Some of you like betting big on tight odds, while others prefer the ultimate risk in banking on a horse who has no business placing in the top-three at a big race. That’s the beauty of thoroughbred wagering – there’s something for everyone. Below I’ve listed the four best longshot bets at the Kentucky Derby. Just note that odds are subject to change as we inch closer and closer to the May7th extravaganza.
Danzing Candy (25/1) – When it comes to odds, this is about as small as I get when qualifying the best longshot bets to win the Kentucky Derby. Danzing Candy is a freaking bullet that emerged on the scene thanks to a blazing fast performance at the San Felipe Stakes, a race he led from the start and never relinquished. Unfortunately, he couldn’t produce a repeat performance at the muddy Santa Anita Derby and actually looked surprised and disheartened as others passed him.
Danzing Candy will run from one of the inside posts next weekend, and his team has already stated that he will likely go for the lead and try and hold it. That’s a monumental ask of any horse, especially in a field that possesses so many apt stalkers. Experience is the biggest reason to shade Danzing Candy, but there’s also a chance he’s learned from what happened at the Santa Anita Derby. The slippy conditions certainly worked against him at that race, and a faster track at Churchill Downs certainly plays in his favor. I’m not necessarily brave enough to lob a sizeable play at this horse to win, but I’m definitely excited to see what he’s capable of against the best of the three-year class.
Lani (33/1) – It’s a cinematic stereotype to have a foreigner from a distant, Asian land emerge as a mystery but that’s exactly the narrative that surrounds Lani. Born in Kentucky and purchased by owner Yoko Maeda, Lani was shipped to Japan to begin his training. Yutaka Take has been in the mount for Lani during his career, and Japan could not deliver a better jockey. Take remains the country’s finest and has ridden at the Kentucky Derby before.
Old school horse bettors will like Lani for a few reasons. He clocked a a strong 1:53.66 at the UAE Derby in Dubai to earn a berth in the Run for the Roses, and one of the reasons he serves as one of the best longshot bets at the Kentucky Derby is because he is a son of Tapit. The main deterrent? Lani has not competed all that much. The travel from Japan to Kentucky essentially vacuumed any lead time to squeeze in another race.
The oddsmakers aren’t’ terribly sure what to do with the horse. He rates well, is peaking at the right time, has a surefire pedigree and has a champion rider in the saddle.
Whitemore (33/1) – A constant bridesmaid and never a bride, Whitmore has yet to win a stakes race. He’s placed third at the Arkansas Derby and notched two second place finishes at the Rebel Stakes and Southwest Stakes. That’s the bad part. The good part is that Victor Espinoza will be in his saddle for the Kentucky Derby thanks to a strange turn of events.
Espinoza, who has won the last two Kentucky Derby’s, was overseas for much of the prep season riding California Chrome to a Dubai World Cup victory. Fortunately (depending on how you look at it), Whitemore’s normal rider had committed to My Man Sam and trainer Chad Brown so a spot opened up. Is that enough to make Whitmore one of the best longshot bets at the Kentucky Derby this year? Espinoza has won this race four times. You tell me.
Tom’s Ready (50/1) – If you’re looking for one of the craziest trends in Kentucky Derby betting, then look no further. Trainer Dallas Stewart has guided two 50/1 fliers to second place finishes. Golden Soul achieved the feat first in 2013, while Commanding Curve repeated the same effort in 2014. Both finished behind the presumed favorites.
Tom’s Ready has already placed second at the Louisiana Derby behind Gun Runner, but he’s also finished 7th at the Risen Star Stakes. That’s why his odds are so enormous. Still, few bets will be as tempting as this one. I don’t believe Tom’s Ready remains one of the best longshot bets at the Kentucky Derby to win outright, but I love him to place. This is an important distinction. If you want to hedge even further, lob a standalone with his odds to show. If you’re brazen, he’s a terrific exacta pair with Nyquist.