Just this week I had the honor of meeting the only living Triple Crown Winner, American Pharaoh. Last year, history was made and he accomplished a feat that hadn’t been achieved in 37 years. Many thought we would never see it be done again. Needless to say, the popular question is will another horse win the Triple Crown this year? Before that can be analyzed, we have to get our next Kentucky Derby winner.
Twenty horses will vie for the title of Kentucky Derby winner on Saturday, but only one will come out on top. No amount of handicapping, analyzing, or film watching can give the answer but plenty of people out there will certainly try. If you want analysis from experts, which I highly suggest, head over to Keeneland Select and take a look at their comprehensive Derby coverage. There you can find picks from Tom Leach, Katie Gensler, Jim Goodman, and Jonathan Fowler-all of which are very seasoned handicappers and have a ton more knowledge. With that being said, here are the horses I think have a shot at the roses.
13 – Nyquist
The morning line favorite for the Derby is undefeated two-year-old champion Nyquist. There are plenty of Nyquist-haters out there but I can’t leave this horse out of my picks. His critics focus on his pedigree, specifically that he wasn’t bred to get this distance. I think that is a weak argument and it’s been disproven in the past. Case and point: California Chrome, he was bred to be a cheap sprinter. Not only did he win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, but he just won the richest race in the world- The Dubai World Cup. Nyquist has won every race he’s ever ran, and he is training beautifully. He drew post 13 which would be considered a bit negative, but he won from the same post in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, so post position won’t be an issue. I think Nyquist is as brilliant as he seems and I expect he will do quite well in the race.
5- Gun Runner
Gun Runner is my underlay horse. I think he has a huge shot to win this race and he isn’t getting near enough consideration which means good things at the betting window. Though Nyquist is the favorite, Gun Runner comes into the Derby with the most points. His only loss was on wet dirt, and it looks to be a fast track so that doesn’t concern me. He put on a great performance in the Risen Star but was incredibly not the favorite in the Louisiana Derby which he won by 4 1/2 lengths. He seems to always be underestimated. His connections are experienced as well, trained by Hall of Fame inductee Steve Asmussen and owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds. This team also races Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Untapable among many others. Gun Runner also drew the 5th post which will set him up perfectly with closers to the inside, he can pull forward on the rail.
14 – Mohaymen
If the Florida Derby would have ended differently, Mohaymen would be the favorite going into this race. This son of leading sire Tapit won four stakes in a row before facing Nyquist and coming in a disappointing fourth. Since that race all the buzz has died down on this colt, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to toss him out. As impressive as an undefeated record is, I also believe that every horse just like most athletes are bound to throw in a “clunker”. It is just a matter of when that is. Even American Pharoah lost twice in his career. With his “clunker” behind him, I think Mohaymen is ready to bounce back and give a big performance.
3 – Creator
Creator got a late start, it took him awhile to break his maiden but he seems to be peaking at the right moment. This colt ran third to his half-brother in the Rebel Stakes but turned around and beat that brother in the Arkansas Derby in impressive fashion. He doesn’t have the experience and the back class that a lot of these contenders have but he is improving and looks ready to run a heck of a race. He is also trained by Hall of Fame inductee Steve Asmussen and he is owned by WinStar Farm who also owns 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver. And he certainly has the pedigree (if you’re into that sort of thing).
One thing is for certain, it is going to be one heck of a race!