2013 Kentucky Derby Picks and Futures Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 4/16/2013
We are inside of three weeks remaining until the greatest two minutes in sports — the Kentucky Derby. There is plenty of time for endless analysis and handicapping before the horses enter the starting gate. As a starting point, though, here’s a look at some 2013 Kentucky Derby picks and futures odds. I’ve picked Overanalyze as the best bet right now, though I am certain that will change many times by post time. (All futures odds are from Bovada)
He’s undefeated in four starts and impressive. His case took a bit of a hit, though, with his final prep outing in the Wood Memorial. Verrazano took the lead around the final corner and held on over a late-charging Normandy Invasion, but it was far from a dominating performance. With his inexperience, the performance isn’t completely damning. However, it is far from ideal. This price seems a touch low, but on talent alone he’s worthy of plenty of attention. The biggest thing going for this horse in my eyes is that jockey John Velazquez could have chosen to ride him or Florida Derby winner Orb, and he stuck with this guy.
Joel Rosario opted to ride Speak Logistics instead of Orb in the Fountain of Youth. Orb won under Velazquez then won again in the Florida Derby. Rosario was given a second shot at the mount for the Derby, and he jumped on it. You can’t blame him — this is an impressive horse. He’s a closer, so he will need a whole lot of luck in the Derby. He overcame a pace scenario that just didn’t suit him in the Florida Derby, though, so he is far from a one-trick pony. He’s improving rapidly.
There are a couple of reasons this horse, the Santa Anita Derby winner, will get plenty of attention. First, colorful trainer Doug O’Neill got plenty of press last year when he trained I’ll Have Another to Derby and Preakness wins. Second, reigning National Champion coach Rick Pitino is a part owner. He ran his best race in the Santa Anita Derby and is improving. I am very skeptical of the horses he beat in that last race and doubt his ability to handle the Derby distance, though, so I am not enthusiastic about him at this price. There are also concerns about his jockey. Kevin Krigger is a very talented rider who is hot right now. He’s making his Derby debut, though, and will be just the second black jockey since 1921 to run in the Derby. He’ll get a ton of attention as a result. Riding in this race the first time is hard enough when you are anonymous, so this will be tough.
Like Verrazano, this horse is part of what will be a loaded group in the race for trainer Todd Pletcher. He was solid in winning the Arkansas Derby. I don’t like what has happened since with his jockeys, though. Javier Castellano had the mount, but he jumped off him in favor or Normandy Invasion — a horse that has not won a stakes race. Odd move. I also don’t like that Pletcher chose a very strange path for this horse — keeping him in New York instead of Florida over the winter. That seems like something you wouldn’t do with a horse you think is truly elite. He’s going to get far too much attention because Castellano has been replaced by Kentucky Derby savant Todd Pletcher. He won the race with these same connections aboard Super Saver. He’s having a lousy year, though, and I just don’t trust him. If Revolutionary wins, it will be costly to me.
Normandy Invasion (8/1)
Castellano’s move suggests this horse is for real. His finish in the Wood Memorial was impressive, and he’ll get plenty of attention as a result. He’s going to be a big bandwagon horse leading up to the race. While I see where that is coming from, I haven’t seen him do anything of real note outside of Aqueduct, and Churchill is a far different prospect. At 12/1 or higher I’d be intrigued. Now I’ll just include him in my exotics — at least.
Of the four Pletcher horses, this is the one I think I like best of all. He’s not the most consistent horse, but his win in the Arkansas Derby last time out was very impressive. He is rounding into form. The three weeks rest before the Derby is shorter than has become the norm recently, but Pletcher’s four best Derby results have all come off the same rest. I like Rafael Bejarano, and I like the horse. He’s not packed with value at this price, but he’s attractive. At this point if I had to pick one horse to bet on this would be it.
You have to have a longshot for the Derby, and at this point this is it for me. I’ll admit that the biggest reason is that I am a serious sentimentalist. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas is an all-time legend who is shooting for one last shot at glory many years after his Triple Crown prime. Jockey Gary Stevens is in the midst of an unlikely but fairly successful comeback after knee problems ended his career far too early. He’s one of the greatest Triple Crown jockeys of all time, and he’s very hungry. The horse has consistently run into troubles with his trips, so we haven’t really seen how good he is. He is visually stunning, though, so I’m willing to bet that if he could get his trip he could make some noise.
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