One Lucky Dane Odds to Win the 2015 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 4/7/2015
Bob Baffert has been given, deservedly, a ton of attention on the Triple Crown Trail this year. In Dortmund and American Pharoah he has, arguably, the two best three year olds in the country right now. And they are on a collision course on the first Saturday in May. There are plenty of potential spoilers out there in this strong class of three year olds, though, including one from their own stable. One Lucky Dane was late to emerge on the trail, but when he did he certainly gained attention. He's a work in progress, but there is no doubt that the ceiling is high. Whether he can reach that ceiling soon enough, though, is the question that remains to be answered.
Santa Anita Derby: It was a tour de force performance by Dortmund in the Santa Anita Derby. He was in a class of his own. Of the rest, though, One Lucky Dane was clearly second best of a decent field that could send as many as four to the Kentucky Derby. And it wasn't really close. He settled into second out of the gate and basically stayed there despite some challenges. In the stretch Dortmund explosively pulled away from him, but he was only slightly less decisive in pulling away from the rest of the field. Many years it would have been good enough to win this key Derby prep. This year it really wasn't, but it was enough to get him the points he needed to get a spot in the field in Kentucky - and gain some valuable experience along the way.
Prior experience: I bet One Lucky Dane to place in the Santa Anita Derby. He more than doubled my money. He owed me that after costing me in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last year. I liked his breeding, and he had won last time out at Santa Anita by almost 10 lengths against a strong maiden field, so I jumped all over him at more than 7/1 in a field in which the lower-priced horses caused some real concerns. The race kind of blew up as two year old races can, and this horse had a clear lane coming into the stretch. He was sitting sixth atop the stretch but had all the room to move, and the field in front of him was tiring. I was giddy. But then he didn't fire. Nothing. Nada. He coasted home, and my dreams were dashed. After that he disappeared until March 19 when he crushed an allowance field at Santa Anita by almost 10 lengths. To come back just two weeks later for the Santa Anita Derby was a lot to ask, so it is reasonable to think we might not have seen his best in this past race. It certainly makes him an intriguing prospect. The challenge, though, is that he likes to run from the front, and being a sped horse in the Derby can be scary because early fractions are often insane in this, the craziest of races.
Jockey: Rafael Bejarano has ridden this horse for Baffert up to this point, and it seems likely that he will continue to do so. He doesn't have another obvious mount at this point - certainly not one that gives him a better chance. It seems hard to believe, but Bejarano has not won a Triple Crown race. He has been Top 10 in the country in earnings every year since 2004 and has four Breeders' Cup titles but has not yet struck gold in May or early June. Maybe he's due.
Trainer: Bob Baffert knows a thing or two about winning Triple Crown races - he has won the Kentucky Derby three times, the Preakness five times, and one Belmont. His last Derby win was back in 2002, though, and he hasn't won one of the big ones since the 2010 Preakness, so he has had some bad luck - like in 2012 when he finished second in all three races. As much Triple Crown success as he has had, though, he has never had a group of horses like this. Dortmund and two-year-old champion American Pharoah both have the potential to be great, and One Lucky Dane is only getting better - and is very dangerous if he can get the lead. It's a loaded stable for the trainer who, for my money, is as good as there is right now.
Breeding: The last time Baffert won a Triple Crown race it was with Lookin at Lucky. That horse is One Lucky Dane's daddy. Lookin at Lucky also won the Haskell and had some other decent results, so we know he had some class and some stamina. Damsire Boston Harbor was two-year-old champion in 1996 after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile but was injured early in his three-year-old year, so we never really got to see what he was capable of. I liked him then, though, and I really like what he brings to this horse. This won't be the best breeding in the field, but it is far from the worst, and it certainly doesn't hurt his chances.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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