The 139th annual running of the Kentucky Derby is slated to take place on Saturday, and it's worth an early look at the odds in the event that one should desire to risk some coin in the form of betting.
Orb is emerging as the favorite over Verrazano, and if you're not feeling too bold, he's a safe bet to win the Run for the Roses. However, based on the type of prospective action, there are other bargains to check out as intriguing alternatives.
Below is a list of odds and a breakdown of the smartest bets to make entering the first leg of the Triple Crown at Louisville's Churchill Downs.
|1||Black Onyx ||Joe Bravo ||Kelly Breen ||50-1|
|2||Oxbow ||Gary Stevens ||D. Wayne Lukas ||30-1|
|3||Revolutionary||Calvin Borel||Todd Pletcher ||10-1|
|4||Golden Soul||Robby Albarado||Dallas Stewart||50-1|
|5||Normandy Invasion ||Javier Castellano ||Chad Brown ||12-1|
|6||Mylute ||Rosie Napravnik ||Tom Amoss ||15-1|
|7||Giant Finish||Jose L. Espinoza||Anthony W. Dutrow||50-1|
|8||Goldencents||Kevin Krigger||Doug O'Neill||5-1|
|9||Overanalyze||Rafael Bejarano||Todd Pletcher||15-1|
|10||Palace Malice||Mike Smith||Todd Pletcher||20-1|
|11||Lines of Battle||Ryan Moore||Aidan O'Brien||30-1|
|12||Itsmyluckyday||Elvis Trujillo||Eddie Plesa Jr.||15-1|
|13||Falling Sky||Luis Saez||John Terranova II||50-1|
|14||Verrazano ||John R. