves the rail. Twice the Appeal is my pick to win the race.
Pants on Fire (20/1 morning line) is trained by Kelly Breen and ridden by Anna Napravnik. No female jockey has ever won the Derby but that could change this year. Pants won the Louisiana Derby last month. Pants has 7 career races and only finished out of the money twice. A disastrous sixth place finish in the risen star prompted the jockey change from Joe Bravo to Napravnik. Pants on Fire is a dangerous wild card and might be worth a wager.
Animal Kingdom (30/1 morning line) is trained by Graham Motion and ridden by John Velazquez, a late replacement for the injured Robby Alborado. Velazquez was supposed to ride Uncle Mo before he was scratched. He has never ridden Animal Kingdom but it shouldn’t matter to a veteran jockey like Velazquez. Animal Kingdom is light on experience with only 4 races but he does have 2 wins and 2 seconds. He won the Grade 3 Spiral Stakes in his last race at the end of March.
Other possible contenders are Nehro (6/1), Archarcharch (10/1), Shackleford (12/1), Soldat (12/1) Stay Thirsty (20/1), Master of Hounds (30/1), and Santiva (30/1).
This should be one of the most exciting Derbies in recent years. I personally can’t wait as the Kentucky Derby is one of my favorite sporting events of the year with all the tradition. I hope you enjoy it as well.