It looks like a field of 11 heading to the starting gate Saturday with the recent departure of Normandy Invasion who waits until the Belmont Stakes. Seven of the 11 met each other in the Kentucky Derby.
Here’s a look at the horses in order of the projected morning line. The post positions will be announced Wednesday.
Orb (6-5): Trained by Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and ridden by Joel Rosario. This colt will most likely be odds-on when they leave the gate as he beat six of the 11 in here at the Derby. I don’t think the post will matter for this horse. The only thing that could stop him would be the track condition.
Sometimes Pimlico can be very favorable to early speed, but don’t see anyone getting a lonely easy lead in here. If someone is going to upset Orb it looks like one of the new shooters. If Orb wins, it sets up huge for the books here in Vegas and some real excitement for all horse fans and betters come Belmont day.
Departing (3-1): Trained by the very capable Albert Stall and ridden by Brian Hernandez who has been on this gelding in all five of his starts with four wins and a third. The one time this gelding lost was in the Louisiana Derby, finishing third behind Revolutionary and Mylute. This 3yo was raised with Orb at Claiborne Farm. Departing was a bad actor when he was a youngster and had to be gelded. I wonder if these two will remember each other when grazing together at Pimlico.
It would be cool if they were side by side in the starting gate. I wonder who won when they were racing each other down on the farm? This one will be over bet – he beat little in the Illinois Derby and could not handle Mylute in the Louisiana Derby. Can get a piece as he always runs his race and is a must use in the exotics.
Goldencents (6-1): Trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Kevin Krigger who has been on this colt in all seven of his starts. Was 7-1 at the Derby the third betting choice. Has been at Pimlico for two weeks and jockey Krigger gave up all his mounts at Hollywood to stay with the horse and gallop him every day. O’Neill said he will not work him just give him long gallops every day, which he did with I’ll Have Another last year.
O’Neill showered Krigger with praise after the Derby for how he did not abuse the horse after having no shot and easing him to the wire. You may see the real Goldencents this time around. If so he will make a race of it turning for home, win or lose. A must use.
Mylute (10-1): Trained by Tom Amoss and ridden by Rosie Napravnik, this colt ran a bang up fifth in the Derby. Was one of three on the line for the show dough. I have a ton of respect for these connections and we know Rosie will give this colt every chance to get there, but not Saturday. Will be using in the trifecta and superfecta.
Itsmyluckyday (10-1): Trained by Edward Plesa and ridden by J. R. Velazquez for the first time. This colt has speed and gets one of the all-time best jockeys. Look for him to rebound, but could not beat Orb the two times they met this year. Has been beaten by Goldencents and Mylute. Will have some good early run this time, but not there at the wire despite J.R. This bettor will be doing the El Paso!
Govenor Charlie (15-1): Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Gacia who has been on this colt in all three of his starts with two wins and a second. Both have been here before. A very scary fresh colt with some big time early speed, and he has been working in the wind at Churchill Downs. Will fall into a perfect stalking position right on the tail of Titletown Five if he doesn’t outbreak him.
If this colt can clear early he can get very brave. Battled going a mile in his maiden breaker at Santa Anita when he was headed and came back for the win on the line. Don’t know if he is good enough to beat Orb but has that very dangerous early speed. If the track is being kind to early speed, look out! Govenor is not misspelled. Owner Mike Pegram may have had one too many beers when naming him. Just kidding, Mike.
Will Take Charge (15-1): Trained by D. Wayne Lukas and he gets a new rider with Hall of Famer Mike Smith taking over. This is one of three that Lukas has in here. This colt might have won the Derby if he did not get checked when making his move with Orb.
Even though Smith is getting on, I just can’t find anyone in his back races that he beat that measures up to Orb. Won’t beat Orb but will be coming with a late run and can be used on the bottom of your exotics if the track comes up fast. His worst two races were on off tracks.
Vyjack (15-1): Trained by Rudy Rodriguez and gets a new rider with Garrett Gomez. This colt has never beaten the likes of this field and he lost to Verrazano and Normandy Invasion with Rosario in the irons in the Wood. Needs to head back to New York. Pass.
Oxbow (20-1): Trained by D. Wayne Lukas and ridden by Gary Stevens. The best thing he has going for him is Stevens, who has been in this race 16 times with two wins – Point Given 2001 and Silver Charm 1997. Oxbow is no Point Given or Silver Charm. This one could not beat Overanalyze in the Arkansas Derby or Will Take Charge in the Rebel. Has some good tracking speed and Stevens will get the absolute most out of him. Will use on our exotic tickets, especially on a fast track.
Titletown Five (30-1): Trained by Lukas and gets a new rider, Julien Leparoux. Stevens, who rode him in the Derby Trail (finished fourth), is on Oxbow. Will be a slight early factor and fold faster than yesterday’s newspaper. Pass!
Street Spice (50-1): Trained by Greg Geier and ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez. Has little or no shot so we will pass.
Bottom line: Beating Orb. It will be a very hard task as he looks to be heading to New York just one race short of immortality.
Will be odds on so the best possible betting strategy is betting the superfecta and trifecta using him on top and then making some smaller wagers with him in the second and third spots looking for the big payoff.
Baffert can be a very dangerous trainer with a fresh horse in a race like this so we will be using the Govenor, Departing, Mylute and Goldencents.
Have a great time and remember, you could be walking around lucky and not even know it.
Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].