An inside look at how the 143rd Kentucky Derby will shape up:
1. Firenze Fire (50-1)
Current form: Going in the wrong direction. Jerome winner has been getting further from the winner’s circle since. Tired fourth in the Wood Memorial.
Worth a wager? Fires out. Like NFL star Russell Wilson at Yankees camp, he’s just happy to be here. Not last, 19th.
2. Free Drop Billy (30-1)
Current form: Stock dropped in Blue Grass but he had an excuse. Closed to within 3 lengths before settling fourth (placed third) after late interference.
Worth a wager? Tim Tebow couldn’t crack the lineup but free-falling Billy did. Romans colt tends to lather during warm-up. May benefit going long. Belmont Stakes? 16th.
3. Promises Fulfilled (30-1)
Current form: Fulfilled promises using speed to win three of initial four including the Fountain of Youth. Crashed and burned taking pressure up top in the Florida Derby.
Worth a wager? You know that sound a record makes when the needle scratches the vinyl? Contender prior to Florida flop. Makes presence felt early but fades to 13th.
4. Flameaway (30-1)
Current form: Casse’s Canadian-bred won a 100K on grass and a grade 3 on dirt to kick off campaign. Loads off a pair of close 2nds in both the Tampa Bay and Blue Grass.
Worth a wager? Nooo Canada! Mr Versatility’s won on turf, synthetic, dirt, wet and fast surfaces. Always gives a square effort and will here to land 10th.
5. Audible (8-1)
Current form: Pletcher’s stalker has made all the right calls winning four in a row. Rallied from 8 lengths back before opening of 3 of his own in the Florida Derby.
Worth a wager? Florida Derby winners Nyquist/Always Dreaming took the Roses last two years. Pedigree concerns raise red flags, but Castellano came off Bolt d’Oro to ride here. Good call. Winner.
6. Good Magic (12-1)
Current form: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner came home third in Fountain of Youth but re-established himself a contender again by winning the Blue Grass.
Worth a wager? Is the Magic back? Makes third start of the year. Became a BC champ in third of race of juvenile campaign. Connections (Brown and Ortiz) are strong. Blue Grass was soft. Seventh.
7. Justify (3-1)
Current form: Just perfect! Un-raced as a 2-year-old, he’s won all three starts this year while pulling down triple-digit figs. Shrugged off rival Bolt d’Oro in the Santa Anita.
Worth a wager? Loads for Baffert as justifiable fave. Believe in curses? In 1882, Apollo won the Derby as an un-raced 2-year old. None since. Nearly reverses the curse. Second best.
8. Lone Sailor (50-1)
Current form: An afterthought until he almost stole the Louisiana Derby. Gained the front, then out-kicked by Noble Indy.
Worth a wager? Got our attention. Closed into some swift splits at Louisiana to seize the moment. Still came up short. Shorter here at longer price. Popular as Durant in OKC. Evenly for 14th.
9. Hofburg (20-1)
Current form: Broke maiden at second asking. Ambitiously placed in the Florida Derby next out, he closed to be a clear second to Audible.
Worth a wager? Lightly raced, lacks seasoning. That said he’s made the most of his starts. Irad Ortiz subs for brother Jose. May bounce back faster than Francesa, but we’ll place him eighth.
10. My Boy Jack (30-1)
Current form: Late kicker sandwiched victories in the Southwest and Lexington around a fast-closing third in the longer Louisiana.
Worth a wager? Are you experienced? He is. Has made 10 starts on five different tracks for Team Desormeaux and the Don’t Tell My Wife stable. Makes a run from deep to be 12th.
11. Bolt d’Oro (8-1)
Current form: Declared winner of the San Felipe after playing bumper cars with actual winner, McKinzie. Blinked when Justify stared him down in the Santa Anita.
Worth a wager? My winter book bet took two steps back when out-toughed by McKinzie, then a clear second to Justify. He’s by Medaglia d’Oro and may stay the distance. Using in deep exotics. Fourth.
12. Enticed (30-1)
Current form: Godolphin colt won Gotham from off pace, then placed second to an aggressive Vino Rosso in the Wood. Alvarado claimed foul; stewards disagreed.
Worth a wager? Won the Gotham under wraps but with all the foul play down the lane in the Wood, he still finished well back of Vino Rosso. He’ll be behind him again in 11th.
13. Bravazo (50-1)
Current form: Got nose down to take the Risen Star at 21-1, but star fell when he checked in a distant eighth in the Louisiana.
Worth a wager? Not after “Lose”iana. Won Risen Star by the gap between Michael Strahan’s teeth for D. Wayne Lukas, then failed to show up. Maybe that was his Super Bowl. Distant 17th.
14. Mendelssohn (5-1)
Current form: Switch hitter can crush it from both sides of the rail. Won the BC Juvenile Turf last year and enters off an 18-length trouncing in the UAE Derby.
Worth a wager? Remember Mubtaahij? Lani? Thunder Snow? Past UAE winners have not fared well on Derby Day. This $3M baby is dangerous and should leave a mark. We’ve got him third.
15. Instilled Regard (50-1)
Current form: How did he get here? Won a grade 3 in January but enters off a pair of fourth-place finishes in both the Risen Star and Santa Anita Derby.
Worth a wager? Made it to the gate only when Gronkowski went on IR with a fever. Truly shocking if he wears the roses. Look elsewhere. Last of 20.
16. Magnum Moon (6-1)
Current form: Has done everything Pletcher has asked him to do. Four for four after winning the Arkansas Derby wire to window. Unfazed going 9 furlongs.
Worth a wager? Moon is rising. One of four for Pletcher is getting better with every start. Can grandson of AP Indy and Unbridled’s Song get required distance? Putting him fifth as he answers the question.
17. Solomini (30-1)
Current form: One-hit wonder never has been off board. Ran second, then third to Magnum Moon in the Rebel and Arkansas. Runner-up to Good Magic in the BC Juve.
Worth a wager? From the producers of American Pharoah. Zayat/Baffert colt has failed to make a statement, running evenly in his preps. Has one speed and it may be good enough only for 15th.
18. Vino Rosso (12-)
Current form: Midpack in the Tampa Bay, he became a player when he out-muscled Enticed down the lane to win the Wood.
Worth a wager? The result stands. Bumped Enticed twice in Wood but he was much the best after racing wide. Wants more ground; fired a 1/2-mile bullet for this. Curbing our enthusiasm. Ninth.
19. Noble Indy (30-1)
Current form: Impressive credentials. Resume now reads three for four after prevailing by a hard-fought neck after coming back again in the Louisiana.
Worth a wager? Labeled “green” and “brat” he’s the bull in the china closet. Doesn’t belong but can wreak havoc on lead. Acted up in paddock prior to defeat. Blinkers helped. Hangs in, sixth.
20. Combatant (50-1)
Current form: Solomini light! Ran third, then fourth to Magnum Moon in the Rebel and Arkansas. Step slower than Solomini.
Worth a wager? No. Asmussen trainee is another one-hit wonder who can’t seem to finish the job. Outclassed, 18th.
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