2016 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. The Kentucky Derby will bring together the best three year old race horses in the world on May 7, 2016. 

Listed below are the horses in order of posit position:

TROJAN NATION (Morning Line Odds 50-1):  He's the 81-1 longshot we were talking about in our profile of Outwork.  Never finished higher than third in five MSW's trying to break his maiden.  Got a perfect pace and a weak field to finish second in the Blue Grass.  Probably not among the top 25 horses in the state of California.  Not a good idea to bet a horse to 'break his maiden' in the Kentucky Derby.

SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS (Morning Line Odds 20-1):  Won the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park.  Fifth in the Rebel Stakes, rebounded to finish second in the Arkansas Derby.  Has a 'cult following' but serious horse players very concerned about his tendency to find traffic and not get out of it.  His proponents point to his 'bred for distance' pedigree and his consistency.  With the exception of the Rebel Stakes has finished first or second in every one of his eight career races.  The big question is the level of competition in those races which is well below what he'll face on the first Saturday in May. 

CREATOR (Morning Line Odds 10-1):  Took six races to break his maiden but has performed well in the two stakes events he's entered—both Kentucky Derby prep races at Arkansas' Fair Grounds Park.  Took third in the Rebel Stakes, won the Arkansas Derby with a very strong closing effort and a nice ride from jockey Ricardo Santana.  Was the big winner in the Arkansas Derby and the beneficiary of the bad showing by Bob Baffert's Cupid.  Now Cupid is off the Derby trail and Creator is heading to Churchill Downs.  Racing experts still trying to figure him out.  If the race sets up right for him could close his way to victory.

MO TOM (Morning Line Odds 20-1):  To listen to his trainer Tom Amoss talk he's a better closer than Zenyatta in the 2010 Breeders' Cup.  Has disappointed in his two prep races but Amoss has made jockey Corie Lanerie the scapegoat.  You can write off the problems he's faced on bad racing luck, bad rides from the jockey or whatever but excuses don't win in the Kentucky Derby.  A likely non-factor.

GUN RUNNER (Morning Line Odds 10-1):  Current leader in the Kentucky Derby qualification points standings.  Won the Louisiana Derby and Risen Star at Fair Grounds but neither races had a particularly fast pace or, for that matter, impressive competitive depth.  Won't race again until the Kentucky Derby so we won't have a chance to find out more until the first Saturday in May.  Steve Asmussen trained.   Has reportedly been training well at Churchill Downs for whatever that's worth.

MY MAN SAM (Morning Line Odds 20-1):  Took second in his stakes race debut in the Blue Grass.  Downside:  unimpressive field in the Blue Grass this year and a slow pace.  Upside:  showed some decent speed in his previous races.  Might be worth a look underneath on exotics.

OSCAR NOMINATED (Morning Line Odds 20-1):  Veteran owners thought so little of Oscar Nominated they didn't bother nominating him for the Triple Crown—didn't think it was worth a $600 outlay though they nominated several other horses.  Then Oscar Nominated goes and wins the Grade 2 Spiral Stakes as a 21-1 longshot.  The 2016 Spiral Stakes was a bizarre event held at Turfway Park, better known as Pete Rose's favorite gambling haunt.  Race was run on synthetic turf in 50 MPH winds and gusts strong enough to blow over infield Porta-Potties.  That sounds pleasant.  But Oscar Nominated has enough points to get into the Kentucky Derby and owners Ken and Sarah Ramsey will pay the $200,000 fee to supplement him.  Nothing about the horse really suggests Kentucky Derby contender.

LANI (Morning Line Odds 30-1):  Winner of the UAE Derby which is essentially a 'free pass' into the Kentucky Derby.  Looks like another overmatched shipper from the Middle East.  Three career races—two in Japan plus the UAE Derby.  Nothing to suggest that he'll be able to hang with the big, talented field he'll face at Churchill Downs.

DESTIN (Morning Line Odds 15-1):  Want a real question mark?  Destin won the March 12 Tampa Bay Derby and before that the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs.  Ran a 100 Beyer in the Derby and for that reason his connections have kept him out of any more prep races.  Will run the Kentucky Derby on an 8 week layoff.  Quality connections to be sure—trained by Todd Pletcher, jockey Javier Castellano.  Probably an early Derby pace setter that fades out of the money.

WHITMORE (Morning Line Odds 20-1):  Ran well in the three Kentucky Derby prep races at Oaklawn Park, finishing second in the Southwest Stakes and Rebel Stakes, third in the Arkansas Derby.  Trained by Ron Moquett, horse experts generally like Whitmore but have serious concerns about his ability to compete at more than a mile.

EXAGGERATOR (Morning Line Odds 8-1):  Earned a handful of Kentucky Derby qualification points in last year's Delta Downs Derby Jackpot as a two year old.  Punched his ticket to Churchill Downs with a win in a sloppy and muddy Santa Anita Derby.  A strong presence in the other two Kentucky Derby prep races at Santa Anita, finishing second in the San Vincente to Nyquist.  Took third in the San Vincente behind two other potential Derby runners, Mor Spirit and Danzing Candy.  Many handicappers think the 103 Beyer he ran in the Santa Anita Derby is dubious.  Trainer Keith Desormeaux, his brother Kent Desormeux the jockey.  Still a lot of questions about this colt but his connections love his versatility and a horse that can handle the mud is a nice bonus at Churchill Downs in early May.

