The Runner Sports

Race For The Roses: The First Step To The Triple Crown

Horse racing attracts a wide array of spectators, those who come to bet, those who come to watch, and the true fans of the sport that do the two very thoroughly. Like any championship type game, the Kentucky Derby attracts more faces than you’d usually see watching the typical horse race. The Kentucky Derby is much more than just a horse race though. It’s one of the biggest races a horse, jockey, trainer, and owner can compete in. It provides the starting gate for something much bigger, the elusive Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing. We haven’t seen a Triple Crown winner since 1978 when Affirmed won all three races. Before you can even be in the discussion of the achievement you have to win the first race though, not an easy thing to do. It’s one of the hardest races to succeed in as it’s the only time in a horses life it’ll share the dirt with 19 other horses, causing it to get a little bit stuffy out of the gate. Horse racing is a betting mans game and sometimes it can get a little crazy depicting the card with so many horses to choose from, let us ease that pain for you a little bit. Forecast calls for an inch of rain throughout Saturday so think wet when you consider conditions for the race.


Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
1 Black Onyx Joe Bravo Kelly J Breen Sterling Racing 50-1

Well it’s going to be one horse easier on you betters out there Saturday as Black Onyx was officially scratched Friday afternoon. The scratch was a result of Black Onyx showing signs of limping and attempting to favor it’s other legs in it’s final workout Friday. The trainers immediately took action and took x-rays on the horse’s leg. It was confirmed that a non-displaced chip in the horse’s left ankle is what was causing the issues. It was a no brainer to pull the horse from the race. Sterling Racing and would be jockey Joe Bravo are very disappointed that they aren’t going to be competing. Alternate Fear The Kitten is also a scratch as Black Onyx’s scratch did not provide enough time for Fear The Kitten to compete, as result the first post will remain unoccupied and the horses will start from their originally drawn starting gate positions.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
2 Oxbow Gary Stevens D. Wayne Lukas Calumet Farms 30-1

Oxbow is one of the few horses with Churchill Downs experience. Oxbow also has one of the largest amount of race experience with 9 career races. The Kentucky bred colt hasn’t won in it’s three races in 2013, but came close on March 16th before Derby foe Will Take Charge stole the show by a head in the final stretch of the race. There is a reason he’s a long shot in this race and it’s because he hasn’t done well against the best horses in the field. Oxbow does have wins over the scratched Fear The Kitten and 50-1 shot Golden Soul. He’s being mounted by a serious vet though in Gary L. Stevens. Stevens has won the Kentucky Derby three times in his career although it’s been 8 years since he last ran it, and 16 years since he last won, he’s proven before that he’s capable. Stevens has the sixth most mounts for the Derby so if there’s a guy you want riding, why not him? He’s your best 20+ long shot, but there are certainly a few more 10+ options with a better shot at winning.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
3 Revolutionary Calvin Borel Todd A. Pletcher WinStar Farm, LLC 10-1

It’s hard to define a long shot as 10-1, but if you do than this is easily your best long shot for betting. For starters when you talk about dominating jockeys there isn’t a more dominant figure in the Kentucky Derby in this decade. Calvin Borel has redefined what it means to be a winner on this track. Borel won the 2007, 2009, and 2010 Kentucky Derbies, once riding a 50-1 Mine That Bird. Statistically speaking, Revolutionary is a much better horse and is set to provide spectators and awesome finish. Revolutionary is riding quite the streak coming into the Derby as he’s on a 3 race win streak and a perfect 2-0 in 2013. We’ve seen three different faces to this horse in his last three win. First on December 28th we saw this horse break very well, start the race in the front three and remain there, as he jumped to first almost mid way through the race and never look back as he drew away in the back stretch. Second win on February 2nd, we saw Revolutionary break a little slow and remain 6 back and slowly worked his way up until in the final stretch Revolutionary shot up from 4 back to take the win. His third win Revolutionary had a horrendous start and didn’t make a move until mid race where he moved from 12th to 6th, and then quickly to win as he worked the back of the track, he lead the entire final stretch though. He’s faced Derby favorite Orb and lost big back in November, but this horse has come a long way from, maybe Borel can give this horse the work it needs to get the win. This horse also has a win in wet conditions.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
4 Golden Soul Robby Albarado Dallas Stewart Charles E. Fipke 50-1

