Don’t Waste Your Money on these Kentucky Derby Longshots
Last week, we highlighted five horses to put on your Kentucky Derby tickets. This week, we flip the script, warning you about five horses you don’t want on your tickets.
Admit it. You’re still fuming about Rich Strike’s improbable smash-and-grab at 80-1 that destroyed your Kentucky Derby tickets last year. You constructed your Derby tickets specifically excluding horses with subpar speed figures who showed no discernable ability to go 1 ¼ miles with any kind of speed.
And you have every reason to fume. Because a fundamental component of handicapping a 20-horse Kentucky Derby is culling the herd—eliminating the horses who have little chance of hitting the board. By every conceivable measure, Rich Strike fit that category last year.
Until he didn’t.
Rich Strike’s Derby thievery aside, that doesn’t always mean the culled herd are the longest shots on the board. Last year, Simplification went off at 35-1. He finished a strong fourth.
But Simplification was an overlay. He showed enough tactical speed in top-shelf Derby preps to outrun those odds. And he did.
Constructing your tickets begins with eliminating the horses who simply aren’t fast enough to win a 10-furlong, 20-horse free-for-all.
Here are five horses you want to avoid, along with their Caesars future board odds. Those odds are in play until Monday’s post draw, which you want to pay attention to for one reason seen below.
Longshots Rarely Pay Off
With a hat-tip to the late John Vernon, who played Dean Vernon Wormer in “Animal House,” slow, gelded and the likely longest shot in the field is no way to win a Derby. Wild On Ice, who is 70-1, won the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby in New Mexico at 35-1 with a 77 Beyer Speed Figure that frightens exactly nobody, especially since 27 of the last 31 cashable winners carded at least a 95 Beyer going into the Churchill Downs gate. His 13.7-second final eighth in that race is the slowest in the field, as is his 40.5-second final three furlongs.
The runner-up in that race, the aptly named Low Expectations, finished eighth in the Santa Anita Derby—by 56 lengths. Oh, did we mention that in his two previous stakes route races at Sunland, Wild On Ice finished third and ninth—by a combined 45 ½ lengths. Then, there’s that “ultimate equipment change.” Only two geldings have won the Derby this century: Mine that Bird (2009) and Funny Cide (2003). Before that, you have to go back to Clyde Van Dusen in 1929. Pass.
Raise Cain (42-1): This Violence colt announced himself as a Derby contender with his 7 ½-length dismantling of the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct—complete with a career-best 90 Beyer. Now, we’ve chronicled Raise Cain’s high-water mark on the Derby trail—appropriate, considering that Gotham win came on a muddy, sealed track over one turn. When asked to go two turns, Raise Cain announced he isn’t a Derby contender, going 0-for-3 by a combined 19 ¾ lengths. That included his 6 ¾-length fifth in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, where he didn’t threaten the top-two finishers: Tapit Trice and Verifying. He won’t seriously threaten them in the Derby either.
Lord Miles (40-1): Another freak-show stakes winner with slow speed figures. This Curlin colt emerged from a three-way photo to win the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at 59-1. That came with a 93 Beyer at the expense of favorite Hit Show, a much more likely board-hitting candidate on Derby Saturday. And not that the Wood Memorial is a race to hang your Derby hopes on. The last Derby winner coming out of the Wood was Fusaichi Pegasus—in 2000. This is the Derby prep that favors closers, countering the current Derby’s preference for front-end speed and stalkers. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. told Thoroughbred Daily News that “his race in the Wood isn’t going to be good enough to win the Derby.” Who are we to argue?
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Avoid Foreign Horses
Continuar (85-1): We’re not going to spend a lot of time on this Japanese horse who earned an automatic berth by amassing 40 points on the Japanese Road to the Derby, other than to say he’s not remotely the brightest contender from the land of the Rising Sun. Not after losing by 10 lengths to fellow Japanese colt Derma Sotogake in the U.A.E. Derby. His best TimeformUS speed figure is a 90. There aren’t Beyers available for foreign horses. That’s six points lower than the next slowest—our friend Wild On Ice. If you think a Japanese horse is finally going to win the Derby—and we don’t this year—Derma Sotogake is your horse.
Whatever horse draws Post 17: You always hear about horses drawing the dreaded rail. And yes, there hasn’t been a rail horse win the Derby since Ferdinand in 1986. Last year, Todd Pletcher’s Mo Donegal was considered a legitimate Derby threat—until he drew the rail. He finished a strong fifth. Five weeks later, he won the Belmont Stakes.
But eight horses have won the Derby from Post 1, which is eight more than we’ve seen from Post 17. Horses starting from that post are 0-for-42. Almost as bad, they’re 3-for-42 hitting the board. Post 17 is the only post never sending a horse to the winner’s circle. This could be the proverbial draw O’ death to any of the five horses we were bullish on last week.
By contrast two horses have won from Post 20, the far outside: Big Brown in 2008 and the aforementioned Rich Strike last year. One wore roses from Post 19: I’ll Have Another in 2012.
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