TOM'S READY (Morning Line Odds 30-1):  Finished second in the Louisiana Derby.  Trained by underrated Dallas Stewart, Tom's Ready has yet to win in his brief (three races) career.  He's improved every time out but has it been enough to make him a Kentucky Derby contender?  Doubtful.

NYQUIST (Morning Line Odds 3-1) :  Before the Florida Derby the horse racing media was all on board the Mohaymen bandwagon.  They're completely inexplicable sometimes.  All we heard about last spring was that American Pharoah had 'never been tested' and 'never faced adversity' and thus had no chance in the Kentucky Derby.  Spoiler alert—he won the Kentucky Derby and went on to become the first Triple Crown winner in over 30 years.  Nyquist, trained by Doug O'Neill and named after Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist, has seven career races and seven career wins.  No rap against Mohaymen, but the racing media were convinced that Mohaymen had a huge edge over Nyquist.  That was until he won the Florida Derby while Mohaymen finished out of the money.  Nyquist will almost certainly be the Kentucky Derby morning line favorite.

MOHAYMEN (Morning Line Odds 10-1):  Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, this horse was the presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite until his loss in the Florida Derby.  For some reason, Mohaymen was the darling of the horse racing media over Nyquist early in the season Now five wins in six career races with four coming in Grade 2 stakes events.  Won the Remsen and Nashua at Aqueduct as a two year old, won the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park as a three year old.  4th in the Florida Derby in a very lackluster effort that has many of the aforementioned horse racing media types backtracking.   He either didn't like the wet track for the Florida Derby, it was just an 'off day' or he's regressing.  Probably won't know for sure until the first Saturday in May.

OUTWORK (Morning Line Odds 15-1):  Sired by Uncle Mo, Outwork won the Wood Memorial and finished second in the Tampa Bay Derby.  Other than that, two wins in allowance races—one as a three year old and one as a two year old.  The Wood had a brutally slow pace and he had to hold off an 81-1 maiden down the stretch.  His 93 Beyer in the Wood is mitigated somewhat by a 101 in the Tampa Bay Derby.  His proponents say he's 'sneaky fast' while most handicappers give him high marks for grit and toughness.  An intriguing possibility.

SHAGAF (Morning Line Odds 20-1):  Was supposed to put on a show in the Wood Memorial, instead he was done early and finished fifth.  Picked up 50 points winning the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct and that's enough to get him in the race.  Concern that he's reached the upper limit of his distance at best, just isn't progressing at worst. 

MOR SPIRIT (Morning Line Odds 12-1):  Bob Baffert's only Kentucky Derby runner with Cupid off the Triple Crown trail.  Won last year's Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity as a two year old.  Won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and finished in the money at the other Santa Anita prep races taking second in both the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby.  Racing wags think he'll be a different horse on a fast track and could be a factor at Churchill if that occurs on Derby day. 

MAJESTO (Morning Line Odds 30-1):  Majesto is an interesting horse and has been pointed to the Kentucky Derby following a runner up performance behind Nyquist in the Florida Derby.  Raced twice as a two year old finishing second and third in Maiden Special Weight Events.  Finished third  to start his three year old campaign and got his first win in another MSW in late February.  All he's done since then is enter the Grade 1 Florida Derby in his stakes debut and finish second to the Kentucky Derby favorite.  Not much of a resume to go on but is getting a lot of buzz among railbirds.  Half brother to two Grade 1 winners-Meadow Breeze, the winner of the Grade 1 Matron Stakes as a juvenile and Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze.  Keep an eye on this horse's workouts—he may be a surprise contender in the Kentucky Derby and could even more likely prosper later in his three year old career.

BRODY'S CAUSE (Morning Line Odds 12-1):  Won the Blue Grass Stakes as Todd Pletcher's Zulu laid an egg.  7th in the Tampa Bay Derby, 3rd in the 2015 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.  Won the Breeders' Futurity.  He does well at Keeneland obviously but does have a win at Churchill Downs in his second career race (MSW).  Most experts think he's got promise but still a cut below the top horses in the field.  Could blossom later this year.

DANZING CANDY (Morning Line Odds 15-1):  Won the San Felipe Stakes, finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby.  So far he's shown speed but little more.  Trained by Cliff Sise Jr., there are rumors afoot that he'll bypass the Kentucky Derby and target the Preakness Stakes.  For now, he's still 'in' the Derby.

A Big Crop of Three Year Olds

With the start of the 2016 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 2016 racing season.

As you can see, the contenders for the 2016 Kentucky Derby are just starting to get listed around the Internet. Keeping up to date on the latest contenders as the 2016 race nears is important for those who are really serious about Kentucky Derby betting odds.