What do we say about this dear ole long shot with one win? Well it’s a much deserved long shot that’s for sure. He’s had a lot of races against Derby opponents and hasn’t really been able to prove much. Stewart hasn’t every had a horse finish better than 6th in his two attempts. Robby Albarado has also been here before but never finished better than third, where he’s finished both times he’s raced, so at most you could count this horse to show, but it’s a stretch to do even that.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
5 Normandy Invasion Javier Castellano Chad C Brown Fox Hill Farms, Inc. 12-1

This is another horse you have to keep your eye on. We saw what was nearly a Derby preview back on April 5th when we Verrazano, Normandy Invasion, and Vyjack took Aqueduct in win, show, place fashion. He showed some serious fight against one of the favorites in this race, but given the chance could it be redeemed for a win? Fox Hill Farms and Chad Brown seem to think so as they bring back Javier Castellano who rode him so well to give it another go. A lot of people are putting their faith in this horse as it’s seemed to earn the peoples choice. I tend to avoid those picks as they are generally very over amped and people just bite on anything, but don’t overlook this horse for this race. They gave this horse a killer workout on the 27th of April and it’ll be a matter of if this horse can finish strong in a dangerous speedy field coming down the stretch. It’s been just beat out when facing opponents in this field, but don’t count him out despite the horse not having a win since November of 2012.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
6 Mylute Rosie Napravnik Thomas M Amoss GoldMark Farm, LLC and Whisper Hill Farm 15-1

This is a hard horse to look at past performances and honestly think that it’s got a winning shot. If there is one peak to this horse it’s Rosie Napravnik who is honestly the best chance we have at seeing the first female Kentucky Derby winner. She’s had a pretty quality start to her season and could really be the key factor to this horse getting a win. The last and only other time she’s mounted the horse was back in December where she won leading the entire race. The horse has had some good workouts in Churchill and could really be one to surprise you. It’s got a lot of on track experience and has seen the the Churchill track before in it’s life.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
7 Giant Finish Jose L Espinoza Anthony W. Dutrow Sunrise Stables 50-1

Yet another long shot to look over and possibly make up a chunk of change you’ve lost thus far in your 2013 bettings. This New York bred horse should not be taken lightly considering it’s odds. Trainer Anthony Dutrow gets his first horse in the running and should look to not disappoint. Jose Espinoza mounts up for Giant Finish for the second straight time. The last time he did the horse finished third behind scratched Derby horse Black Onyx. He hasn’t faced any other Derby competitors but that doesn’t mean he’s an automatic no no, just means you don’t have as much to compare. His other races are enough to point you in the opposite direction though.


goldencents Delta Jackpot

Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
8 Goldencents Kevin Krigger Doug F. O’Neill W.C. Racing 5-1

If you’re a believer in winning or luck streaks you can’t deny what Rick Pitino has done in 2013. Hall of Fame bound, 2013 NCAA Tournament Champion, and now his horse is running in the Kentucky Derby, can’t help but think things continue. You may not know much about him, but his story is huge. Krigger looks to become the first African-American to win the Kentucky Derby since 1902. He’s been the sole rider of this horse en route to this moment and he’s had great success riding him. This horse had a horrible workout back on April 25th, but I can’t say I know the context of what they were trying to do in it. They certainly weren’t pushing it in the 6 furlongs they ran posting a 1:16.20 time. It’d be a great story for this horse and Kevin Krigger to get a win.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
9 Overanalyze Rafael Bejarano Todd A. Pletcher Repole Stable 15-1

