Ky Derby 142 Preview, Contenders And American Pharoah Tribute Video



I have been doing Ky Derby previews for quite a few years now. My first big Derby win was in 1994 with Go For Gin. I know it doesn’t really fall under the category of Cardinal Athletics but it’s the one time of the year all local sports fans come together and celebrate Louisville as a city. Oh, and we all try to win money. That is why I do this every year. I try to give you as much information as I can so when you place your bet, it’s a well thought out, educated bet and not just betting on a name or color. I want everybody to win money. I won’t tell you who or how to bet and I won’t tell you who is going to win because nobody really knows. If someone tells you they know somebody who knows somebody who said their horse is going to win, don’t believe them. Yes, there are signs that a horse is ready for a big race and signs that are cause for concern but nothing is certain. It’s called gambling for a reason. Be smart with your money. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose. Don’t bet 10 horses in hopes of getting to cash 1 ticket on the winner. Usually I would say to look for value when you place your wager but the Ky Derby has the best payouts and odds of any race so bet who you think will win. Especially this year where the race is wide open. There is no heavy favorite so the winners payout should be nice even if the favorite wins. We could see a $20 winner. Don’t be afraid of the exotic bets but learn what and how to bet them before jumping in. Do your research. It could pay off handsomely.

Here are the contenders in no particular order,

Nyquist – He is the 2 year old champion. I actually bet on him in Ky Derby future wager pool #1 and I got him at 9-1 odds. I will not wager on him anymore because I have concerns about him getting the Ky Derby distance of a mile and a quarter (10 furlongs). His breeding indicates to me that there may be limitations on how far he can run. That being said, He is undefeated with 7 wins in 7 races and just beat undefeated Mohaymen in the Florida Derby. He will likely be your Ky Derby favorite and I would guess his morning line odds will be 3-1. With my concerns about him getting the distance, I still believe he is good enough to finish top 3 if he doesn’t win so I will use him in my exotic bets.

Career: 7 Starts 7-0-0-0
Sire: Uncle Mo
Jockey: Mario Gutierrez       Trainer: D. O’Neill
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 101

Mohaymen – He was undefeated and looking like a possible Ky Derby favorite until he came in a disappointing 4th in the Florida Derby. He is still a great horse, he just had a bad day. If you liked him before the Fl Derby, this 4th place finish will definitely help his Ky Derby odds as long as you didn’t lose confidence in his ability. He is a major player and might be a great value. You might see 5-1 on him. I feel he will bounce back off this poor outing and be there to have a say in the outcome of the race. If the people agree with me you will see him bet down. Watch his odds throughout the day to see if they drop. If so, he will likely be ready to run a big race.

Career: 6 Starts 5-0-0-1
Sire: Tapit
  Jockey: Junior Alvarado      Trainer: K. Mclaughlin
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95

Danzing Candy – This was the “Hot horse.” People were starting to take notice of how he kept improving. Then he ran in the Santa Anita Derby and finished 4th behind Exaggerator and Mor Spirit. I wasn’t totally sold on this horse before the SA Derby because in his San Felipe victory where he beat Mor Spirit and Exaggerator, he went straight to the lead on a day where the track played a bias in favor of the front-runners. That won’t happen in a 20 horse Ky Derby field. I need to see more to be a believer. While he is a good horse he may be over bet. I’ll guess around 6-1. I won’t use him in my exotics. I’ll take my chances and make him beat me.

