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 two months away from the race.  The first six 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.  One high profile contender (Khozan) has been taken off the Derby trail due to injury. This list will be updated frequently until race day.

The Current Top Contenders for Kentucky Derby 2015

AMERICAN PHARAOH:  Heading into the 3/14 Rebel Stakes horsemen had plenty of questions about this highly touted horse.  Missed the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to injury and hadn’t raced since September.  He’d never raced outside of California.  Torrential rains during the week produced a sloppy track—another ‘first’ for American Pharaoh.  You can cast all of those doubts aside.  In the definitive Derby prep performance to date American Pharaoh smoked the field winning by 6 ¾ length.  Making it all the more impressive—his right front shoe became dislodged at the start.  Translation—with just about everything working against him American Pharaoh dominated.  A serious horse that has to be the Kentucky Derby favorite at this point.  No information at this point about whether he’ll take another prep race or stay on the sidelines until the Derby.

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.  American Pharaoh set the bar very high for Dortmund to regain favorite status.

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.  Finished second in the Fountain of Youth after a DQ for interference.   Still being pointed to the Florida Derby.

CARPE DIEM:  Second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  Things didn’t look good when he was adamant about not wanting to enter the gate for the 3/2 Tampa Bay Derby.  Once they got him in, however, he turned in a very impressive performance in winning his three year old debut.  Experts think he might be even stronger at longer distances.  Not sure that any Todd Pletcher trained horse can be considered ‘under the radar’ but he’s not being considered as a top contender at this point.  That looks like a mistake as Carpe Diem answered a lot of questions with his win in Tampa.

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.

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:  Sidelined with a deep bone bruise and will miss the Kentucky Derby.

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.  May have blown his chances at qualifying for the Kentucky Derby with a fifth place run in the Tampa Bay Derby.

DAREDEVIL:  Longshot to even make the race.  Finished 11th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  Probably better in sprints.  Finished second in the Swale Stakes on March 7 but no word yet on what’s next for this Todd Pletcher trained horse.

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.