Yet another Pletcher horse in the running here which should come as no surprise as Pletcher is one of the top trainers in the business. Overanalyze is not just the name of this horse, but something you shouldn’t do when looking at it’s past performances. Pletcher might have the second most horses ever run in the Derby, but he’s only got one win. So don’t think that just because Pletcher trained it’s a gimme. It’s ridden by a Derby winless jockey in Rafael Bejarano who in his eight career Derby rides has finished 4th place as his best finish. This horse has seen it’s competition over it’s last three races and shown it can at least top the fellow long shots like Frac Daddy and Normandy Invasion, but failing agains Vyjack. The horse ran a stellar workout on the 27th, but I dunno if it’ll be enough to rally this horse to the win.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
10 Palace Malice Mike E. Smith Todd A. Pletcher Dogwood Stable 20-1

The last time Palace Malice won a race you have to go back to August of 2012 in Saratoga. They’re gonna try an rejuvenate this horse by putting Derby vet Mike Smith in control of the saddle and hope he can achieve this horse to it’s full potential. Palace Malice has failed in a few races against Derby competitors, and other than a great workout on the 27th there isn’t much to say this time around will be any different. The horse has experience in wet conditions but it’s hard to gauge when so many of the horses haven’t yet, so you can’t really decide if that actually benefits this horse or any of the other ones, just kind of makes it a mess for them all. This horse does have 3 second place finishes in it’s 6 race career and could make for a potential place candidate as if matched with a favorite that does end up winning could balance out for a decent payout. Not my candidate to take the race by surprise though.


Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
11 Lines of Battle Ryan Moore Adrian P. O’Brien Joseph Allen, John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith 30-1

You don’t often see people experiment with a horse in such a big race but you’ll see it here today with this horse in two ways. Lines of Battle has not run a single race in the United States and has spent it’s entire career in Europe, but it’s another first for this horse and staff too. They’re taking this horse off turf, where except for 2 races on all weather blend, it’s raced it’s entire life. We’ve seen turf horses come over and do big things in high stakes dirt races though so it’s not necessarily unheard of, but something that doesn’t happen a ton. It’s not the first time we’ve seen a European or Dubai based horse come and attempt to win the Derby, and most have failed before in the attempt. This horse didn’t even come into the States until Wednesday and it was looked in quarantine to avoid cross contamination of foreign germs and what not. If you’re looking to put faith in a long shot there are certainly more in this field that come with less question marks.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
12 Itsmyluckyday Elvis Trujillo Edward Plesa Jr. Trilogy Stable 15-1

This horse has the most on track race experience of this entire field and as a result has the most wins of them all too. They’ve done a great job at pacing this horse’s races and for the most part races with the perfect amount of time off to go back out and win. This horse has won 50% of it’s goes and should not be taken lightly. In it’s most recent races and 2013 attempts the horse is 3 2-1-0. It challenged Derby favorite Orb back on March 30th where despite leading into the stretch was just barely outfinished. Trujillo was jockeying that day and you can bet he’ll look to avenge that loss in this most impressive stage. Another horse with a win in wet conditions as it should only make you feel more comfortable with the rain expected. The one concern would be it’s bad back to back finishes against a number of Derby contenders November and December of last year where he finished 4th and 7th. I know I’ve talked up a couple horse in the 10-20 range but consider this one too when thinking about a potential winner. He posted a poor workout on the 25th but it could have been a freshener or pace control as again the context of the timing was unknown. It’ll be Trujillo’s first time in the Derby and trainer Edward Plesa’s second horse to compete.


2013 Kentucky Derby - Preview

Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
13 Falling Sky Luis Saez John P. Terrnova Newtown Anner Stud 50-1

I liked this horse a whole more before when Sano Antonio was training him, as the horse has steadily declined since Terranova took over. I get that you can’t win them all, but you can’t take a winning horse and win the first race with it and only go downhill from there. It’s a rookie team up in here too as it’ll be Luis Saez first time riding in the Derby and Terranova’s first horse to do so. But while that can be an intimidating fact, there are plenty of riders who’ve won their first time riding for the roses. In fact that seems the most appropriate way to win it after all. We’ll see if this horse can turn it’s downward ways around and manage to shock the world as another 50-1 shot to win the race.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
14 Verrazano John R. Velazquez Todd A. Pletcher Let’s Go Stable 4-1

When the field was set Verrazano was quickly the favorite but Orb slowly worked it’s way into the top spot, but that’s ok cause you know all the odds that work against the overall favorite. Like how the overall favorite hasn’t won this race since 2008 and has only won it four times since 1979. Although don’t be surprised to see this horse play a back and forth with Orb in the closing minutes before the race to be the overall favorite. This horse represents what Pletcher’s best shot at a win this year as this horse is a pure beast. Verrazano is a perfect 4-0 in it’s life and has one of the most races ran in 2013. So you won’t have to be worried about this horse not being prepared or warmed up, but you could worry about the weariness of it. He ran in the early part of April and fatigue shouldn’t really factor in. This horse has beaten a wide number of opponents it’s gonna see in this race, but sometimes those odds are stacked against you as it’s not too common to see a horse beat the same horses multiple times, usually one of the others manage to get the upper leg. If you really wanna feel comfortable work this horse into your trifecta, exacta, or pick 3.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
15 Charming Kitten Edgar S Prado Todd A. Pletcher Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey 20-1

You always have to feel comfortable with a Kentucky Derby winner in the last decade mounting your champion stead. Prado won back in 2006 on Barbaro the horse that wowed us all before a tragic end to what could have been the first Triple Crown in a long time. I’m sure Prado has been in search of a horse like Barbaro again, but I can’t say that Charming Kitten who earns my personal award for worst name will be the solution to his search. This horse has had a couple good goes in 2013 already but proven it can’t win against even the middle of the pack horses in this race, like losing to Java’s War and Palace Malice on the 13th of April. This race will come as the horses first start on dirt, and you know my concern with that tactic. As much as I like Prado I don’t like the horse and would avoid betting on it.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
16 Orb Joel Rosario Claude R. McGaughey Stuart S. Janney III, Phipps Stable 7-2

The current favorite to the race has a lot of reason being there. Orb has been on quite a streak winning it’s last four in a row and multiple over fellow Derby competition. This horse is fast and has a finishing ability that should worry it’s competition. If this horse wins it’ll likely be in a fashion that we love to watch as he passes horses coming down the stretch. Rosario is back on top of the horse after not riding his last two races, although Rosario has ridden five other races with the horse, you have to wonder if the separation caused any lapse in knowledge of this horse. The horse was finally in top shape and he had it down on how to ride, doubt a vet like him struggles with that though. Rosario looks to get his first Kentucky Derby win here though as he’s raced three other times with a top finish of 4th. It’ll be Claude McGaughey’s first horse to compete in the Derby and as long as it’s been since a favorite won we could see it happen here. Most times its a good thing to draw the rail but if you miss out on that it’s almost easier to take the outside gates as with 19 horses the opening seconds of the race get very cramped and you don’t want to have to pull up and lose your momentum early getting boxed out. If Rosario can move this horse out quickly enough he could get a move to the rail, otherwise he’ll just have to work from the outside. This horse likes to finish bout four wide so why not stick there the whole way through? It’s a foolish bet to take this straight up so if you’re really set on betting Orb look long and hard for a running partner or partners to double up in exacta or a trifecta.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
17 Will Take Charge Jon K. Court D. Wayne Lukas Willis D. Horton 20-1

This marks the second horse trained by D. Wayne Lukas in this race as he’s no stranger to getting horses to the big show. He’s trained an unprecedented 45 Kentucky Derby horses most of all time, and won with 4 of them, the most recent coming in 1999. This will be the third straight year Jon Court has ridden in the Derby and he’s improved on his trips finishing 15th the first time and 11th, but still seemingly far away from that big win number one. This horse and jockey have experience together and Court is the only jockey with a win on this horse, which is why he’s probably mounting up with this horse on this most special of occasions. We’ve seen this horse work well from a middle to wider run and will not be screwed if he misses a move to the rail early on. This horse looks good and could be a surprise come race time, with just a few kinks needed to be worked before, all it takes is a little slip up and this horse is in the money.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
18 Frac Daddy Victor Lebron Kenneth G. McPeek Magic City Thoroughbred Partners 50-1

