best longshots at the kentucky derby

Best Longshot Bets At The Kentucky Derby

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.


Churchill Downs Busy Spot for Final Derby Workouts

This weekend was targeted by many trainers preparing their horses for the upcoming Kentucky Derby (gr. I) on May 7th to be their final workout before the big show. However, potential rain in the forecast put a damper on those plans, and trainers instead opted to get their workouts at Churchill Downs in today.

Below you can view each horse’s fractional splits and gallop times from today:

Destin — five furlongs — :12 3/5, :24 4/5, :37 2/5, :49 3/5 — six furlongs galloped in a time of 1:14 1/5, seven furlongs in a time of 1:27.

Discreetness — five furlongs — :11 4/5, :23 3/5, :35 4/5, :47 4/5 — six furlongs galloped in a time of 1:15 1/5.

Fellowship — four furlongs — :12 1/5, :23 3/5, :35 — five furlongs galloped in a time of 1:00.

Majesto — five furlongs — 12 4/5, :24 4/5, :36 4/5 — six furlongs galloped in a time of 1:!5, seven furlongs in a time of 1:28 3/5.

Mohaymen — four furlongs — :12 3/5, :23 4/5, :35 2/5 — galloped five furlongs in a time of 1:00 4/5.

Mo Tom — four furlongs — :12 1/5, :24 2/5, :36 3/5 — galloped five furlongs in a time of 1:02 1/5, six furlongs in a time of 1:15 2/5.

My Man Sam — four furlongs — :13, :25 3/5, :37 4/5 — galloped five furlongs in a time of 1:02 1/5, six furlongs in a time of 1:14 4/5.

Outwork — five furlongs — 13 1/5, :37 2/5 — galloped six furlongs in a time of 1:00 1/5.

Tom’s Ready — five furlongs — :23 4/5, :36 — galloped six furlongs in at time of 1:3 1/5, seven furlongs in a time of 1:27 1/5.

Whitmore — five furlongs — :12 2/5, :24, :35 3/5, :48 — galloped six furlongs in a time of 1:14.

Exaggerator winning the Santa Anita Derby

Exaggerator Getting Padded By Oddsmakers?

As strange as it may seem, Exaggerator has now become a second favorite on some boards in the industry. It’s a curious turn of events for the Santa Anita Derby winner who was last seen in official Kentucky Derby Futures Wagering as a 27/1 longshot to compete for the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs. He is now appearing at 8/1 just three weeks after his biggest victory. Could the oddsmakers be on to something?

Exaggerator has been making the news for various reason this week, creating a mild stream of information that has kept him in the spotlight for a bit. Most notably, WinStar Farm purchased the breeding rights for the three-year old colt from Big Chief Racing this week. He has also been flown in from Santa Anita this week to begin training at Churchill Downs like many in the field. A sudden investment in a horse from a breeder isn’t a huge tipping point. If anything, that’s commonplace at this time of year.

Perhaps the biggest bit of news circulating around Exaggerator is his speed rating. For those unaware, the Beyer Speed Figure (like the BRIS Speed Rating) is a standardized evaluation of a horse’s pace. It’s a computer generated number that allows us to compare horses from different races to a certain extent. They are not the be all and end all of racing unless horses are hitting numbers of 115+, which nobody in the three-year old crop has this year. American Pharoah had a Beyer Speed Figure of 120 at the Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2015.

Exaggerator has posted the highest Beyer Speed Figure at 103 this year, and was an absolute bullet on a wet track at the Santa Anita Derby. He covered the 1 1/8th mile in 1:49.66. Compare that to Nyquist’s time of 1:49.11 in optimal conditions over the same distance at the Florida Derby and you have a simple justification for why Exaggerator’s number has dropped by over four times since the KDFW closed its final pool window earlier this month.

It seems like a very sudden reaction to the Santa Anita Derby winner, but a well justified one. Exaggerator showed rocket-like closing speed at the sloppy race and perhaps boasts the only proven homestretch velocity that can contend with the world-class Nyquist. Often times, oddsmakers will insulate themselves from a threat by reducing the odds of a commodity in a given market. I’m not thoroughly convinced that bettors should overreact the same way that bookies have.

Exaggerator now sits right between Nyquist at 3/1 and Mohaymen who has floated between 8/1 and 10/1 in the lead up to the Kentucky Derby.

