2015 Kentucky Derby Contenders

When it comes to Kentucky Derby betting, knowing the contenders and top picks by the experts is a great place to start coming up with your own betting strategy for the race. Knowing what horses others have picked to do well in 2015 makes it easier to come up with a personal list of 2015 Kentucky Derby contenders.

About Kentucky Derby Contenders

There’s few things more difficult than picking Kentucky Derby contenders nearly couple months away from the race.  The first five horses on this list of contenders are fairly strong possibilities to at least make the Derby.  The bottom four are highly speculative and could easily be interchanged with four different horses.  This list will be updated frequently until race day.

The Current Top Contenders for Kentucky Derby 2015

DORTMUND:  Sired by Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.  True to his dad’s name, Dortmund is definitely big—a physically imposing colt that certainly looks like a champion.  So far in his three year old campaign he’s run like one too.  Coming off a win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita—eked out the victory by a head showing the kind of guts and toughness you want in a Derby contender.  Next up will likely compete in the Santa Anita Derby.  That’s where California Chrome first shot to prominence and a win by Dortmund could do the same for him.

UPSTART:  Disappointed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but looked very impressive in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in late January.  Now the big question is which result is more indicative of his potential.  Most racing experts think it’s the latter—he got a bad trip in the BC Juvenile and never had a chance.  Next up, the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on February 21.

TEXAS RED:  Win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile make him the presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite coming in to this season.  Took second in the San Vicente after which it was discovered that he is suffering from a foot abscess.  He’s now ‘sidelined’ for a month at a crucial point in the Derby prep season.  Trainer Keith Desormeaux thinks that he’ll be OK, citing his high volume of work in his two year old campaign.  At least Desormeaux hopes that it’ll work out like that since he’ll get at most one more race before the ‘Run For The Roses’, most likely in the Arkansas Derby or Santa Anita Derby.

AMERICAN PHAROAH:  Hasn’t raced since September but has reportedly looked sharp in training.  We won’t know for sure until he returns to competition which will likely happen in mid-March at the Rebel Stakes (3/14).  Missed the BC Juvenile due to injury but has a ton of potential if he’s healthy.

CARPE DIEM:  Second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile but has yet to make his three year old debut.  That’ll likely happen in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 2nd.  This Todd Pletcher trained colt is well regarded by railbirds who think that he’ll be even better at longer distance.

FIRING LINE:  Firing Line is 0 for 2 against Dortmund in his last two races.  Most recent outing was a second place by a head in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes.  Insiders like this horse’s feisty spirit but think that he might be at the limit of his distance.  After coming up just short at a mile and 1/16 the 1 ¼ mile distance of the Derby could be an issue.

KHOZAN:  Unraced as a two year old which puts him up against the ‘Curse of Apollo’.  That curse was named the last horse to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a two year old.  It should be mentioned that Apollo won the eighth running of the race in 1882, making it 133 years.  While there is a trend toward racing horses more lightly in their two year old campaign there’s a reason that Apollo was the last horse to win without any competition as a two year old.  Khozan is a nice horse trained by Todd Pletcher who won his maiden in January.  Just can’t see him being the one to undo over a century of precedent.

OCEAN KNIGHT:  A lot of interest in this versatile horse who started in sprints but has transitioned into longer races.  Probably not a top contender at this stage but definitely a horse to keep an eye on to see how he develops.

DAREDEVIL: Longshot to even make the race.  Finished 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  Probably better in sprints.

ITSAKNOCKOUT:  This Todd Pletcher trained horse won the Fountain of Youth after Upstart’s disqualification.  Looked good in the race but a ton of unanswered questions.  His next race—the Florida Derby—will help provide some answers.  In any case, he’s got 50 qualification points by virtue of his Fountain of Youth win which gives Pletcher options regardless of what happens in the Florida Derby.

A Big Crop of Three Year Olds

With the start of the 2015 racing season there will be somewhere between 350 and 400 three year olds that will 'declare' for the Kentucky Derby.  The nomination process is largely symbolic, with owners putting up $600 to gain eligibility for the three Triple Crown races.  With a maximum of 20 horses accepted into the Kentucky Derby field there will be a significant process of elimination among this group of three year olds.  This is done via a formal qualification procedure involving the major Derby 'prep races' in the early part of the 2015 racing season.

As you can see, the contenders for the 2015 Kentucky Derby are just starting to get listed around the Internet. Keeping up to date on the latest contenders as the 2015 race nears is important for those who are really serious about Kentucky Derby betting odds.