Roger LeBlanc for LazyBettorUSA.com
Betting on Kentucky Derby prep races? Looking for value in Derby futures pools? Set your phasers to stun, as Star Trek’s Captain Kirk used to say. Horses with top early speed often make slow-starting horses look frozen still.
That reality is the foundation of handicapping methods in The Lazy Bettor’s Guide to the Kentucky Derby. And the LazyBettorUSA Kwik 6 list flows from that well-researched, highly successful approach.
From the perspective of our Derby guide, here are the current top Derby prospects:
- Slow Down Andy. Doug O’Neill’s top prospect this year pressed other speedsters through fast early fractions in two sprints. He then showed patience and maturity while grinding down a talented Bob Baffert prospect to win the Grade 2 Los Alamitos Futurity at a mile and a sixteenth. This son of Nyquist tops the Kwik 6 list based on his speed, connections and accomplishments to date.
- Simplification. He blew the start in the Holy Bull Stakes, but he’s done little wrong otherwise. When Simplification puts his act together he absolutely dominates his competition. We witnessed his tremendous turn of foot in his 16-length maiden win, his widening 4-length win in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes and his sustained burst from far back to gain second in the Holy Bull.
- Emmanuel. Todd Pletcher’s lightly raced prospect made his 2022 return a winning one. After a runaway maiden score last year in fast time, he easily handled allowance horses at Tampa Bay. His lack of racing against stakes winners looms as a big question mark, but Emmanuel shows many signs of being stakes quality: a quick rise through the conditions, above-average early speed, total domination over competitors, a quality pedigree and topnotch connections.
- Epicenter. I’m not sure why Joel Rosario pushed him hard to the lead in the Lecomte Stakes ahead of a few weak-willed sprinters. What’s certain is that the sizzling early fractions left Epicenter too winded in late stretch to hold off late-rallying Call Me Midnight. His dominating wins last year at Churchill Downs and the Fair Grounds placed him solidly in the top tier of Derby prospects. If trainer Steve Asmussen adds some degree of ratability to Epicenter’s skill set, this horse should snatch a graded-stakes win or two along the Derby trail.
- Classic Causeway. After winning his debut leading gate to wire, this son of Giant’s Causeway stormed to the lead from post 13 in the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland last October. He faded late in that race, his first two-turn effort. Next time out in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill, he rated kindly in midpack, but was outfinished by Smile Happy. Trainer Brian Lynch has been working him out long and strong at Palm Beach Downs in preparation for his 2022 return to racing. Classic Causeway proved he can joust with top prospects for three-quarters of a route race, now he must prove he can put them away in the late stages.
- Major General. If you like heart attacks, you might want to bet some futures money on this guy. He won his debut at Saratoga by a neck after being pressured on the lead the entire race. He stretched to 8.5 furlongs for the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill and again won by a neck, this time rallying from off the pace. Major General is speedy, versatile, as game as they get, undefeated and trained by Todd Pletcher. The only other thing a lazy bettor could ask for in a Kentucky Derby hopeful is a little less drama.
Be sure to check LazyBettorUSA for our updated Kwik 6 lists all through the prep season.