The favorite has won the last four editions of the Kentucky Derby, but this year’s “Run for the Roses” seems very much up-for-grabs. It’s fairly easy to poke holes in the form of just about everyone, including morning-line favorite Classic Empire (who’s dealt with behavioral issues and a minor injury earlier this year). Here are three longshots you’ll want to watch out for if you’re betting the big race.
Lookin At Lee (20-1, Post Position: 1)
Lookin At Lee is the kind of runner that always seems to fare well in the Kentucky Derby. He usually sits far back early on before making a wide, late bid down the stretch. Lookin At Lee has lost his last six races but has made up significant ground each time, suggesting he’ll relish every bit of the 10 furlongs he gets at Churchill Downs this Saturday. Lookin At Lee raced at Churchill twice at age two and while he failed to win both those races, he did run second in the Iroquois Stakes. A big knock against him is the rail draw, as no horse has won from this post position since 1986 (Ferdinand). Locally-based rider Corey Lanerie will have the call for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Thunder Snow (20-1, Post Position: 2)
Thunder Snow will try to become the first horse to win both the UAE Derby and Kentucky Derby. It can be tough to compare international competitors to the local horses, but it’s worth noting the horse Thunder Snow beat by a head in the UAE Derby, Epicharis, was 4-for-4 and had won a Derby points race in Japan prior to his loss to Thunder Snow. Trained by world-class conditioner Saeed bin Suroor, Thunder Snow has won three straight stakes races and seems to improve each time he’s asked to go longer. Christophe Soumillon, a highly-respected jockey overseas who piloted Thunder Snow to victory in Dubai, will be aboard. Thunder Snow might need a little racing luck breaking from post two, as the last horse to win from there was the brilliant Affirmed in 1978.
Gunnevera (15-1, Post Position: 10)
Gunnevera was third in his last start, the Florida Derby, but was very far back early on a racetrack that seemed to be favoring speed. Prior to that effort, Gunnevera looked like a top contender off a convincing score in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and a respectable runner-up finish in the Holy Bull Stakes. If you can forgive his Florida Derby, he looks very live at generous odds. Javier Castellano, winner of the last four Eclipse Awards for Outstanding Rider, stays aboard for little-known trainer Antonio Sano, which inspires confidence. The last horse to win from post 10 was Giacomo (2005), but it remains the best post position by percentage (11.3 percent) in Kentucky Derby history.