Career: 5 Starts 3-0-0-1
Sire: Twirling Candy
 Jockey: Mike Smith    Trainer:C. Sise
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100

Gun Runner – This horse is one I really like but I feel he needs to improve just a bit more to win the Ky Derby. I went back and watched his last 2 races again. He won the Risen Star in a decent fashion. Nothing special, but in his next race, The  Louisiana Derby, he looked much better in victory. His improvement was impressive. He does own a victory over the Churchill Downs track and his only loss was a 4th place finish at Churchill as well. So he knows the track. I believe he improves from his last race and finishes in the top 5 of the Ky Derby. Will he be wearing the roses? He very well could be and at a price of about 8-1

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-0-1
Sire: Candy Ride
  Jockey: Florent Geroux    Trainer: S. Asmussen
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91

Mor Spirit – He is a Bob Baffert horse and I am a huge Baffert fan. Therefore I like this horse. You will see him come running late down the long stretch at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. The faster the early pace, the faster he will be coming in the end. After his 2nd place finish in the Santa Anita Derby, I felt he was improving but Baffert said he was disappointed with his performance and saw no “turn of foot” when the real running started and essentially just plodded along passing tired rivals in the lane. I don’t know if he can maneuver through 20 horses to get the victory but with improvement he could get in the superfecta. I would say his morning line odds will be about 12-1.

Career: 7 Starts 3-4-0-0
Sire: Eskendreya
  Jockey: Gary Stevens     Trainer: B.Baffert
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 97

Destin – Won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 12th and will not race again until the Ky Derby. While the 2 months off bothers me, it might just be the perfect recipe. Trainer Todd Pletcher knows more than I do but I prefer my Derby horses to be the perfect combination of fit and fresh. He might need the rest since he set a track and stakes record in winning the TB Derby. He s a full brother to Creative Cause who was a horse I really loved, so I know the distance won’t be an issue. This horse keeps improving and is gaining momentum. He has a shot with more improvement. I’ll guess 12-1.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-1
Sire: Giant’sCausway 
  Jockey: Javier Castellano    Trainer:T. Pletcher
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100

Cupid – This horse had my attention. In winning the Rebel Stakes he lugged in at the top of the stretch. He lost his momentum in trying to switch leads (Horses typically run around turns on their left lead and the straightaways on their right lead.) but regained his stride and responded when a foe came to challenge him. He dug in and drew off. He also looked great galloping out past the wire. His breeding is great so distance is not an issue. He has shown he doesn’t need to be on the lead to win but likes to be near the front and the added derby distance may be to his liking. He then ran in the Arkansas Derby and did nothing in finishing 10th. I’m  not 100% sure Baffert will run him in the Derby after that effort. This was my value play, now I’m not so sure. He will probably be 15-1 but should be around 8-1.

Career: 5 Starts 2-1-0-1
Sire: Tapit
Jockey: Martin Garcia    Trainer: B.Baffert
Best Beyer Speed Figure:  95

Mo Tom Here is another horse who I will definitely use in my exotics. He has had the worst racing luck I have ever seen. He always seems to find trouble. You would think with a 20 horse derby field that he is certain to find trouble again but I believe as the field turns for home he will start flying by horses. I don’t think he can get to the winners circle but could very well finish top 4 and help your superfecta at 25-1.

Career: 6 Starts 2-0-3-1
Sire: Uncle Mo
Jockey:Corey Lanerie    Trainer: T. Amoss
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88

Exaggerator – I really like this horse a few months ago but had not progressed to my liking so I parted ways with him after a 3rd place finish in the San Felipe behind Danzing Candy and Mor Spirit. But then he ran in the Santa Anita Derby and turned the tables on those 2 winning by 6 1\2 lengths. I personally feel it was just because it was a wet track at Santa Anita. This horse has talent and is capable but I won’t bet him unless its raining on Ky Derby day. 20-1

Career: 8 Starts 4-2-0-1 
Sire: Curlin
  Jockey: Kent Desormeaux    Trainer: J. Desormeaux
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103

Brody’s Cause- I bet on him in the Breeders Cup Juvenile where he finished 3rd behind Nyquist. Since then he finished 7th in the Tampa Bay Derby. Most counted him out but he just made a statement by winning the Blue Grass Stakes. He kept grinding and grinding to get the victory. I feel he worked way to hard to get the win. His jockey whipped him repeatedly to urge him to the lead. While he did respond, I usually shy away from horses who have to work that hard the race before the Ky Derby. Probably about 20-1.

