Louisville, KY - (Judy Shaw is an employee of NewsChannel 5 who has experience and knowledge in horse racing and is blogging from the 139th Kentucky Derby)
Alright race fans, riders up! Today is our day. Our day has finally arrived! And for those putting a horse in the starting gates during race 11 on the Churchill card today that means the sky will part and the heavens will shine upon one lucky racing team as their hard work, grueling schedules, and the cost of making all of this happen since their colt was birthed is going to payoff. Yes, for some owner, jockey and trainer a miracle is going to happen today.
This field is tough. Instead of pushing through all the contenders I am going to focus on 10 that I believe will impact the field. Like last year, this has been quite the task and with rain expected in the forecast we have to look at those who have experience on a muddy track. Which contender could possibly be the one to cross the finish line first in the greatest two minutes of sports?
Orb: PP16, Odds 7/2, Trainer McGaughey, Jockey Joel Rosario
Shug McGaughey has never won a Derby but he knows how to get there. Orb has looked good in his workouts this week and is very strong. Cannot discount this one as the last time out he won the Florida Derby and he has the hottest jockey at the controls today. His pedigree dictates that he is bred for distance and we are adding on an eighth of a mile in this race and that's where stamina will have to take presidence. Hopefully he just didn't outrun those fading in the Florida Derby for the win and can kick it in when asked.
Normandy Invasion: PP 5, Odds 12/1, Trainer Chad Brown, Jockey Castellano
Has received a lot of buzz this week at the track during workouts and his last time out he placed 2nd in the Wood Memorial. He is sired by Tapit and the distance should not be an issue for him. He had a strong finish in the Wood Memorial but must be able to maneuver through such a large field which could be problematic.
Goldencents: PP8, Odds 5/1, Trainer Doug O'Neill, Jockey Kevin Krigger
Won the Santa Anita Derby with a speed rating of 106 and this is a serious contender here. Will be getting a lot of support due to Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino who is part owner of this horse and on a major lucky streak. Can someone really be that lucky? Watch Krigger as they enter the gates, he will be calm and relaxed. Krigger wasn't asking anything from Goldencents in the Santa Anita Derby but this will be a different ride, and he will have to push through to the finish if it is going to happen.
Itsmyluckyday : PP12, Odds 15/1, Trainer Eddie Plesa, Jockey Elvis Trujillo
I do feel there is a lot to like here. He's been on a layoff and is well rested. The owners tell me that he has had a great appetite and has gotten bigger since the Florida Derby where he fell short to Orb. He ran a great race in the slop in August of last year. I think he will be able to dig into the deep dirt track of Churchill. This is the first Derby for Trujillo he will have to maintain the horses position and not let him get too far out in front too early and this one may like that early pace. If this horse wins I couldn't think of a nicer group of owners who are deserving of it.
Revolutionary: PP3, Odds 10/1, Trainer Todd Pletcher, Jockey Calvin Borel
This horse is a major player because he knows how to get around the competition. With Calvin Borel on board he'll be looking for the hole opening on the rail coming into the stretch and knows how to handle the wet surfaces. The only disadvantage is that he hasn't faced any top competition lately and was beaten out by Orb in a maiden last year.
Verrazano: PP14, Odds 4/1, Trainer Todd Pletcher, Jockey John Velazquez
He is unbeaten and last time out won the Wood Memorial but his speed fractions have decreased as the distance has increased. He will be putting it all out there today to maintain his undefeated title. This horse is unraced as a two year old.
Overanalyze: PP9, Odds 15/1, Trainer Todd Pletcher, Jockey Bejarano
He's been training well and is in good form has a great victory in the Arkansas Derby is tactical but the pace in his races have been slower. He was outrun by Vyjack in the Gotham.
Java's War: PP 19, Odds 15/1, Trainer Ken McPeek, Jockey Leparoux
Loved his last time out winning the Blue Grass Stakes with his come from behind effort! Took second in the Tampa Bay Derby. He needs to keep up with the pace and not try to outrun the entire field in the final stretch like the performance in the Blue Grass; which was impressive.
Vyjack: PP20, Odds 15/1, Trainer Rudy Rodriguz
Jockey Garrett Gomez The only gelding in the field today has shown that he is versatile and has an impressive running style. He has shown he can come from behind to win. He had an issue with his lungs in the Wood Memorial but still managed to take third behind Verrazano and Normandy Invasion; the pace in
the Wood was slow.
Will Take Charge : Odds 20/1, Trainer Wayne Lukas, Jockey Jon Court
Trainer Lukas has taken home the Derby trophy four times he had a nice run in the Rebel Stakes and has experience on a sloppy track. The horse has been on a major layoff and has not run longer than 1-1/16 miles. A possible long shot bet if you're looking for one.
Those with experience on a sloppy track are Giant Finish, Palace Malace, Itsmyluckyday, Will Take Charge, Vyjack, Fear The Kitten. For those racing today understand the unprecedented odds they face trying to seize the Derby trophy and make history. For racing greats like Secretariat who still holds all the records in the Triple Crown races, the contenders today are just trying to become part of the cherished allure of this sport and keep the faith getting into the starting gates. And if for some reason at the end of this race you don't believe you saw anything miraculous, change your perception of what a miracle is and you may start to see them all around you.
Good Luck Race Fans!