So when it comes to betting Derby, I often find myself trying to hard to make big money. The fact is, the pools are so big, even when favorites win or hit the board, there is still money to be made. Take for instance 2015, the year American Pharoah won as the heavy favorite. A $2 exacta paid $72 and that was with another betting favorite in the race, Firing Line. A $2 trifecta that year, with two aforementioned horses followed by show runner, and second favorite Dortmund, paid over $200. My point is, I’ve tried to get too aggressive in betting the Kentucky Derby lately and that stops now….maybe.
Here’s the problem with my newfound strategy, this years Derby is wide open. I honestly believe at least 7 horses can make a legitimate case of winning this race (I will list them below). That means, if the betting public agrees with me, that there will be some really good odds on some really strong horses. Could the favorite be at 4-1, possibly 5-1? I think there is a chance that a horse like Gunnevera, who won the Fountain of Youth but had a tough trip in the Florida Derby before finishing 3rd, could see his odds in the double digits.
So, doing things a little differently this year (to hopefully change up the luck a little) here are my top seven horses listed in the order I have them ranked for the Derby:
- Always Dreaming – Pletcher is due for another derby and this horse is getting good at the right time. Seems to be as fast as any horse in the race and can use that speed tactically.
- Irish War Cry – My man Dan from Columbus has repeatedly told me that this horse has only run one bad race. If you throw out the dud in the Fountain of Youth, where plenty of excuses can be made, this horse has no reason not to be in contention.
- McCracken – Coming off a third in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland, this horse could go overlooked at the betting windows. After having to miss his scheduled start in the Tampa Bay Derby, McCracken likely needed a race to get back to full fitness. The Bluegrass did just that and McCracken has bounced out of that race full of energy and tabbing some solid works.
- Gunnevera – JJ Castellano has to win a Derby sometime, right? The best jockey in the world should be able to put the late-running Gunnevera in a nice spot as they turn for home on Saturday. Watch for post position here.
- Classic Empire – The two year old champion really should not be ranked this low, especially since he came off of a long layoff and still won the Louisiana Derby last time out. He will likely be the favorite and could easily win this race. If he does, look out for those calling for another Triple Crown.
- Lookin at Lee – Asmussen seems to have this late runner sitting on a big race. Last out he had a terrible ride but a jockey switch to Corey Lanerie, a Churchill veteran, will be a positive. Taking a flier on a horse who seems to love going long and should be a huge price.
- Pratical Joke – A string of seconds to some the same contenders in this race doesn’t instill a ton of confidence but I think this horse is a grinder and grinders tend to do well in the Derby.
- $50 WPS on Always Dreaming – Total: $150
- $2 Exacta Box with the seven horses listed above – Total: $84
- $1 Trifecta Box with the top five horses listed above – Total: $60