Vicar's In Trouble Odds to Win the 2014 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 4/18/2014
Vicar's In Trouble gets my nod for best name in this year's Kentucky Derby. That has never come through for me in the past, though, so it's not an angle worth exploring. Or maybe this horse is due? While that's an important debate in and of itself, this horse deserves attention for other reasons, too. Namely, as the winner of the Louisiana Derby he comes into the Derby as one of the small handful of major prep race winners. Is that enough for this horse to come through on the biggest of day? Can Vicar's In Trouble win the Kentucky Derby? According to the oddsmakers at Sportsbook.ag, the chances are better than most. Vicar's in Trouble's odds to win the Kentucky Derby sit at +1800, which puts him behind just four horses in the field at this point. When considering if Vicar's In Trouble can deliver a win at that very nice price, here are six factors to consider:
Louisiana Derby: Winning a major prep race can never be discounted - especially one run on dirt. It was a commanding win, too. He set the pace early then pulled off down the stretch. It was basically effortless, and it came against at least one and potentially two Kentucky Derby entrants. Despite the strong effort, though, there are a couple of red flags. First, the closing fractions for the final furlong were impossibly slow - especially for a horse who seemed to have so much in the tank. You have to question both why he wasn't able to go much faster and why he was able to run away from the field at such a glacial pace. It really devalues this race. As significantly, this race has not exactly been a factory for Derby winners. Just two horses in the history of this race - Black Gold in 1924 and Grindstone in 1996 - have gone on to win in Kentucky after winning in Louisiana. A third, Risen Star in 1988, failed in the Derby but went on to win the Preakness and Belmont.
Prior experience: The horse had run four times before his Louisiana Derby victory. In 2013 he ran twice as a two year old - finishing third in his debut then breaking his maiden the second time around. He made his stakes debut in January in the LeComte, winning a race against a field that looked better at the time than it has turned out to be. He again was setting the pace before the win. Next up was the Risen Star. He was unable to get the lead early, tried to rate through the middle of the race, couldn't get comfortable, and had an inadequate charge remaining in the stretch as he wound up third. It was a disappointing performance as favorite, and it raised concerns about his need to get the race he wants. A horse that wants to be the speed is a major concern going into the Derby because of the huge field, the amount of speed typically in the field, and the blistering early fractions that can emerge.
Trainer: Mike Maker is a veteran of the Kentucky circuit, piling up meet wins at Turfway Park and Churchill Downs. He knows Churchill as well as anyone, and he knows how to win there. That's a big asset. Less of an asset is his record of success - or lack of it - in the Derby. He had two entrants in 2010 and finished eighth and 14th. In 2012, Hansen, who was the two year old champion, was ninth. He has yet to have a big day on the first Saturday in May. He is going to have plenty of opportunities this year. He will almost certainly have both this horse and General a Rod in the field, and Harry's Holiday is sitting on the bubble and will likely run as well if he gets in.
Jockey: Rosie Napravnik, by far the best female jockey in the world right now, has the mount here. She has yet to win the Derby, but she has a Kentucky Oaks victory and is going to win a Derby or three before she is done. She is very popular with the general betting public, though, so the horse will draw more betting action than you might otherwise expect.
Owners: This horse is owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, very prominent Kentucky owners who have had particular success with homebreds like Kitten's Joy and Precious Kitten. They also own Derby entrant We Miss Artie, who is trained by Todd Pletcher. That will make for good storylines and a particularly nervous day for the couple, but it won't have a significant impact on how the race is run.
Breeding: Vicar's In Trouble is a son of young sire Into Mischief. In his first crop of three year olds last year he had both Goldencents and Vyjack in the Derby. Both horses seemed promising, but both faded badly later in the race - a bad omen for the stamina capabilities of the sire. His dam is a sprinter, and his damsire Vicar won the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby in 1999 but had a disastrous outing in the Derby that year and ran shorter races after that. In short, stamina is much more of a concern for this horse than for others in the field.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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