Using parameters from The Lazy Bettor’s Guide to the Kentucky Derby, we see the following horses as legitimate Derby prospects. Of course, when wagering in Futures pools many weeks in advance of the Derby, bettors need to focus on value. We suggest backing one or more of the horses in our list only at odds of 40-1 or higher.
The “All Other Three Year Olds” option stands as an exception to the 40-1 odds requirement. We discuss that option at the end of the list.
How effective are the methods detailed in The Lazy Bettor’s Guide to the Kentucky Derby?
We’ve accumulated a record of 5 Kentucky Derby winners in the 9 years since the book was published in late 2013. (Check the “Kentucky Derby” section to see our past Derby previews.) If that sounds too good to be true, click over to the Predict-O-Meters that log our success in analyzing Derby prep races. We’ve selected 5 winners in 8 Derby preps this year, which puts us on pace to surpass last year’s success rate of 8 winners in 18 races.
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Lazy Bettor Guides Legit Kentucky Derby Prospects in Futures Pool 4 (with odds entering final day of wagering)
#3 Banishing (26-1). This son of Ghostzapper barely makes our list. He blasted MSW rivals at the Fair Grounds in his second start, showing above-average early speed. However, the Brendan Walsh trainee was scratched from the January 21 Lecomte Stakes and didn’t work again until February 5. The 5-furlong bullet suggests there’s no major problems with him, but we see greater risk backing him than wagering on others in this list.
#12 First Defender (94-1). He crackled through an opening quarter mile in :21.2 seconds when winning his debut in a 6-furlong sprint at the Fair Grounds. The son of Quality Road obviously inherited his daddy’s flashy early speed. With A. P. Indy as the dam sire and Steve Asmussen training him, he seems to have lots of upside. The lack of experience is a concern, but the odds are enticing.
#17 Geaux Rocket Ride (19-1). He’s another debut winner with exceptional early speed. This Richard Mandella trained son of Candy Ride seems behind schedule, though, as he didn’t debut until January 29 in a sprint. With his odds showing at less than 20-1, you don’t get much compensation for that shortcoming.
#28 Mage (34-1). His debut win on January 28 at Gulfstream was a gate-to-wire score at 7 furlongs in fast time. With Good Magic producing stakes winners at an impressive rate, Mage’s future looks bright. He’s another colt getting a late start, though, so pass on him unless you get higher odds than currentlyshowing.
#35 Tapit Trice (13-1). This $1.3 million son of Tapit started his year with a dominating optional claiming win at Gulfstream in a 1-turn mile. The winning time and speed figure were above average, and he certainly looks improved from his decent 2-race campaign last year.
#36 Tapit’s Conquest (56-1). The son of Tapit makes our list as one of few prospects in this pool with both above-average early speed and adequate experience. After winning his second start, in a two-turn event at Churchill Downs, he was given a break. His return in an optional claimer at Fair Grounds was better than it looks on paper. While closing into a slow pace, he was repeatedly blocked along the rail while trying to pass the pace-setting winner. This Brad Cox trainee had plenty of run when finally clear near the wire. With a clean trip, he would’ve posted a win in faster time than the Grade 3 Lecomte winner Instant Coffee.
#38 Verifying (37-1). He seems to be faster than his more accomplished stablemates in the Brad Cox shed row. His struggles against top stakes horses last year leave us leery of him as he gets ready to move back into graded stakes company off an impressive allowance win. But there’s a good chance this $775,000 son of Justify has finally matured, and 40-1 would persuade us to set our doubts aside.
#40 All Other Three Year Olds (7-2). This option includes, among others, the brilliant Arabian Knight and all other Bob Baffert trainees. The number and quality of runners in this category are better than usual. Just like last year, Baffert’s best horses will be transferred to other trainers if he remains banned from competing at Churchill Downs.
In particular, Arabian Knight deserves attention. Not since he prepared Justify for his Triple Crown campaign have we seen Baffert exude such confidence. If the odds remain above 3-1 for this group, we recommend a large wager. For your money, you’ll likely get the top 3-year-old in training (Arabian Knight) and up to a half-dozen other horses that’ll make it into the Derby starting gate.
Lazy Bettor Guides Overrated Kentucky Derby Prospects
The Lazy Bettor’s Guide to the Kentucky Derby also excels at identifying Derby imposters. In years past, we’ve confidently eliminated many highly regarded prospects from consideration. Our imposters list includes Kentucky Derby disappointments such as Verrazano, Union Rags, Essential Quality, Uncle Mo and many other horses that were heavily bet in Futures pools and on Derby day.
In this pool, we see vulnerabilities that make the following stakes winners unlikely to reach the winner’s circle in the Kentucky Derby:
- Hoosier Philly 7-1 (current favorite other than #40 All Other)
- Forte 8-1 (current 2nd choice other than #40 All Other)
- Instant Coffee 18-1 (current 4th choice other than #40)
With the betting public leaning mostly in the wrong direction, we see a better than usual opportunity to find value when wagering into this pool.