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Whether you like one of the top contenders or a long shot, Saturday’s Kentucky Derby promises to offer plenty of solid betting options.

Blue Grass winner Zandon (3-1 odds) and Louisiana Derby winner Epicenter (7-2 odds) are the top choices in the morning line released Monday. But there certainly are several other intriguing options in a race considered “wide-open” by many.

With that in mind, The Courier Journal offers its annual breakdown of why each horse can and can’t win the Kentucky Derby – many serious, a few tongue in cheek, one destined to be right and a bunch more destined to be wrong.

Click on each horse’s name to learn more and watch a video of his last prep race.

Why he can win: Brisnet Speed Figures loved his Wood Memorial victory, giving it a 111 figure that matches the best of any horse in the field. Closer should love the 1 ¼-mile distance.

Why he can’t win: The No. 1 post hasn’t been kind of late, with Ferdinand in 1986 the last winner from there. A new starting gate that made its debut in 2020 was meant to keep the No. 1 horse from getting squeezed at the rail, but owners and trainers still would prefer to avoid the spot.

Why he can win: Trainer Doug O’Neill has won the Kentucky Derby twice, so he knows how to get it done.

Why he can’t win: Happy Jack – which has lost his past three races by a combined 49 lengths – is not I’ll Have Another or Nyquist.

Why he can win: He’s improved in his last three races and showed some versatility in laying off the pace and then winning the Louisiana Derby. Many thought he’d be the morning-line favorite. A horse bred in Bowling Green – ravaged by tornadoes last December – seems like a feel-good story.



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