The Kentucky Derby (G1) is always full of betting opportunities that offer great value. Longshots who are peaking at the right time can spice up exotics. To find a huge score, you must find the right angle to capitalize on, whether it would be with the betting-favorite or with an outsider who has a pedigree that would relish the 10-furlong distance, angles are everywhere.
I have keyed my interest into four must-watch horses for this Saturday’s 145th running of the Kentucky Derby. With all the hyperbole and dramatics that surround covering the biggest event of the sport, let’s just cut to the brass tacks and get into my must watch horses.
1. Game Winner (Post 15) – The likely Derby betting-favorite has many things to like about him. He’s trained by five-time Derby-winning conditioner Bob Baffert. Baffert has a trio of horses that could tie him for most Derby wins with Ben Jones. The son of Candy Ride is proven on the Churchill Downs surface – he won the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on this very track. His pedigree is regal and should have no problem dealing with the 10-furlong distance or an off track, which is likely come Saturday. He’s out of an A.P. Indy mare and the Derby will be his third start of his sophomore season. He’s ultra-consistent, never finishing worse than second. There are several angles to like about the possible Derby favorite and he might just keep the streak for Derby favorites winning going for another year.
2. Vekoma (Post 6) – Vekoma is a horse that might get forgotten at the betting windows. He’s not being heavily hyped by the “experts” of the sport, but don’t be fooled – this son of Candy Ride has tons of talent. He’s not the prettiest mover, his stride is unorthodox and a little choppy, but he has speed in abundance for trainer George Weaver. He’s out of a Speightstown mare, so he should relish an off-track. Javier Castellano, who might be the hottest jockey in the country right now, will be in the irons. He’s very tactical and should be stalking the pace early. He’ll get first run over the closers and I think he will run a big race.
3. Win Win Win (Post 13) – This son of Hat Trick will be looking to live up to his name and just Win Win Win. The Michael Trombetta-charge has the right running style I look for in a longshot to use underneath. He has a strong closing kick and he seems to run his race every time. His dam-sire, Smarty Jones, ran away with the 2004 Kentucky Derby on a sloppy track, so an off-track shouldn’t be an issue. He will be every bit of his 15-1 morning line with Kentucky Derby rookie Julian Pimentel getting the mount. I’ll be using him underneath to spice up the exotics.
4. Spinoff (Post 18) – We’re swinging hard with another longshot here, but with good reason when it comes to this son of Hard Spun. With all the rain in the forecast for Saturday, the likelihood of a fast track is not good. Hard Spun’s progeny love a wet track – the wetter the better. Todd Pletcher won his first Derby on a sloppy track with Super Saver in 2010. This horse is vaguely similar to Super Saver. He’s tactical with a good turn of foot. Manny Franco will be in the irons. His pedigree runs strong on both sides. His dam, Zaftig, was a Grade One-winning miler who ran third in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint (G1) in 2008. Spinoff is coming into the Derby off of a strong second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (G2) where he was passed in the final yards by fellow Kentucky Derby entrant By My Standards. There are many reasons to like this lightly raced colt and value is one of them. I’ll be using him on all my tickets come Saturday.
Photo of Game Winner courtesy of the Breeders’ Cup