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2013 Kentucky Derby
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It's the time of the year for mint juleps and overzealous hats. The Kentucky Derby is upon us and the odds are starting to narrow down. With the jockeys finalized and the pre-Kentucky races all done, it's time to look at the field.
The latest news to come out is that three-time winning jockey Calvin Borel has picked up the mount on Revolutionary. Already one of the favorites to win, Borel may be the deciding factor to push Revolutionary to the front. Borel's previous Derby wins came in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
Fellow jockey, Javier Castellano was Revolutionary's previous rider, but he decided to go a different route with Normandy Invasion. Castellano has slowly become one of the top jockeys in the horse racing market. Both he and Borel would like to put their disappointing runs from 2012 behind them (16th and 19th place, respectively).
A lot of the talk from the sporting world is coming in on Goldencents as Louisville's men's basketball head coach, Rick Pitino, owns five percent of him. Many will be pushing for Goldencents because of that and also because he won the Santa Anita Derby a few weeks ago something that I'll Have Another (last year's Kentucky Derby winner) also did.
More notable jockeys include John Velazquez who will be sticking with Verrazano even though he suffered a broken rib and chipped bone on his wrist after an Apr. 7 incident. That allowed Joel Rosario to mount Orb, who wasn't even listed in the field a month ago. However, both Orb and Verrazano can now be found at the top of most odds.
Of course, jockeys are important, but all-in-all, it's the horse that wins the race. And even though some of the bigger jockey names gravitate toward the favorites, that's not always the key to victory in the Kentucky Derby. I'll Have Another won last year at close to 15-1 odds while 2009 and 2005 saw two horses at near 50-1 odds take the win. It's been five years since one of the true favorites actually won with the last one being Big Brown back in 2008. All this means is that you can't just study the top five favorites, you have to expand your knowledge deeper into the field because it's so unpredictable.
Black Onyx isn't a favorite of many, but he has won on dirt, turf and synthetic tracks which show his versatility. As for Lines of Battle, the Kentucky Derby will be his first start on a dirt track. Palace Malice is another horse in the middle of the pack that should be looked at with jockey Mike Smith (2005 winner). Normandy Invasion is slowly becoming a favorite to some, but it should be noted he hasn't won his last three races, whereas most of the other favorites are coming off wins.
Itsmyluckyday seems to be on a lot of tongues. He was one of the top favorites at the end of March, but has seen his stock slide lately, mainly because of a loss to Orb in his most recent race. Still, Itsmyluckyday has won five of his last nine races which not many horses have done.
Overanalyze and Oxbow are two more horses that aren't exactly favorites, but will be getting some love from bettors. Overanalyze is coming off an Apr. 13 win at the Arkansas Derby and is trained by Todd Pletcher who happens to also train bigger names likes Revolutionary, Verrazano and Palace Malice. As for Oxbow, his stock has taken a hit lately, but he will be mounted by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Gary Stevens.
While the favorites get all of the press, it's always important to look at the lesser horses that have good backgrounds. It's always interesting to see what other people are picking and KentuckyDerby.com has their own section of 'Expert Picks' to look at. Maybe a recent win will help propel the winner this year much like it did for I'll Have Another in 2012.