Spinoff Odds to Win the 2019 Kentucky Derby with Picks and Predictions
Todd Pletcher usually has a horse or two among the top contenders in the Kentucky Derby - and a few more that have a chance. But this year the trainer has just two, and neither really moves the needle. Spinoff has some upside, and at his best he has been impressive, but it is tougher to imagine him wearing roses on the first Saturday in May than it is for most horses in the field. Can Spinoff give Pletcher another derby winner?
Last race: The Louisiana Derby blew up when heavy favorite War of Will encountered problems and didn't fire. Spinoff was one of the horses that benefitted. Going off at 4/1, Spinoff overcame some serious early contact to run third much of the way around the track. He took the lead around the turn but could not hold off By My Standards . His second-place finish in his lone Derby prep race was enough to earn a spot in the field.
Prior experience: Spinoff is one of the lightest-raced colts in the Derby field this year. He made his debut was back in June, breaking his maiden over five furlongs on an off track. In August at Saratoga, he made his stakes debut in the Saratoga Special, finishing third in what turned out to be a pretty underwhelming field. Then he had a long stretch of time off, not posting a workout again until January and not racing until an allowance at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 22. He made a massive statement on that day, overcoming early contact to win by 11 lengths. Despite the lack of experience, it was that big showing that drove his odds down in the Louisiana Derby.
Trainer: I am absolutely fascinated by Todd Pletcher and his Derby struggles. On any given race day that isn't the first Saturday in May, Pletcher is one of the four of five trainers in the world that you would choose above all others to train your horse. He is a brilliant trainer with ridiculous amounts of success under his belt. But the Derby is his kryptonite. Sure, he has won the race twice - with Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017. But he has entered 50 other horses that have not won. Fifty! In contrast, Bob Baffert, who runs a smaller stable than Pletcher, but one equally focused on the Derby, has won five times in just 29 entrants. Pletcher has had an oddly slow year in prep races, and his two entrants this year is well below his norm. You can never rule out a guy as good as Pletcher, but you can't have a ton of confidence in him in this spot, either.
Jockey: This colt had been ridden by John Velazquez, who is Pletcher's first-call rider. But Velazquez, notably, has chosen to ride Code of Honor instead of either of the two Pletcher horses. That's not much of a vote of confidence. In his place, Manny Franco will be aboard the horse for the first time. Franco is a veteran rider, but he has never won a Triple Crown race, has a career best of third in a Breeders' Cup race, and has only won five Grade 1 races in his career. Velazquez can knock out that many in a good week. This assignment, though not terrible, certainly doesn't give the long shot a boost.
Breeding: Spinoff is a son of Hard Spun, one of the unluckiest horses in recent memory. He was good enough to win a Triple Crown race. But he was born in 2004, which meant that in the 2007 Classics he had to face Street Sense, Curlin and Rags to Riches. Being not quite as good as one of the deepest classes in recent memory is just bad luck. In several years Hard Spun would have won two Classics. Hard Spun is a well-bred grandson of Northern Dancer but has yet to have a major breakout as a stallion. His most relevant son for our purposes is Wicked Strong, who was fourth in the 2014 Derby. Spinoff's damsire is Gone West, a grandson of Secretariat. Gone West sired Belmont winner Commendable and is the grandsire of Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones. The breeding here is solid.
Odds: Spinoff was at 35/1 in the final Kentucky Derby futures pool, which puts him among the higher-priced horses in the field. He's at a slightly more optimistic +3300 in futures action at BetOnline.
Can Spinoff Win the 2019 Kentucky Derby?: Probably not. He's a talented enough horse, and he is going to get the distance in all likelihood. But he is not as experienced or seemingly as talented as the best in this field. If you like to go deep on your exotics, then you probably won't argue too much with this price. But he certainly isn't a top contender.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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