This is a very odd Kentucky Derby. Most years when I sit down to write this particular article it isn't too tough to pick the five or six elite contenders from the rest of the field. This year, though, it is tough to spot the truly elite horses and tougher still to find five or six that you could definitively say have little chance. Despite the presence of a likely strong favorite in Nyquist, this is as wide-open a field as I remember in a while. I'm not convinced that there are any great horses in this mix, but there are a lot that are pretty good. So, instead of focusing on just a few horses that can win the Kentucky Derby this year, I am going to make a short argument for each of the 20 horses likely to be in the field as of this moment - while ignoring for now the several arguments against each horse (runners arranged in order of Kentucky Derby qualifying points):
Gun Runner: His win in the Louisiana Derby was decisive and impressive, he is training beautifully, and he has a win at Churchill Downs to his credit already.
Nyquist: He has never lost a race, he always finds a way to get it done, and he has been a road warrior, so the travel won't bother him at all.
Exaggerator: His win in the Santa Anita Derby was very impressive, and this will be a tough horse to beat if the weather gods don't cooperate and the track conditions are less than ideal on Derby day.
Outwork: He has won in Kentucky before. He also showed a lot of courage in the Wood memorial, holding on in the face of a strong challenge from Trojan Nation.
Brody's Cause: He took a huge step forward in winning the Blue Grass in his second start of the year. If he can maintain forward momentum, he could be a factor.
Creator: The Arkansas Derby had the deepest field of any of the major preps, and Creator was clearly best. There should be enough early speed in the Derby to set up his deep closing trip.
Lani: He has only raced in Japan and Dubai, but he is bred well for this task and he has had plenty of time to become re-acquainted with the land he was bred in.
Mor Spirit: His trainer just won a freaking Triple Crown. The Santa Anita Derby was by far the worst race of his career and he was still second best in a pretty good field on a track surface that he hated.
Mohaymen: His last race was a disaster, but up until that point he was an unbeaten and hugely talented runner. Even great horses have bad days.
Danzig Candy: He's a pacesetter who should be able to set the pace here. He burned himself out by going too fast early in the Santa Anita Derby, but with slightly less aggressive early fractions he could be a bigger factor.
Destin: He'll certainly be fresh - he hasn't raced since March 12. That's not a traditional approach by any means, but trainer Todd Pletcher had huge success off of big layoffs at the Breeders' Cup last year.
Suddenbreakingnews: He has been first or second in all but one of his eight races and is a deep closer that has shown a strong ability to negotiate through traffic and find the holes he needs.
Oscar Nominated: Okay, I lied - I can't make a case for every horse here. He is making his dirt debut here, hasn't beaten anyone of note, and just doesn't seem good enough.
Shagaf: It was a hugely disappointing Wood Memorial for this previously undefeated colt, but it was a muddy track he didn't like. Trainer Chad Brown does well with beaten favorites next time out.
Whitmore: His jockey just won a freaking Triple Crown - and has won the last two editions of this race. He's another deep closer who finds ways to avoid trouble and get a piece of the action most of the time.
Tom's Ready: He has won at Churchill Downs and has trained well since returning to the track in April.. He shook off a really bad outing two races back to have perhaps his best race last time.
My Man Sam: He made a tremendous move from last to second while travelling in the widest path in the Blue Grass. That was just his first stakes appearance and fourth race, so there is plenty of room to learn and mature.
Majesto: His trainer has saddled four freaking Triple Crown winners. Sure, they were in Venezuela, but you still have to know your stuff to win that much. His Florida Derby was a massive step up in class, but he didn't seem intimidated or out of place.
Trojan Nation: Sure, he is a maiden with only one solid race to his credit. But his sire is Street Cry, who won the Dubai World Cup and then sired Derby winner Street Sense and the great Zenyatta. Damsire Summer Squall won the Preakness and sired Derby winner Charismatic. This is a maiden that was born to run at this distance.
Mo Tom: He has trained very well at Churchill Downs lately. His speed figures have improved in each outing lately even if his results haven't.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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