Career: 6 Starts 3-0-1-0
Sire: Giant’s Causway
Jockey: Luis Saez    Trainer: D. Romans
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91

 Lani – Winner of the UAE Derby in Dubai. Horses coming from Dubai have not fared well in the Ky Derby. This horse is trying to change that. He is already at Churchill to get accustomed to the track and conditions. On Derby day, he will have been at Churchill for 5 weeks. His breeding is great for the distance and his race in Dubai was the longest any of these horses has run (1 3\16). That being said, it looked to me that in the UAE Derby he was the only horse that could run that far so he won by attrition. Not a great field. How will he stack up against the US horses? He will likely get odds of 20-1 because of the foreign money but should be closer to 45-1.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-0-1
Sire: Tapit
  Jockey: Y. Take    Trainer: M. Matsunaga
Best Beyer Speed Figure: NA

Tom’s  Ready – I am not sure what he is ready for for but I know it’s not a triple crown. He ran 2nd to Gun Runner in the Louisiana Derby. I’ll pass on this Pennsylvania bred at 50-1.

Career: 9 Starts 1-4-0-1
Sire: More Than Ready
  Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.     Trainer:D. Stewart
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 89

Shagaf – People really liked this horse but I don’t see much here. He is talented but broke poorly and finished 5th in the Wood Memorial. Was it because of a muddy track? Not sure but I think I’ve seen all I need to see. 50-1

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-0-0
Sire: Bernardini
Jockey: Irad Ortiz    Trainer: C. Brown
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 88 

Outwork – winner of the Wood Memorial showed me a lot of heart, digging in for the win. He is another horse out of the great Uncle Mo. Distance will no be an issue with this one. He finished 2nd to Destin in the Tampa Bay Derby before winning the Wood. He looked really good and is one I will be watching on Derby week to see how he is training at Churchill. Could be a great value play. The track at Aqueduct was muddy when he won the Wood so he is another one to use in your exotics if we end up with a wet\muddy track on Ky Derby day. 25-1

Career: 4 Starts 3-1-0-0
Sire: Uncle Mo
Jockey: John Velazquez     Trainer: T. Pletcher
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93

Creator –  It took him 6 tries to break his maiden (get his first win). He finished 3rd behind Cupid and Whitmore in the Rebel Stakes but turned the table on them when he won the Arkansas Derby. If there is a fast pace in the Ky Derby, you should see him flying down the stretch and possibly making his way into the trifecta. If it’s a slow pace you might not hear his name called at all. 20-1

Career: 8 Starts 2-4-1-0
Sire: Tapit
  Jockey: R. Santanna jr.    Trainer: S. Assmussen
Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96

Other horses that might make the field are: Fellowship, Whitmore, Oscar Nominated, Majesto, Trojan Nation, My Man Sam, Suddenbreakingnews and Adventist.

The best 3 year old (in my opinion) won’t race in the Ky Derby or the Ky Oaks. Undefeated champion two-year-old filly of 2015, Songbird, developed a low grade fever after running in the Santa Anita Oaks and has not been able to get out on the track. Her owners had committed to the Oaks instead of the Derby but I feel she could have won either race.

In the past 20 years, 70% of the Kentucky Derby winners raced in one of these three final Derby prep races.

The Santa Anita Derby (6)

The Florida Derby (4)

Arkansas Derby (4).

The other Derby Prep races to produce Kentucky Derby winners in the past 20 years: Louisiana Derby (2), Wood Memorial (2), Blue Grass Stakes (1) and the Lexington Stakes (1)

                                                 Best of Luck to you! Win lot’s of money.




I put together this tribute video about 9 months ago. The fact that it has been watched in over 65 countries tells me that everyone loves a champion and that horse racing is alive and well. We may never see another horse like him and I enjoyed following his career.  The U of L connection to this is the fact that Rick Pitino is in this video.

Please enjoy this video…..

A special thanks to Ted Tarquinio  at for most of the pictures used in this video.

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