If you haven’t seen Exaggerator’s other worldly performance at the Santa Anita Derby, take two minutes and treat yourself below and decide for yourself where this horse belongs in the field of Triple Crown contenders.

Kentucky Derby Closers To Watch

Closers to Watch for Preakness Potential

While the Kentucky Derby is a most coveted race, racing fans and bettors may learn something more by watching the May 7 Derby in advance of the May 21 Preakness Stakes.

Some of the horses in the Derby will make their way to Pimlico two weeks later, and there will be value to be found in some of the closers that may not fire as expected or get caught in traffic in the large 20 horse field.

Here are some thoughts on the horses that are ‘closers’ in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Note the Derby is an added distance for nearly all these horses who will have to come from behind to win the 1 ¼ mile race. Watch them along with race recaps, videos and footnotes to see what can be learned leading up to the 1 3/16 mile Preakness Stakes.

We’ll provide this in 2-3 parts covering three closers here.

Brody’s Cause went from maiden winner at 33-1 odds straight to the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Futurity (G1) and tracked down Exaggerator in the final furlong to win last fall. He came from deep in the pack to rally and win. Earlier this month he won the Toyota Blue Grass (G1) again making up over eight lengths in the final quarter mile to win. The Giant’s Causeway colt will need a fast Derby pace and be able to work his way through many horses to make his Run for the Roses.

Creator took six races to break his maiden, but has shown rapid improvement in winning two of his last three races including the Arkansas Derby last time out. His Beyer Figures have gone from 80 to 90 to the 96 he was assigned in his Arkansas Derby score. But the race fell apart following blistering early fractions and while Creator made up 10 lengths from the three quarter pole, the final three-eighths of the Arkansas Derby was run in a slow 39.53 seconds. This Tapit Colt is still not on the talent level with some of the top Derby horses and closers and the added Derby distance is likely to work against him.

Exaggerator is a Curlin colt who exploded around the far turn into the stretch and won the Santa Anita Derby going away by over six lengths. That race was one of the stronger 100-point Derby preps, and he’s improving with a strong foundation of traveling and facing good horses. He’s won on a number of different tracks including twice in the slop and mud. Exaggerator is one of the most experienced 3-year olds with nine starts including four wins. He may try to be closer to the mid-pack than far back in the Derby, but he has the speed and versatility to make a run having registered a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 in the Santa Anita Derby which was the highest of all the Derby preps. Exaggerator finished 1 1/2 lengths behind Nyquist in the San Vicente Stakes February 15, but that was 7/8 of a mile and the three additional furlongs will be to his benefit. Exaggerator will be a top-3 betting choice in the Kentucky Derby and clearly a closer to watch.

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners Acquires Stake in Destin

A minority interest stake in Destin has been sold by Twin Creeks Racing Stables to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners. No official financial numbers have been released yet. He was purchased by Twin Creaks in the 2014 Keeneland September yearling sale for $400,00.

Destin is currently in the midst of preparing for the Kentucky Derby, and has a final work at Churchill Downs scheduled for April 30th.

His last workout session under the supervision of trainer Todd Pletcher on April 23 clocked Destin’s five-furlong work in at a time of 1:01 1/5.

“We are excited to partner with Aron (Wellman) and Brian (Spearman) and their racing partners on Destin,” said Randy Gullat (Twin Creeks Racing Stables). “Twin Creeks and Eclipse have both been in the same barn with Todd (Pletcher) for a long time, so there is familiarity and a comfort level working with Eclipse. I have great confidence it will be a good team, and we’re all now just looking forward to the Kentucky Derby.”

“We are honored to team up with Randy (Gullatt) and Steve (Davison) of Twin Creeks to partner on Destin,” said Eclipse president Aron Wellman. “The Twin Creeks team and Todd have done an exceptional job of developing and managing Destin. He has exhibited brilliance in his pair of graded stakes wins, and Destin is a fast and progressive colt.

“We are certainly bullish on his prospects for the Kentucky Derby, but equally as excited about the long-term vision we share with Twin Creeks for Destin’s racing future. We are proud to be associated with a colt of this caliber.”

Destin has 51 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, which is the 11th-most.

Rachel Alexandra

Rachel Alexendra, Zenyatta Bound for HOF

Former Preakness Stakes winner Rachel Alexandra will be inducted in to the National Museum’s Hall of Fame this year. Joining her will be another legendary mare in Zenyatta. Trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ramon Dominguez will also be honoured.

