2014 Kentucky Derby Live Long Shots
by Trevor Whenham - 4/29/2014
In a normal year I always am on the lookout for some value from a long shot or two to spice up my Kentucky Derby betting. This is far from a normal year. There is only one horse being viewed as a superstar this year, and I am far from convinced of the wisdom of jumping on the California Chrome bandwagon . On the other hand, there are whole lot of horses that leave us with plenty of questions but which seem capable of being a factor if they run their best race.
The best handicapping tool this year is a dart board. That means that long shots are going to be more important than usual because they could be the only horses that have prices that justify the risk of betting on them. In a race full of long shots, here are five that stand out:
Ride On Curlin (+2400): This horse has a crazy backstory. He was the first yearling purchase for his owner and his trainer. That trainer, nicknamed "Bronco," starts well under one horse per week on average - he's a virtual part-timer. It's something out of a Disney movie, but it has worked so far. The horse doesn't have a stakes win, but he has been worse than third just once in his nine-race career. He's a son of the great Curlin, so the distance shouldn't be a real concern. He has been fairly versatile in his running style. Though he likes to run near the lead, he doesn't need to be at the front like other horses do. That should help him here, as it could let him pick up the pieces if the pace blows up the front-runners. He also has Calvin Borel on board. He's riding poorly lately, but he has repeatedly found magic in this race.
Wildcat Red (+2500): When I watch the races live the biggest thing I am on the lookout for is a horse that gets passed late in a race but doesn't give up. Horses that get passed typically fade, but if they are a fighter then I make a note and bet them next time out. There are some issues with this horse, but he is unquestionably a fighter. In the Florida Derby last time out it looked like Constitution was going to blow past him in the stretch after this horse had led the way up to that point. This horse has ridiculous amounts of heart, though. He didn't win, but he made much more of a contest of it against a very good horse than anyone would have imagined. In a race this wide-open, heart and determination could be enough to find the money here.
Candy Boy (+2500): California Chrome is the heavy favorite in the Derby. Hoppertunity is the likely third choice. Those two were the top two finishers in the Santa Anita Derby. The third-place horse? Candy Boy. This horse finished well behind the top two, but he was coming off a long layoff and was clearly shaking off rust. He needed that race, and he has worked very well on the Churchill Downs surface since. Gary Stevens is in the irons, and he has been almost unbeatable in major races since returning from retirement. This horse is seriously undervalued if he winds up anywhere near this price.
Tapiture (+3000): Trainer Steve Asmussen is the least-popular man in horse racing after a PETA sting captured damning video of an assistant trainer abusing horses. Given that mistreatment, this horse is going to be overlooked. His last race was underwhelming as he was strangely flat in the stretch. He has been better than that in the past, though, and though his breeding is not yet proven at this distance, there is all sorts of quality coming from Tapit. I'm not convinced he is going to win the race, but he could be a piece of it. He has been 2/1 in his last two outings, so a price anywhere near this would be a real luxury despite the concerns.
General A Rod (+3500): He finished third behind Wildcat Red in the Florida Derby last time out, so he has some game. What really stands out about this horse, though, is that he was sold this week - presumably for a fat price. Two stables teamed up to grab him, and both are quality operations. That kind of an investment at this point in the game is a decent indication that the horse is in good form and has a real chance. The trainer isn't changing, so the horse won't notice any difference in his situation. There could be some upside here. Combine that with the fact that horse has raced at Churchill before and that there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree, and there is value in this price.
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