Medal Count Odds to Win the 2014 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 4/18/2014
Given his name, I should make some sort of clever pun about this horse and top-three results, but I just don't have it in me. Even without the puns to think about, though, this horse leaves us with plenty to ponder. He has run on a variety of surfaces, and he has run harder in the last month than any other entrant. He could be sitting on a monster performance, or he could be a total disappointment. So, can Medal Count win the Kentucky Derby? Oddsmakers at Sportsbook.ag say that Medal Count's odds to win the Kentucky Derby sit at +4000, which puts him behind 12 other horses in the field. When trying to determine how the biggest race sets up for Medal Count, here are five factors to consider:
Blue Grass Stakes: Medal Count settled well off the early pace, sitting ninth in the 14-horse field. He looked comfortable and was relaxed. When it came time to make the move, he looked like he had plenty of fuel, and he made an aggressive move. The problem he had, though, was that race winner Dance With Fate ran a very similar race - 10th early on before his move - and had a clearer path and a better move on that day. Medal Count was second-best and did nothing wrong. The asterisk here, though, is that the Blue Grass was run this year - for the last time, mercifully - on a synthetic track. Form from the Keeneland synthetic has transferred incredibly poorly to Churchill in general and the Derby in particular. To save yourself a headache, it's easiest just to draw a big line through this race and pretend that it never happened.
Prior experience: The horse traveled a crazy path to get here. We have discussed his second in the Blue Grass already. Just eight days before that outing, though, he ran again - and came away with a win. That was in the grade 3 Transylvania, also on the synthetic at Keeneland - a race that isn't a traditional Derby prep. In that race he again settled well off the pace before making his move. He bounced back remarkably well from that effort, and his Blue Grass was impressive given the amount of rest. There is no doubt that this is a tough horse - though we are yet to know for sure if he is tough enough to race three times in a month. The lack of rest isn't the only issue. The horse has run his last two races on synthetic. He has won on turf as well. He has run on dirt, but it hasn't been his best surface by any means. So, is this horse just a synthetic and grass specialist who will struggle badly on the dirt like so many before him? Or will his breeding and dirt experience put him in good shape here.
Trainer: Few people know the Churchill Downs track better than Dale Romans. His father was a trainer at the track, and Romans grew up there. He has not won a Kentucky Derby, but he has finished third with both Paddy O'Prado and Dullahan. He's a capable trainer, and he obviously has this horse dialed in right now. He's an asset for the horse.
Jockey: Robby Albarado has been aboard for the last two races, and there is no reason at this point to expect that he won't be aboard again for the Derby. Albarado has not won the Derby, but he has had plenty of experience. He has appeared in the race nine times, and he had his best showing in the 2013 edition with Golden Soul. He was the regular rider for Curlin, and he finished third in the Derby as the favorite in 2007 before winning the Preakness. Albarado is a decent rider, and he is a fine choice here.
Breeding: Stamina is an issue for a lot of horses in the Kentucky Derby each year, but that certainly isn't the case for Medal Count. He is a son of the late Dynaformer. That horse was also the sire of Barbaro, so the Derby distance isn't an issue. He also sired Americain, the winner of the 2010 Melbourne Cup, which is run over two miles. There is stamina to burn there. The dam side provides plenty of stamina as well. His damsire is Unbridled's Song, son of 1990 Derby winner Unbridled. Unbridled's Song won the Wood Memorial but was a disappointing fifth in the 1996 Derby. As a sire, he produced last year's three year old champ Will Take Charge and strong Derby contenders Eight Belles, Dunkirk and others. His offspring can handle distance.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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