Rachel Alexandra holds a lifetime record of 13-5-0 in 19 races. Her wins include the aforementioned Preakness Stakes, Haskell Invitational, Kentucky Oaks and the Woodward Stakes. She was well regarded for routinely running against the boys and beating them at big races. In 2009, she was awarded the American Horse of the Year.

In this season, she also has a daughter running in the three-year old campaign named Rachel’s Valentina who was sired by former Preakness Stakes winner Bernardini. Rachel’s Valentina is the new favorite to win the 2016 Kentucky Oaks now that Songbird has bowed out.

Zenyatta is the consensus pick as the greatest female horse of all time. Her crowning achievement was a win at the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic. With a lifetime record of 19-1-0 in 20 races, Zenyatta’s only loss was a the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race she lost to Blame. Other distinctions for the champion female include a statue outside Santa Anita Racecourse, three American Champion Female Racehorse awards (2008-2010), and American Horse of the Year (2010). In the history of this sport, there simply has been none better on the female side of thoroughbred racing.

Steven Asmussen is a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer (2009 and 2010). He has won two Preakness Stakes with Rachel Alexandra and Curlin, and has grossed over $251 million in career earnings. Asmussen also boasts 7,287 wins in his illustrious career. In the 2016 Triple Crown season, he is submitting Creator and Gun Runner, the latter of which has an outside shot of winning the Kentucky Derby after stunning wins at the Risen Star and Louisiana Derby.

Ramon Dominguez owns 44 graded stakes victories, and led all jockeys in wins during the 2001 and 2003  seasons. He was the overall leading rider from 2009-2012 in the state of New York as well. He is also a three time winner of the Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Jockey, earning the distinction in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Stanford Wins Charles Town Classic

Stanford Goes Gate to Wire to Win Charles Town Classic

Stanford added to his riches Saturday with a $700,000 score in winning the $1.25 million Charles Town Classic. Ridden to victory by Javier Castellano and trained by Todd Pletcher, Stanford now has career earnings over $1.15 million.

“Fantastic trip,” said Pletcher.  “He broke very well and got to the position we hoped for going to the first turn. He was on cruise control from there.”

Stanford broke sharply from the #7 post in the field of 10 with Page McKenney at here hip.  Those two would travel the three turns on the small West Virginia oval together, with Stanford maintaining at least a half-length lead through fractions of :24.75, :48.86, and 1:13.75. Stanford, the Bay colt by Malibu Moon, kicked clear near the eighth pole and widened under a drive to win by two lengths over Page McKenney. Donworth, the 2-1 favorite finished third and Imperative, the second choice finished fourth.

“He broke very sharp and there wasn’t that much speed in the race,” said Castellano. “He broke well and I just enjoyed the ride. I thought the fractions were pretty comfortable.”

With the Charles Town track favoring speed both Friday and Saturday, Stanford used his and showed his versatility and improvement to finish with a final time of 1:50.55. Stanford paid $9.40 to win, $5.00 to place and $3.80 to show as the 7-2 betting choice. Page McKenney paid $6.20 and $3.40 and a $2 exacta paid $66.40.

Following a layoff in the summer of 2015, Stanford has put together back-to-back graded stakes placings, most recently behind his stablemate Blofeld in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. Pletcher suggested that the next stop for the colt may be the $1.25 million Grade I Metropolitan Handicap (Met Mile) June 11 at Belmont Park.

Danzing Candy

Don’t Forget About Danzing Candy

Danzing Candy has been a fascinating fixture on the Kentucky Derby trial, and is firmly pointed towards the big race on May 7th. A ton of the hype generated off his rousing win at the San Felipe Stakes has cooled since his follow up performance at the Santa Anita Derby went much, much worse. He’s still managed to maintain 16/1 odds so far in the KDFW, and he continues to train well.

To say that Danzing Candy blossomed out of nowhere is an understatement. The San Felipe Stakes was his first stakes race, and he entered as a 5/1 take with curiosity abounding. He had clocked almost miraculously fast training times given his pedigree as the son of Twirling Candy and was facing Mor Spirit, one of the best horses in the three-year old class this year. Then this happened:

Danzing Candy led wire-to-wire and trounced Mor Spirit in a thrilling debut, making him a sudden contender for the Kentucky Derby. The two would have a rematch a month later at the Santa Anita Derby and the race began the same way as the San Felipe did. Despite sloppy conditions, Danzing Candy shot out to an early lead and looked to dust the field yet again.

