2011 Kentucky Derby Preview

2011 Kentucky Derby PreviewSince January 1, when last year’s crop of juvenile Thoroughbreds officially turned three-years old, there have been close to 60 prep races to determine the 20-horse field for this year’s 137th running of horse racing’s premier event; the Kentucky Derby. This year’s race from storied Churchill Downs in Louisville is set for Saturday, May 7th.

The following is a brief look at some of the top contenders for the Derby along with their current odds to win as provided by Bookmaker.com.

The Favorites

Dialed In, fresh off a huge win in the grade I Florida Derby on April 3 is the current odds-on-favorite to win the Kentucky Derby at +350. Trained by Nick Zito and ridden by Julien Leparoux, he won his debut at Churchill as a juvenile in November. This season he won the grade III Holy Bull Stakes by 1 ¼ lengths on January 30. After finishing a close second in an allowance race in early March, he captured the Florida Derby by head as the 3-1 second choice.

Uncle Mo remains the second favorite at +500, but much of his initial luster as a prohibitive Derby favorite was lost when he finished a disappointing third in the Wood Memorial on April 9. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, this horse was unbeaten as a juvenile in four starts including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last November. The Wood was his only race as a three-year old.

The Contenders

Archarcharch has had an exceptional Derby prep season with victories in the grade III Southwest Stakes on February 21 and most recently a shocking win in the grade I Arkansas Derby as a 25-1 longshot this past Saturday. The victory in the Arkansas Derby has moved him up the board as he is now listed at +1000 to win the Kentucky Derby. Archarcharch is trained by William “Jinks” Fires and ridden by Jon Court.

The Factor was considered by many as the new favorite to win the Derby after Uncle Mo failed to win the Wood, but a disappointing seventh-place in last Saturday’s Arkansas Derby has dropped him to the third favorite at +1000. He is trainer Bob Baffert’s top contender for this year’s race and still has tremendous promise after winning the grade II San Vicente Stakes on January 20 and the grade II Rebel Stakes on March 19. He is expected to be ridden by Martin Garcia for the Derby.

The Longshot

The horse to watch for this year’s Kentucky Derby if you are looking for a moderate longshot is Stay Thirsty, who is currently listed at +2500. He is another Todd Pletcher entry and will most likely be ridden by Ramon Dominguez. He finished second in the grade I Hopeful Stakes as a juvenile and made his debut as a three-year old with a 3 ¼- length victory in the grade III Gotham Stakes on March 5 as a 9-10 favorite. He is coming off a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Florida Derby, but still has the potential to pull off the upset at Churchill the first Saturday in May.

Dave Schwab

DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.