2015 Kentucky Derby Preview
posted May 01 2015, 08:56AM
story by Pat Infante
posted in Horse Racing, Betting

Preview of the 141st Kentucky Derby and a recap of the Roadt To The 2015 Derby 

Follow me on Twitter @PInfante97


Ocho Ocho Ocho is a little horse that was a much bigger prospect for the Derby 5 months ago when he was 3 wins in 3 starts. Fast forward to now and hes not much of a prospect to win this race at all. He finished 3rd in the Santa Anita Derby and finished 8th in the San Felipe March 7th. He draws the dreaded 1 post so this is an easy toss.


Carpe Diem is a winner in 4 of 5 lifetime starts. His most recent win was in the Blue Grass Stakes on April 4th. His only loss came in the Breeders Cup Juvenile where he was hurt by a really bad trip around the track and came around the far turn 6 wide and managed to pass almost the entire field to finish 2nd. I really like the burst he showed in the stretch run of the Tampa Bay Derby two races back. He is clearly one of the heavy weights in this race.


Materiality is this years horse trying to break the ‘Apollo curse’. Not since Apollo in 1882 has a horse that was unraced at age 2 gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. Materiality was also this springs breakthrough performance with his outstanding win in the Florida Derby, a race that has produced semi-recent derby winners Orb, Big Brown, and Barbaro. He is 3 for 3 lifetime and I do think he has a legitimate chance to break the Apollo curse. Every race he just keeps getting better and someday the curse has to be broken. The last major contender to try to break the curse was Bodemeister in 2012 where he finished 2nd. Like Bodemeister, Materiality does like to run on the lead but will need to show he can sit off the pace just a little in this race to have a shot. Not many horses gate to wire the field in this race. The last horse to do so was War Emblem in 2002. One interesting thing to take note of is Materiality has never lost ground in the stretch run of any of his races. Same can be said for Dortmund.


Tencendur ran the race of his life in the Wood Memorial finishing 2nd two lengths back of Frosted. He is a horse who made a giant leaping improvement in his last start and would need another giant improvement to compete in this race. Based on the 100 Beyer he ran and the fact that you can get 30-1 on him Id only consider him for a back end excotics play.


Danzig Moon finished 2nd to Carpe Diem in the Blue Grass Stakes. He seems to be an improving horse but he will have to take a giant leap to beat this field. His only win comes in a maiden race back in February. Doubt his second win is the Kentucky Derby. Danzig Moon however is a play on the tail end of exotics for me. If you watch him (the 8 horse) in the Blue Grass at the top of the far turn he runs stride for stride with Carpe Diem thus I think he could be one of those horses that is just passing tired horses down the stretch to finish in 4th or 3rd and add some good value on the back of a exotic ticket. I like to call that ‘clunking up’.


Mubtaahij pronounced moob-ta-heej ships in after winning the UAE Derby in Dubai in fantastic fashion. Its worth noting the UAE Derby is ran at 1 3/16 mile, the closest to the derby distance of all the prep races. He is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum. Thats just fun to say. Anyway, he is trained by Mike de Kock who is considered one of the best trainers in the world. de Kock has only previously shipped in 6 horses to the USA and every time they have finished in the money. Mubtaahij really is the wildcard in this derby.Mubtaahij likes to stalk the pace and has 5 career starts on dirt and has won 4 of them and finished a very game 2nd in the other. I love the burst shown in the stretch run in the UAE Derby, one of the most dominating performances of the prep season. Although we truly don’t know how good the competition is he was racing in Dubai, as I dug deeper into the UAE Derby field I found a few interesting facts. 1) The field had accounted for 33 wins, 2) 8 of the 10 horses were stakes winners. 3) One of the horses he beat was a horse named Sir Fever who was the winner of the Uruguay Triple Crown last year as a 3 year old. Southern Hemisphere 4 year olds are often eligible to run in Northern Hemisphere 3 year old races. So Mubtaahij is also the only horse of the field to beat an older horse.  It is worth mentioning the best that any Dubai shipper has finished in the Derby is 5th, done in 2011 by Master of Hounds who finished 2nd in the UAE Derby. Of the UAE winners to race in the Kentucky Derby since 2000 they have finished 6th, 8th, 9th, and 8th. So it isn’t like they didn’t belong and Mubtaahij is widely regarded as the best UAE Derby winner to ever come to the States.  He is the ultimate Derby wild card but he is a horse I will be playing.


