Our best longshots for the 2015 Kentucky Derby
In addition to our top selections, the team has pegged a few outsiders worth a look...
James Scully: Danzig Moon is a rapidly-improving sophomore who has trained forwardly in preparation at Churchill Downs – he is my favorite longshot in the 2015 Kentucky Derby. A fast-closing runner-up when making his second start at Churchill Downs in late October, the Mark Casse-trained colt opened his 2015 season with a sharp 4 3/4-length maiden score at Gulfstream Park on February 7. He never appeared comfortable making his stakes debut in the Tampa Bay Derby, exiting a fourth-place finish with cuts on both hind legs, but continued his forward ascension with a rallying second in the Blue Grass, 2 1.2 lengths clear of third. Danzig Moon possesses a fantastic pedigree for the 1 1/4-mile distance and his late running style could be a perfect fit. He’s a key horse underneath in my vertical exotics.
Jennifer Caldwell: I’m going with a real longshot in the Derby and tabbing Tencendur, who was installed at 30-1 on the morning line but drifted up to 68-1 in early wagering on Friday. The bay colt was right there with Frosted in the Wood Memorial S. (G1) last out, holding the lead in the stretch before passed by that rival yards from the wire. The improving George Weaver trainee earned a stellar 105 BRIS Speed rating for his effort on that day, and burned up the track at both Belmont Park (4f, :47) and Churchill Downs (5f, 1:00) when posting bullets in his last pair of moves to ready for the Derby. Tencendur is a major longshot, but he could also be peaking at just the right time.
Vance Hanson: The Bob Baffert-trained duo of American Pharoah and Dortmund will take so much money on Saturday that horses who would look like serious contenders any other year will be sent away at double-digit odds. If you are absolutely of the mindset that neither of the favorites is invincible, Frosted might be one to watch out for. A gray son of leading sire Tapit, Frosted’s endured some troubled trips in defeat (the Remsen at Aqueduct and Holy Bull at Gulfstream) and inexplicably gave up a commanding lead in the Fountain of Youth two back. Whatever the problem was (possibly breathing related), it was corrected in time for him to score a two-length victory in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Frosted enters the Derby at the peak of his powers, does not have to improve leaps and bounds to win, and does have a bit of karma on his side. Godolphin has been trying for years to win the Kentucky Derby -- often prepping their best three-year-olds in Dubai -- all to no avail. Having kept this colt in the U.S. through the winter, he might represent one of their best opportunities. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, a Kentucky native, is no stranger to winning big races (e.g. 2006 Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic), and would be a great story if he should win his home state’s most prestigious event. It doesn’t seem farfetched, and at odds in the 10-1 to 15-1 range it could be a steal.
Kellie Reilly: Elite contenders American Pharoah, Dortmund and Carpe Diem have looked utterly dominant in their respective preps, so it would be a surprise if the Derby winner isn't on that short list -- and an even bigger surprise if one of their past victims can turn the tables. For that reason, I'm going much further afield for my longshot pick, U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) romper Mubtaahij. That's not to minimize the tall task that he faces, a potentially insuperable series of obstacles ranging from his trek from Dubai, the change from open-air stabling to the confines of a barn, the mandated change in his feeding program (his normal feed isn't on the FDA-approved list), and a trial by fire versus an exceptional cast in an above-average Derby. Yet Mubtaahij is not lacking in credentials. Trained by the masterful South African Mike de Kock, who has expertise in plundering prizes all over the world, Mubtaahij is not here on a whim or a lark. The ever-forthright de Kock has explained that he wouldn't have come if he'd just won the U.A.E. Derby by a length or two; it was his smashing eight-length romp that earned his way to Churchill. The son of Dubawi enjoyed a perfect trip sitting behind the stiff pace, tipped out, and inhaled them with a superior turn of foot. While these foes won't be so readily dismissed, Mubtaahij figures to carve out another good trip and pick up strongly late. The distance holds no fears for him, as a two-time winner over 1 3/16 miles in both the U.A.E. Derby and Al Bastakiya. Four-for-five on dirt, Mubtaahij is a scant head away from being a U.A.E. Triple Crown winner.
Ed DeRosa: I picked American Pharoah to win the Kentucky Derby, but I respect undefeated Dortmund as well. However, the chances that a chalk exacta comes in is slim, so finding a "longshot" (even a $30 horse could be OK) to play with one of the Bafferts is the key to my wagering strategy. American Pharoah and Dortmund will both be bet enough that it will be tough to make money if you use too many horses underneath, so I’m leaning on TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial Stakes winner Frosted and Santa Anita Derby third-place finisher Bolo as my keys. Frosted looked like a world beater in the Fountain of Youth before backing out of it in the stretch and finishing fourth, but he rebounded in the Wood. If he had won the Fountain of Youth like he looked like he would then returned with that Wood performance he’d probably be the third choice in here. Instead, you’ll get at least 10-to-1 on a horse with real talent. Bolo has been no match for Dortmund last two out, but at 8x the price of that foe, I’ll happily gamble that he can get in the number and maybe improve stretching out on a track he has seemed to like this week.