September 5, 2020
At approximately 7:01 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time this evening, the starting gate will open at Churchill Downs, and 16 three-year-old colts will launch out and contest the 146th edition of the Kentucky Derby.
The Derby is a notoriously difficult race for horse players. The colts are still young and developing, and racing luck invariably plays a big role when you have fields of up to 20 horses.
That said, you’d think I’d be better at this.
I’ve been playing the ponies since I was in high school, and haven’t picked a Derby winner since Street Sense in 2007. In fairness to me, I don’t pick favorites, and five of the last six post-time favorites won the race. And, this year, it is going to be hard to make a case against Tiz the Law, who will be heavily favored this evening, and rightfully so. But I’m going to give it a shot.
And if you, like me, would rather not bet on a 3-5 shot, I have some suggestions:
#7 Money Moves will be 20-1 or higher. This will only be the colt’s fourth lifetime start, but he won two of his three previous races, and his only loss was by a neck. He is running against considerably tougher horses today, but could improve enough to be a factor. He sold at auction for $975,000 as a yearling, so someone thought they saw something in him.
#15 NY Traffic will go off between 15-1 and 20-1, and has finished no worse than third in his last five starts, and seems to improve with each race. He will likely be among the leaders early so, if you bet him, you’ll at least get the chance to hear the track announcer call his name two or three times.
#16 Honor A.P., whose grandsire was the second-favorite in the 1992 Kentucky Derby before being scratched because of a hoof ailment the morning of the race, comes to Louisville from California. In five races out west, he was never worse than 2nd, and he may appreciate the 1 1/4 miles. He may well be the second favorite at about 9-2. I’m not sure he presents a lot of value, but it would not be a huge shock if he were to win.
And… my horse…
#18 Authentic. Authentic has raced five times, winning four and finishing 2nd the other time as the beaten favorite. I think the only way you can beat Tiz the Law is to get in front of him; I don’t think you can run him down. Although Authentic will be on the extreme outside, that may not necessarily be a bad thing so long as he can get at or near the front of the pack as the horses hit the clubhouse turn. It will be then be up to jockey John Velasquez to dial it back, ration out his speed, and save enough gas to outlast the closers in the home stretch. He is no sure thing, but if he goes off at 8-1 or longer, I will probably take a flyer on him.
May the horse be with you.