The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby is ready to take place Saturday back on its usual slot, the first Saturday of May. Twenty horses are in the field and though one horse stands out, that doesn’t mean that is who will win. Here is a look at horses that offer value.
By now, even those that watch and bet one horse race a year, the Kentucky Derby, they are familiar with Essential Quality, who opened with 2-1 odds and will break from post 14. He’s attempting to become just the third reigning 2-year-old champion in over four decades to win the Derby.
The second choice is right next to Essential Quality in the 15th post, Rock Your World. At 5-1 horse racing odds, Rock Your World is one of three unbeaten (Essential Quality and Helium the others). RYW won the Santa Anita Derby in early April and that was its first try on dirt this year after winning twice on grass.
These are two horses that deserve a look, but the point of this article is to look for others that could surprise or be used for horse racing picks in straight wagers or exotics. Here is a look at those with a more compelling betting story.
Could Win or Finish in the Money
#1 Known Agenda (6-1 Odds)
There was not a known agenda about this horse until the trainer Todd Pletcher put blinkers on this horse and magically it changed everything. Known Agenda blasted the field by 11 lengths at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 26th. That performance was validated by winning the Florida Derby handily. Probably not a winning candidate since the last on the rail starter to post a victory was Ferdinand in 1986. However, a surging horse with a top trainer and rider Irad Ortiz Jr., who was aboard for both wins. Strong exacta or trifecta candidate.
#9 Hot Rod Charlie (9-1 Odds)
Hot Rod Charlie is going to attract a fair amount of attention and its odds would seem to fall at Churchill Downs and sportsbooks around the world. At last fall’s Breeder’s Cup, HRC ran a strong second to Essential Quality in the BC Juvenile. This year in January, finished a good third at San Anita and followed that up by taking the Louisiana Derby. Hot Rod Charlie has only finished out of the money once in its last five races and enters with the second-best last race Beyer Speed Rating of 99.
#17 Highly Motivated (10-1 Odds)
In the BlueGrass at Keeneland four weeks ago, pressed the favorite Essential Quality down the stretch before losing by a neck. The added length should not be an issue for Highly Motivated, as he’s shown more than enough speed and versatility in other starts and has closed well. We note that trainer Chad Brown had other horses in his stable that could have run and choosing Highly Motivated speaks to what he thinks this horse is capable of. One of five horses in the field with three straight Beyer’s of 90 or higher.
#8 Medina Spirit (15-1 Odds)
Medina Spirit doesn’t seem like a winner here, but trifecta and superfecta should probably include No. 8. This horse is known for firing, getting off to good starts, and staying in the mix with three 2nds and a couple of trips to the winner’s circle in five outings since December. This is trainer Bob Baffert’s lone entry and his horse is just behind those with elite speed. If jockey John Velazquez can save a little early, his ride is a gritty performer and with an above-average effort with speed leftover, just maybe.
#11 Dynamic One (20-1 Odds)
Dynamic One was second at the Wood Memorial and posted its second-best speed rating in five starts. Having Pletcher as the trainer is a plus and this horse has shown no signs of tiring late. DO has two wins and a second in the last four starts and with an experienced jockey like Jose Ortiz and off a sharp workout on Apr. 23, there are possibilities.
#16 King Fury (20-1 Odds)
King Fury took a giant leap forward in blasting the field at the G3 Lexington at Keeneland on April 10. The speed rating of 96 was an attention grabber. KF is a son of 2-time Horse of the Year Curlin and top-class sprinter Taris, so the pedigree is in place. The short window of time between races is an obvious concern, but this horse stacks up decently with the top players here; has the necessary tactical speed and versatility to give his rider, Brian Hernandez Jr. options.