Our best longshots for the 2016 Kentucky Derby
No shortage of options when you look beyond the favorites in Saturday's Kentucky Derby (G1), but two of our team are on the same page.
James Scully: A multiple stakes winner, Suddenbreakingnews possesses a formidable late kick and appears to be moving forward off a good second in the Arkansas Derby (G1). And he’s made a good impression training over the track since arriving at Churchill Downs. The long-striding gelding figures to appreciate the added ground and if he gets a clean trip, Suddenbreakingnews has a chance to come flying in the stretch. He’s one to consider for the top 3 at long odds (20-1 morning line).
Jennifer Caldwell: This year’s Kentucky Derby is a tough one for me, because I actually have three horses I’ll be rooting for. In addition to Nyquist I’m also a fan of both Destin and Lani. I fell for Destin when he won the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs in mid-February and was cheering him on all the way in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) next out on March 12. The gray son of Giant’s Causeway didn’t let me down with a one-length victory that day. Destin is the kind of colt that gets overlooked in the Kentucky Derby field, but I believe those who count him out do so at their own peril.
Lani faces the tough task of making his first North American start in the Kentucky Derby, but proved himself worthy of the Run for the Roses when traveling from Japan to Dubai to take the U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) on March 26. The Japanese-based runner arrived in early April at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby and has displayed the same attitude and spirit that drew me to Tiznow eons ago. The Tapit colt has a long way to go to fill those horseshoes, but does have an entire nation rooting for him and could bring a Kentucky Derby trophy home to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Vance Hanson: Last month's Blue Grass (G1) was one of the slower Derby preps, but I thought the lightly-raced My Man Sam still ran a huge race to be second. Forced to start from post 14 and thus taken back farther than his connections would have liked, the Chad Brown trainee was forced to make an eight-wide rally at the quarter pole. In contrast, the winning Brody's Cause got an earlier jump being about two lengths ahead and in the six path at the same point in the race. From a BRIS Speed rating perspective, My Man Sam earned a 92 for that effort, but showed in a prior allowance try he can produce when earning a 100 rating in a second-place effort at Aqueduct. With just four career starts behind him, My Man Sam has plenty of upside and is seemingly flying in well under the radar.
Kellie Reilly: In most years, a lot of Derby longshots are deadwood, and you can zero in on a couple of live outsiders. Not for Derby 142, which presents a picture of parity – at least going in. Since Gun Runner is my top selection, logically I should put in a good word for Mo Tom. Yet Suddenbreakingnews has also had a hard luck story or two at Oaklawn, and I just love how he gets over the ground. A May 2 foal with a sizeable frame, this well-bred Mineshaft gelding is still developing, and he’s actually been gaining weight recently, trainer Donnie Von Hemel revealed. Judging by the way he blew away Whitmore in the Southwest (G3), before getting stopped on the far turn of the Rebel (G2), and hitting top gear too late in the Arkansas Derby (G1), Suddenbreakingnews isn’t that far away from a major breakthrough. Stepping up to the Derby’s 1 1/4 miles, and having a longer stretch at Churchill than Oaklawn, should suit him perfectly. As with any deep closer, he will need a rollicking pace, and with Danzing Candy having to gun it from post 20, the tempo might be livelier than first thought on paper. Suddenbreakingnews also needs a clean passage. But the addition of a shadow roll could help the kind of trip he works out. Suddenbreakingnews has been catching the eye of work watchers at Churchill Downs too.