Twenty horses will line up in the gate at Churchill Downs for the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Saturday (6:30 p.m., NBC). There’s a lot of money to be made if you bet the right way, but first you have to pick the right horses. Here are the best bets for this year's “run for the roses.”
Dortmund (Post Position: 8, Morning-Line Odds: 3-1)
There’s a lot to like about this colt sired by 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown. Dortmund is undefeated in six lifetime starts, including wins in the San Felipe Stakes and Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park in California. He’s trained by one of the best in the game in Bob Baffert (who has three Derby wins to his credit), and will be ridden by an elite jockey in Martin Garcia. But because he has such strong credentials his post-time odds are likely to be less than salivating. Just betting Dortmund to win won’t yield a large profit, but betting him on top in exactas and trifectas is a tempting alternative if you’re looking to make a big score. He is likely to try and work out a trip much like California Chrome did when he won last year’s Derby; sitting just off the early leaders before striking the front at the top of the stretch.
Materiality (Post Position: 3, Morning-Line Odds: 12-1)
His career only began in January, so Materiality will be trying to become the first horse not to race as a 2-year-old to win the Kentucky Derby since Apollo in 1882. He has developed into a top-class runner, fairly quickly for Todd Pletcher, taking the Islamorada Handicap and Florida Derby down at Gulfstream Park in Florida in preparation for this race. Materiality is a son of Afleet Alex, who won the 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes and finished third in the Kentucky Derby, so he is likely to handle the demanding 10 furlong distance. Materiality has tended to race toward the front in his young career, but he is not as naturally speedy as some of the other runners in here, so he’ll likely be sitting behind the leaders until it’s time to make his move. If he goes off above 10-1 I would consider that fair value, but he will have to deal with Dortmund.
International Star (Post Position: 12, Morning-Line Odds: 20-1)
International Star is 3-for-3 this year, with all those wins coming in stakes races at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana. He does his best running from well behind, and that style usually pays dividends in the Kentucky Derby. He will be ridden by Miguel Mena, who normally plies his trade with great success at Churchill Downs. One word of caution though; the Louisiana Derby has not produced a Kentucky Derby winner since 1996 (Grindstone).