A bit predictable, but a deserving top choice. This talented Malibu Moon colt has improved leaps and bounds in his last few starts. After fairly easy wins in an Aqueduct Maiden Special Weight and a first-level Allowance at Gulfstream, Orb was given a chance to take on the big boys in the Fountain of Youth. He closed down the stretch to beat Violence by a 1/2 length, and scored his first 50 Derby points. I was impressed by that performance, but his Florida Derby win proved how serious this horse is. He won easily, and he only seems to get better with more distance. No doubt in my mind that he'll get 10 furlongs. Hell, I think he can go even further.
The Santa Anita Derby winner has been my favorite Derby horse for a long time, only because he's out of a Manitoba-bred mare. I wasn't exactly convinced that 10 furlongs would be his game, and to be honest I'm still not 100% about it. But the one thing he showed in the Santa Anita Derby: serious class. He went wide, continuously tried to pass Super Ninety Nine, failed a few times, but refused to give up and eventually prevailed. That's a horse with heart, and that's why he's a major factor.
While Todd Pletcher's Triple Crown record is atrocious, especially considering what a massive corporate stable he runs, this horse has guts. In the Louisiana Derby, he was far back early, rallied 5 wide on the far turn, caught traffic down the long Fair Grounds stretch, but still got up for the win over Mylute. One thing closers should expect in a 20 horse field is traffic. This guys got experience with traffic. Having Calvin Borel in the saddle doesn't hurt, either.
#4. Govenor Charlie
What's one thing this horse did that none of the others have done? Broke a track record. Although the track was lightning fast that day and 2 other records were broken, Govenor Charlie did win the Sunland Derby in a very quick 1.47.54. Although he didn't beat much that day, he's dangerous as a pace setter. He was up with the leaders going some fast fractions, and he was still driving at the end. The major question mark with this guy is how good is he really, as he hasn't had much of a class test yet.
#5. Normandy Invasion
This is a horse that has been screaming out for that 10 furlong distance. Had the Wood Memorial been 10 furlongs, or even 1 3/16 miles, I can say with great confidence that he would have been the winner. This is the horse I think is best suited to 1 1/4 miles. I just prefer horses that are winning over horses that are coming close.
I was very impressed with this horses run in the Illinois Derby. Although he didn't earn any points to the Kentcucky Derby for that win, he should end up with enough to qualify after certain horses like Uncaptured and Super Ninety Nine are eliminated. He's keeps improving with every start in my opinion.
The likely favorite in the wagering on Derby Day is the most overrated one of the bunch. Yes, he's undefeated, and yes he's shown some versatility, but I wasn't overly impressed by the Wood Memorial win and I don't think 10 furlongs is his game. He still has to be respected, though.
#8. Will Take Charge
This guy is kind of like a less classy version of Revolutionary to me. In the Rebel at Oaklawn, he got some traffic problems on the backside and went wide around the turn, but still managed to grab the win as a 28-1 upset. We've never seen him a 9 furlongs, let alone 10, which is a question mark, and he didn't compete in any of the major preps.
Arkansas Derby winner should probably be given a higher spot, but I noticed looking through his races that he seems to regress a bit after he wins. Coincidence? Maybe, but a bouncer is a bouncer, and the Kentucky Derby is not the place you want to bounce.
Finally, Holy Bull winner was perhaps a bit disappointing in the Florida Derby, but I (along with several others) feel it was a bit of a bounce effort. I still believe Orb is the superior horse, especially going a 10 furlong distance, but there's no reason to disregard this guy, he's still very talented.
So there you have it, the 10 horses I like the best in the Kentucky Derby. Only 12 days left until the first Saturday in May!