The last three Kentucky Derby winners have left the starting gate at odds of 5-2 or less but this year’s winner is virtually guaranteed to return a better mutuel with four horses poised to compete for favoritism in Always Dreaming, Classic Empire, Irish War Cry and McCraken.
Plenty of rain fell Thursday/Friday but there’s still a chance for a “fast” track if the precipitation lets up by Friday evening, with the Churchill Downs main track draining extremely well.
Always Dreaming recorded the most impressive performance of the spring in my estimation, finishing full of run as he drew away to a 5-length decision under wraps in the Florida Derby, and his 102 BRIS Speed rating is one of the best figures in the field. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt was making his stakes debut last time and I envision him having more to offer on Saturday.
He’s got to settle in the early stages, with his trainer being forced to add draw reigns for morning training sessions in order to keep the dark bay colt’s head down, but Always Dreaming didn’t need the equipment when recording a sensational 5-furlong bullet drill over the main track at Churchill Downs last weekend and has been an ideal pupil in the afternoons in three starts this season.
His behavior remains a concern given the extreme environment in the paddock and post parade on Derby Day, but the Bodemeister colt remains the most likely winner if able to maintain his composure. I’ll stick with Always Dreaming and expect him to be on or very close to the lead from the start with no need-the-lead types in the 20-horse field.
Always Dreaming (#5) is a win play and I’ll use the following horses underneath in exotics (in order of preference): #19 Practical Joke, #15 McCraken, #14 Classic Empire, #16 Tapwrit, #6 State of Honor, #8 Hence and #17 Irish War Cry.
Wagers – $100 Bankroll
$40 win 5
$5 exactas: 5 over 14,15,19 ($15)
$2 exactas: 5 over 6,8,16,17 ($8)
$1 trifecta: 5 over 14,15,19 over 6,8,14,15,16,17,19 ($18)
$1 trifecta: 5 over 6,8,14,15,16,17,19 over 14,15,19 ($18)
Good luck on the Kentucky Derby!