El Kabeir - Scratched


Dortmund is the undefeated son of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. He has 6 wins in 6 career starts. He comes into the Derby after a very impressive win in the Santa Anita Derby, the same race that California Chrome used as his final prep a year ago. Dortmund is an unusually large race horse, actually he is massive. He is a horse who likes to run on the lead however he will probably be placed a little off the pace in this race. My concern with him is in a 20 horse field, with a horse his size, how nimble is he to weave through traffic? He is usually placed on the lead as a front runner and obviously has never been in a race with a 20 horse field. So it is interesting to see how his size will play into this. Anyway you slice it he is a major contender to win this race but there are some areas of vulnerability in the second betting choice.


Bolo is a horse that is best suited for turf but is not so shabby on the dirt. He finished 3rd in the Santa Anita Derby to Dortmund after a wide trip around the track. He has won 2 of 5 races but both came on the turf. He has run a couple of decent Beyer Speed Figures and at long odds is a clunker candidate.


Firing Line is a horse I really like. He comes into the Kentucky Derby off of a 14 length win in the Sunland Derby where he broke the track record. In his previous race, The Robert B Lewis Stakes on February 7th he finished 2nd losing by a head to Dortmund and gave him all he could handle. Then 2 races back on December 20th he raced Dortmund again in the Los Alamitos Futurity and again he lost only by a head in what was the best finish to any prep race on the Road to the Derby. I think this is an improving horse. He really didn’t beat the greatest competition in his 14 length romp in New Mexico at the Sunland Derby but he still set the track record. I think based on the odds you get with Dortmund and the odds you get with Firing Line, and knowing he was within a head bob of him twice and then he went out and improved, this is a horse that you can place a WIN bet on and get good value. If you want to bet the big 2 (Dortmund, American Pharaoh) it makes more sense to play them on top of an exotic but Firing Line is the type of horse that based on value you make a WIN bet on.


Stanford - SCRATCHED. All horses outside of him will slide down one spot but keep the same program number. Frammento will wear #21 and start from gate 20.


International Star is the winner of the Louisiana Derby and although the fields he beat were not the greatest he managed to sweep the Louisiana prep season going 3 for 3 at Fair Grounds.  His wins weren’t very dominating but he did do enough to get the win. He is a classic stalker which is the preferred running style for the Kentucky Derby. He will try to sit in the second tier of horses as they round the track then when they turn for home we will see if he is fast enough to win the Kentucky Derby. I don’t think he is, but he is a good solid horse and I wouldn’t be surprised if he hits the board.


Itsaknockout is coming off a 4th place finish in the Florida Derby where he was beaten by 21 lengths. I just don't think he is fast enough or has the stamina to win this race and is a complete toss for me. He is probably better at a mile distance. Any horse making the gate has a punchers chance and he is 1 of 20 horses of his generation to make the Kentucky Derby out of the 118,000 or so thoroughbreds born every year world wide and that alone is a major accomplishment.


Keen Ice comes out of a 4th place finish in the Louisiana Derby. 1 Career win in 7 starts makes it hard to make a case for this horse. The only angle that makes him a semi interesting sneaky play on the tail end of an exotic is his dosage numbers suggest he may like the longer distance thus if he gets a good trip could be one of those horses passing the tired horses in the stretch. The dosage index is a mathematical figure used by breeders and sometimes by bettors to quantify a horse's ability, or inability, to negotiate the various distances at which horse races are run.  His numbers are solid. He runs one speed but runs all day.


Frosted enters the Derby as the winner of the Wood Memorial. This horse was highly regarded as a serious contender in late 2014. It is important to note that the Wood Memorial winner has not finished in the top 3 in the Kentucky Derby since Funny Cide in 2003. This field of Wood Memorial horses leaves a lot to be desired but he did overcome a terrible trip going 3 wide around the first turn and 4 wide around the second turn to win the race. That fact also indicates that he covered a lot of ground which is a good sign he will be able to stay the distance of the derby. Previously to being moved to Aqueduct to race in the Wood Memorial he spent the winter at Gulfstream Park in Florida where he lost 2 races to fellow Derby contender Upstart one by 4 lengths and one by 5. Before his win in the Wood he was a total toss for me but as I looked deeper into him I found something that is worth noting: before winning the Wood Memorial he did have a Llewellyn procedure. Which is basically a procedure to help the horse breathe better. Was that the reason he kind of disappointed in Florida this winter? Watching him (the 6 horse) in the stretch run of the Fountain Of Youth Stakes on February 21st he looks like a horse that slowed up due to a breathing problem as he just fades all at once. Is the surgery what made him finally live up to his potential? We will soon find out.


