It’s time to jump into the largest wagering pool in horse racing. With no consensus favorite in a seemingly wide-open field, there is lots of intrigue in this Kentucky Derby.
If a long shot hits the board, there is the potential for a big payoff in a trifecta or superfecta. Play your favorite horse across the board if you wish, but definitely play the exotics.
“I could give you any one of seven horses that I think has a chance to win this race,” veteran handicapper Hank Goldberg said.
VSiN host Ron Flatter has reported all week from soggy Louisville, Kentucky, where a sloppy Churchill Downs track is expected to dry out some by post time at 3:34 p.m. PT.
After handicapping the 20-horse field, Flatter (@ronflatter on Twitter) detailed his best bets:
1. (14) Classic Empire. Derby eve bettors backed off last year's 2-year-old champion. When he won the Arkansas Derby it looked like his hoof and back problems were a distant memory. I will not try to beat him.
2. (8) Hence. Terrific track work this week here at Churchill Downs with a strong finish last month in the Sunland Derby. His finishing times were far stronger than any horse coming out of the Santa Anita Derby or the Blue Grass.
3. (5) Always Dreaming. Todd Pletcher may have come late into the best Derby horse he has ever had. This colt won a Florida Derby that is looking better and better every time it is weighed against other preps.
4. (18) Gormley. South Point sports book director Chris Andrews talked me into this one. So did going back and looking at his win in the Sham. I will put him among the others to top my exotics if the track is still waterlogged.
5. (6) State Of Honor. His front-running style will work on an off track as long as he doesn't set a blinding pace. And he could set up stable mate Classic Empire's victory.
More opinions from VSiN staff members and other handicappers:
John Avello, Wynn Las Vegas race and sports book director
(15) McCraken, (19) Practical Joke, (8) Hence
Brian Blessing, Sportsbookradio.com, @Brian Blessing
(17) Irish War Cry, (14) Classic Empire, (20) Patch, (18) Gormley, (5) Always Dreaming
“Pimlico” Frank Carulli, Las Vegas professional horseplayer
(10) Gunnevera, (17) Irish War Cry, (14) Classic Empire, (13) J Boys Echo
Chuck Esposito, Sunset Station race and sports book director
(15) McCraken, (20) Patch, (4) Untrapped
Hank Goldberg, handicapper, @hammeringhankg
(17) Irish War Cry, (2) Thunder Snow, (19) Practical Joke, (5) Always Dreaming
Mitch Moss, VSiN host, @MitchMossRadio
(8) Hence, (14) Classic Empire, (15) McCraken
Brent Musburger, VSiN host, @brentmusburger
(14) Classic Empire, (5) Always Dreaming, (2) Thunder Snow, (17) Irish War Cry, (10) Gunnevera, (8) Hence
Matt Youmans, VSiN editor, @mattyoumans247
(5) Always Dreaming, (17) Irish War Cry, (16) Tapwrit, (6) State of Honor, (10) Gunnevera