Kentucky Derby Handicapping

Kentucky Derby preview brought to you by Hunter Rankin.

There are many great stories this year, even a one eyed horse aptly named Patch. It is a wide open race, and a lot depends on the pace that first quarter mile. There doesn’t look to be a lot of pace in this year’s Derby, but with 20 horses, it always seems to be a hot early pace. However, if no pace develops, it could benefit those closer to the lead.

  • Always Dreaming (5) would be one of those that benefits as he figures to be close to the pace.
  • Irish War Cry (17) will also be close, and he certainly has the pedigree to carry that speed a long way! And if you’re a Maryland fan, you might consider his connections with Maryland based trainer Graham Motion.

From a bettor’s perspective, you might take the stance that a faster pace scenario does develop up front leaving room for these selections.

  • McCraken (15) breaks from an ideal spot for his running style and should be able to secure a nice trip with that long run into the first turn. He really needed his last race, and should be cranked and ready for this mile and a quarter journey.
  • Gunnevera (10), another closer will really relish the added ground.  Again, he will need pace up front to run down the leaders, but this colt has a lot of talent and the long stretch at Churchill Downs will really help his style.
  • Long shots Battle of Midway (11), J Boys Echo (13) and Hence (8) have the ability to spoil the exacta and Trifecta.

And that leaves us with Classic Empire (14), who is most likely the best three year old out there when at his best. But, he is the favorite and his head can get in the way of his talent occasionally, so it’s hard to bet him for that reason. Having said that, he’s probably the best chance for a Triple Crown winner in the group this year and he’s owned by one of the greatest guys in racing, John Oxley.

Good luck and happy Derby!

In case you missed it, Hunter Rankin, President of Sagamore Racing, and Brian Treacy, President of Sagamore Spirit, talked more about the Kentucky Derby and Mint Juleps during our latest episode of Fast Horses, Slow Whiskey. Hall of Fame Jockey Gary Stevens and trainer Graham Motion joined us to preview the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown! Learn more here.

You can find more info on Derby Day coverage here and on all of the contenders here.

Don’t forget to tune in to NBC to watch our very own Miss Temple City in the G2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile Stakes at 1:55pm on Derby Day!