War Story is a horse that spent the winter in Louisiana. He lost his last 3 races to fellow derby contender International Star. He comes in to this race off a 3rd place finish in the Louisiana Derby. He has had problems getting out of the gate but got out well in his last start so really had no excuse. I just don't think he is good enough to win this race however his pedigree shows he is a candidate to handle the 1 ¼ mile distance thus he could clunk up and land somewhere in the superfecta but reports out of Louisville this week indicate he looks like a horse that “misfiring”.


Mr. Z has run in 10 races in his career. He has won none of them. He is probably better running shorter distances. I really don’t see him being a factor in this race thus I will totally toss him out of all my bets.


American Pharoah, what more can be said about this horse? He has done everything as good as it could possibly be done. He comes to Kentucky off 4 impressive wins in a row. His latest win was the Arkansas Derby where he romped home down the stretch clearly just outclassing the field. He will be the post time favorite but he is racing a crop of 3 year olds that may be the best crop this millenium has seen. One question with this horse is can he can get the derby distance? He is by Pioneerof The Nile who won the 2009 Santa Anita Derby then tired down the stretch and lost the Kentucky Derby to Mine That Bird. Pioneerof The Nile also sired Social Inclusion who faded down the stretch of last years Preakness and Cairo Prince who was highly regarded and faded down the stretch of the 2014 Florida Derby. So all in all American Pharoah looks like an absolute beast of a horse, and I will play him in exotic bets, but there are questions as there is with any horse. Furthermore handicapping aside, is the Derby favorite going to win 3 years in a row? Thats not something that normally happens. For that to happen American Pharoah will have to be the first horse in at least 48 years to not race in a race with 10 horses previous to the Derby and win it. If he does win he is a very special horse and a Triple Crown threat.


Upstart comes to Louisville off of a 2nd place finish to Materiality in the Florida Derby. He has finished in the money in all 7 of his career starts and is a classic stalker type horse.  He has been a well respected horse since the beginning of this years derby trail. At first glance he is a second tier horse in this crop but he does have sneaky first tier upside. If you watch the entire Florida Derby and Upstart and Materiality where to flip flop trips then Upstart probably wins, runs the highest Beyer of the prep season and is one of the top 3 betting choices along with American Pharoah and Dortmund. Likely passing Carpe Diem. I really think he is going to surprise some people because he consistently runs good races and has run them over a Gulfstream Park track that came up pretty deep and slow all winter. Based on that he will probably get a nice boost running over Churchill. Sneaky stat on him is since 2003 6 horses have entered the Kentucky Derby with two 105 Beyer Speed Figures or higher in their last 3 races. Of those 6 horses 3 have won, 1 finished second, and 1 finished fourth. Upstart Ran a 108 in his 2nd place finish in the Florida Derby and a 105 two races back of that on January 24th in his most impressive win in the Holy Bull Stakes.


Far Right is a horse that runs one speed but can run all day long. He certainly is not fast enough to win this Derby but if the pace is as fast as people expect then he has a decent shot to close on the field and finish top 4. But again I really think it would take a pace meltdown to tire out all the better front running horses for him to have a shot.


21. Frammento is the 4th place finisher of the Blue Grass Stakes and trained by 2 time Kentucky Derby winner Nick Zito. He has only 1 win in 7 starts and any time he is placed in a race with other Derby contenders he finishes behind them. The one thing I did notice is in his last 2 races he has gained ground from the 6 furlong point to the finish which shows he may like the longer distance and not tire. This makes him a candidate to ‘clunk up’.


Derby Betting Strategy



Im not going to sit here and tell you American Pharoah (5-2) and Dortmund (3-1) are not the two best horses in this race. But what I will say is it makes absolutely no sense in betting these horses to WIN. If these are your horses your going to have to bet them in an exotic of some sort. The thing I look for when making a WIN bet on the Kentucky derby is value. This is not a year like last year where it was as much of a lock as possible with California Chrome. He was a super horse in a race with weak competition. This years crop of 3 year olds is as good as i've ever seen. I know how impressive American Pharoah and Dortmund have looked but they have a few obstacles as in any Derby.

1) they have to get a good trip and not get stuck out wide or jammed in traffic, etc.  2) There is a possibility of a pace melt down with a lot of horses in this race that like to run in front running fashion. If an all out speed duel breaks out and these horses run the first ½ mile in 45-46 seconds then any horse near the lead will be totally spent and have nothing left coming down the stretch. If you want to look to history look no further than 2005. Perceived super horse Bellamy Road had his final prep in the Wood Memorial where he ran a 120 Beyer Speed Figure and blew out the competition with a win more impressive the American Pharoah’s Arkansas Derby. Afleet Alex was also a top notch contender that year but when a speed dual broke out it set the stage for Giacomo to close on the field at 50-1.