You have to worry about a horse owned by Magic City Thoroughbred Partners, because that is just an atrocious name, and no other reason. I’m sure this horse is a long shot for that sole reason. Also probably for the fact that it’s been dominated in every instance when it’s run against horses you’ll find in this very race. Proven to be a failure against it’s competitive, it’s only a safe bet to not take this horse. McPeek hopes to keep his reputation alive with this horse though as he’s never had a horse of his finish worse than top 10, and this horse could certainly be the first. The horse is being ridden by Derby rookie Victor Lebron but the odds are the exact same you first time as it is any other time, and actually they’re better here for him with only 19 horses in the running. If I had to put my faith in any 50-1 shot this horse would be it. He’s hung with some of the good horses in the field, and with the right circumstances like maybe rain, he could sneak a win in.


JAVA'S WAR - The Toyota Blue Grass Gr I - 89th Running

Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
19 Java’s War Julien R. Leparoux Kenneth G. McPeek Charles E. Fipke 15-1

Mcpeek and Fipke will have two chances to walk away victorious in this race and the odds probably favor this horse over either of their others. Java’s War has had some great races in it’s life and gone head to head with potential favorites like Verrazano and just narrowly lost. They’re giving this horse the best chance you could by putting Julien Leparoux on him, even though Leparoux has never won the Kentucky Derby, he’s a fantastic jockey who is more than due for a win here, and this horse could provide that. The biggest concern for this horse is that it’s had the most of it’s success on the turf, but has at least had experience on dirt with four races, winning, placing, and showing one time each. I’d love to see Lapraoux get his first win here, but there are just a few more horses I see stealing the show before this one can.



Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
20 Vyjack Garrett K. Gomez Rudy R. Rodriguez Pick Six Racing 15-1

First off I love the Pick Six Racing brand name, how appropriate that they embrace the gambling nature that defines the sport and make a cool name with it. Jockey Garrett Gomez is pulling for tenth time’s a charm as he looks to ride in his tenth Kentucky Derby and he’s still without a win. He’s got a solid chance with this horse who’s only not won once in it’s career. That lose came as Vyjack’s sole meeting agaisnt Derby buddies and he finished behind Verrazano and Normandy Invasion. He’s another horse with wet conditions experience and is a perfect one for one in those circumstances. You can hate that he finished third in a close race with a couple of Derby contenders or you can like the fact that rain helps horses like this even the playing field, which means this horse is not just a 15-1 shot but a viable threat. He’s not the fastest starter and the rain could either make that worse or put him on par with others which could mean that instead of losing trying to play catchup down the stretch, Vyjack could lead the entire way.


Gate Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
21 Alt Fear the Kitten Alan Garcia Michael J. Maker Frank D. Irvin 50-1

Scratched and that’s all you need to know.


So there you have it a little bit on every horse that’ll be competing in the race. Hopefully that can assist you in your quest of guessing the winners and may the odds be ever in your favor. Before you go I just want to leave you with my personal bets and my short list of horses to watch out for and potentially pair.

Top 4 horses:

Orb, Verrazano, Revolutionary, Itsmyluckyday

My bets:

Trifecta: Revolutionary, Verrazano, Orb

Straight up: Revolutionary

Pick 3 (11,12,13): Revolutionary, ?, ?  (Come back closer to race time for my full pick three)


Alright everybody thanks for reading and I hope that this has provided a little bit of clearing to the craziness that is handicapping the Kentucky Derby. Have fun watching and be sure to lay down the bets and expect a big brag from me when I win mine. Alright everybody later.


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Author: Tyler Arnold

My name is Tyler Arnold, I am the founder, co-owner, and editor-in-chief of The Runner Sports. Sports have been my life since I was young, so here I am doing the only sensible thing, making a career of it. I love it all, and will watch any and every game I possibly can. Thanks for your readership.