Throughout this past week, Heavy has extensively covered the 2015 Kentucky Derby from all angles.
The Derby’s original 20 horse field and starting positions have changed a bit in the last week. The two major changes come from the original No. 11 Stanford being taken out of the race by trainer Todd Pletcher and replaced with Nick Zito’s No. 20 Frammento. The other change was No. 7 El Kabeir being scratched on Friday. El Kabeir was supposed to be ridden by jockey Calvin Borel who has won the Kentucky Derby on three separate occasions (2007 – Street Sense, 2009 – Mine That Bird, 2010 – Super Saver)
Here is all of the information you need to know before Saturday’s 141st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs:
6:24 p.m. Eastern
Odds to Win 2015 Kentucky Derby as of May 1:
1. OCHO OCHO OCHO (E. Trujillo / J. Cassidy) 25/1
2. CARPE DIEM (J. Velazquez / T. Pletcher) 8/1
3. MATERIALITY (J. Castellano / T. Pletcher) 16/1
4. TENCENDUR (M. Franco / G. Weaver) 50/1
5. DANZIG MOON (J. Leparoux / M. Casse) 33/1
6. MUBTAAHIJ (C. Soumillion / M. de Kock) 12/1
8. DORTMUND (M. Garcia / B. Baffert) 15/4
9. BOLO (R. Bejarano / C. Gaines) 40/1
10. FIRING LINE (G. Stevens / S. Callaghan) 12/1
12. INTERNATIONAL STAR (M. Mena / M. Maker) 25/1
13. ITSAKNOCKOUT (L. Saez / T. Pletcher) 33/1
14. KEEN ICE (K. Desormeaux / D. Romans) 40/1
15. FROSTED (J. Rosario / K. McLaughlin) 16/1
16. WAR STORY (J. Talarno / T. Arnoss) 50/1
17. Mr. Z (R. Vazquez / D. Wayne Lukas) 50/1
18. AMERICAN PHAROAH (V. Espinoza / B. Baffert) 13/5
19. UPSTART (J. Ortiz / R. Violette Jr.) 25/1
20. FAR RIGHT (M. Smith / R. Moquett) 40/1
21. FRAMMENTO (C. Nakatani / N. Zito) 50/1
Click here for the 2015 Kentucky Derby Morning Line Odds
Heavy’s 2015 Kentucky Derby Prediction:
This year’s Kentucky Derby field is one of the best in history, and the quality of horses can be measured all the way down to the last betting choice.
What this year ultimately comes down to is: are the favorites, who are incredibly talented horses, good enough to hold off the second-tier horses?
If you divide the 2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders into three tiers, there are:
The Favorites, Tier-A:
No. 8 Dortmund
No. 18 American Pharoah
The Strong Contenders, Tier-B:
2. Carpe Diem
10. Firing Line
12. International Star
The Wild card, Tier-C:
5. Danzig Moon
19. Far Right
Generally speaking, there is something to like and dislike about each horse. Dortmund is undefeated against good competition and American Pharoah is the best horse in the field.
Carpe Diem has won two quality races in 2015, including the Blue Grass Stakes, although against “solid” competition — jockey John Velazquez chose to ride this Todd Pletcher horse instead of No. 3 Materiality. Materiality’s sire is Afleet Alex, who finished 2nd in the 2005 Kentucky Derby and won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Materiality has excellent speed figures. Firing Line and Frosted also have good speed figures. International star was the most consistent horse on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and finished first in the points standings with 171.
When picking a Derby winner, past performances, breeding, quality of jockey and trainer and feel for the race are all important.
Bucking the trend, I think Carpe Diem, Materiality, Firing Line and Frosted are four quality horses that will make it hard for Dortmund and American Pharoah to match pre-race predictions. That said, exceptional talent usually wins out.
Ultimately Pharoah will be too difficult to defeat, and make history being the first horse to win from post 17 — he hasn’t shifted as the betting favorite for three months for a reason. I don’t think it’s coincidence that Velazquez spurned the younger Materliality for Carpe Diem. The inside post-position will be difficult to handle, but Velazquez is a great jockey and with the right run, will be able to save some ground in comparison to his outside challengers and close well on a projected good track for the race.
Dortmund will be challenged by the traffic, and American Pharoah coming from the outside will work to his advantage.
Heavy’s Official Prediction:
Win: No. 18 American Pharoah
Place: No. 2 Carpe Diem
Show: No. 5 Danzig Moon (Will run well with jockey Julien Leparoux on him and close to finish in the money)
*Changes have been made to update American Pharoah’s post-position, which was incorrect.*