Fate would not be on his side, and inexperience showed. Danzing Candy faded down the homestretch as he watched Exaggerator and Mo Tom thunder past him to finish first and second in that order. The Clifford Sise protege would slide back to a disheartening fourth place finish.

Yet, there are still some that remember the San Felipe performance freshly and are willing to disregard Danzing Candy’s Santa Anita Derby run due to the awful track conditions. You just can’t teach speed, but you can certainly try to apply it better in competition. That’s what Sise and his team are doing right now as they work with their Kentucky Derby nominee.

Danzing Candy will run out of the number three post at Churchill Downs and his handlers have made no bones about the strategy. “The speed is to the outside of us in the six and 10,” Sise said. “So, we’ll be going to the lead.” Frontrunners usually perish around the second turn, but Danzing Candy proved what he’s capable of in March. If he can hold his speed and find the competitive fire that he lacked at the Santa Anita Derby, he will absolutely make this a race to remember.

Especially if you’ve forgotten about him.



Brockton Fairgrounds to Host Live Horse Racing

A deal has been struck between the Carney Family, owners of the Brockton Fairgrounds, and the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association that will see 30 days of live racing take place at the facility.

“We have a deal,” said Chris Carney. “We don’t have any dates set yet. We have to go back to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to see how much money is approved, but we’re looking at purses of about $150,000 per day, depending upon how much we’ll have allocated from the Race Horse Development Fund.

“We’re planning on running two to three days per week, and with local horsemen. I don’t want to run any five-horse fields. I want eight-horse fields. So if I have to run two days per week until the middle of October, I will.”

Massachusetts Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association President Bill Lagorio had the following to say: “It took some details to work out, but this will be beneficial to our group and the Carneys. The response from the New England horsemen and jockeys has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve gotten so many calls from people who are excited to come home that my phone died. I think we’ll have a very solid horse population.”

Live horse racing isn’t new for the Carney family Before it was outlawed years ago in Massachusetts, they held events at Raynham Park. They currently hold two agricultural licenses for Brockton, which allowed them to run 15 days of horse racing each calendar year under law.

The next priority for the Carneys is ideal they are working on with Rush Street Gaming to develop a resort casino on their Raynham property.

Maryland Racing Commission is moving forward with plans to update Pimlico

Maryland Racing Commission To Update Pimlico

Pimlico Racetrack has long been the site of the Preakness Stakes, but it is also the target of scrutiny from many angles. The overlaying problem has been the conditions of the facility, which desperately require an upgrade. The Maryland Racing Commission is ensuring that this happens sooner rather than later.

Chairman John McDaniel will oversee a a two phase plan that will allow developers and authorities to properly determine what needs to be done. “In my judgment, this is probably one of the most important items we’ll be engaged with going forward,” McDaniel said. In a unanimous vote on April 19th, the Maryland Racing Commission handed full power in this matter over to McDaniel.

After the assessment is complete, the commission will move towards discussing the best course of action to re-develop and update Pimlico Racecourse. This process is costing $280,000 and is drawing financial support from the Maryland Racing Commission, Maryland Stadium Authority and the Maryland Jockey Club. It’s obvious that the state’s governing bodies are intent on maintaining Pimlico’s status as one of the premier racetracks in the country.

The stadium authority remains the most important component of all this. They have been responsible for the upkeep and prosperity of all the major stadiums in the state, including the M&T Bank Stadium (NFL’s Baltimore Ravens) and Camden Yards (MLB’s Baltimore Orioles). The presence of the stadium authority within this process bodes well for Pimlico Racetrack and its future.

Fears have recently persisted that the Maryland Racing Commission was looking to transplant the Preakness Stakes from Pimlico to another destination, namely Laurel Park, which is also undergoing a massive renovation. Instead, the intention seems to be much broader and less petty. Using the remainder of the 2016 season (and a portion of 2017) to update Pimlico seems like the priority, as it will keep the Preakness where it belongs.

Instead, the Laurel Park upgrades look as though they’re part of a bid to acquire the Breeders’ Cup World Championships somewhere down the line. It’s a lofty goal for the Maryland Racing Commission, especially given that the world championships run in early November.

Still, all of these moves prove that the Maryland Racing Commission is intent on improving the stature of the state within the sport of thoroughbred racing.