So overall when talking about a win bet im looking for value and I think there are multiple horses over 10-1 that have a legit chance to win this race. 19 UPSTART (15-1) consistently runs good races, I think he can sit  off the pace and I think he can run with the top 2 in this race. I like the outside post draw for him as most of his races he has drawn outside.  I really think he is being overlooked. 6 MUBTAAHIJ (20-1) There is a lot to like about this horse as I mentioned above. Most impressive is his scintillating turn of foot. 15 FROSTED (15-1) Had a breathing problem corrected and closed into slow fractions after a wide trip in the Wood Memorial. Thats impressive stuff. 10 FIRING LINE (12-1) Again stressing value here he was with in a head of Dortmund two times this year and Dortmund you only get 3-1 on.




If you like the two favorites here is how you bet them. First thing to do is bet an exacta with those two on top with two other horses you like, then you take those same 4 horse and pick them for the second spot of the exacta and add an additional 8 horses to the second spot. For a standard $2 exacta that bet will cost you $88. For me that bet looks like this.


18 American Pharoah, 8 Dortmund, 19 Upstart, 6 Mubtaahij / WITH

18 American Pharoah, 8 Dortmund, 19 Upstart, 6 Mubtaahij, 15 Frosted, 2 Carpe Diem, 5 Danzig Moon, 3 Materiality, 12 International Star, 10 Firing Line, 9 Bolo, 14 Keen Ice


Now the problem with that bet is if American Pharoah and Dortmund did finish 1 and 2 you wouldn't even get your $88 investment back. So then what I would do is bet a trifecta as insurance that looks like this:


18 American Pharoah, 8 Dortmund/ WITH

18 American Pharoah, 8 Dortmund/ WITH

19 Upstart, 6 Mubtaahij, 15 Frosted, 2 Carpe Diem, 3 Materiality, 20 Far Right, 5 Danzig Moon, 12 International Star, 10 Firing Line, 9 Bolo, 21 Frammento, 14 Keen Ice


For a $1 trifecta that bet will cost you $24. They key to the exotics is determining which longer odds horses will ‘clunk up’ and finish in the money, making the payouts very good. Commanding Curve finished 2nd last year at 37-1 and the $2 exacta paid $340 even with a 5-2 favorite winning the race. The year before the favorite Orb won but a 35-1 finished 2nd and the $2 exacta paid out $981.60. Now under my exacta above if that bet hits and American Pharoah and Dortmund finish out the exacta the payout should be huge. The horses I like as serious clunker candidates are DANZIG MOON (30-1) - all reports say he has had a phanominal week of workouts and has really taken to the track, KEEN ICE (50-1) - Runs one speed but runs all day could be passing tired horses down the stretch, EL KABEIR (30-1) - Calvin Borel factor , 20 FAR RIGHT (30-1) - Has a closer running style and if a pace meltdown happens expect him to come flying down the stretch, & BOLO (30-1) - Although his best work has come on turf he has ran some quality races.


Another exacta I like that will cost you $24 for a $2 bet is:


18 American Pharoah, 8 Dortmund, 15 Frosted, 2 Carpe Diem, 10 Firing Line, 12 International Star/ WITH 18 American Pharoah, 8 Dortmund


Again forget American Pharoah and Dortmund in that they are there for insurance and adding them on top only adds 4 bucks to the ticket. But the play here is if one of the other 4 finish on top of either one of them than it will pay well.  




As far as the undercard goes most of the bets iv decided to make with teh exception of race 1 will be Daily Double, Pick 3, or Pick4 bets. Which is picking the winners in consecutive races. My undercard bets are as follows:


Race 1

$2 Exacta Box 1,2,6 = $12


Race 2

$1 DD 3,8 W/ 1,2,3,4,9,15 =$12


Race 3

No bet


Race 4

$1 PK3 3,6,11 W/ 5,6 W 4,5,8,14 = $24


Race 5

$1 PK3 5,6 W/4,5,8,14 W/ 8 = $8


Race 6

$1 PK3 4,5,8,14 W/ 8 W/ 4,5,8,11 = $16

$2 DD 4,5,8,14 W/ 8 = $8


Race 7

$1 PK3 8 W/ 4,5,8,11 W/2 = $4


Race 8

$1 DD 4,5,8,11 W/ 2,4,5 = $12


Race 9

$1 PK3 2 W/ 3,5,8,12 W/ 3,10,15, 18, 19 = $20


Race 10

$1 DD 3,5,8,12 W/ 5,14,8 = $12

Pat Infante
I am from the Jersey Shore. Not the TV show, the actual geographical area. I have been in the car business for over 13 years. Being in the car busines...

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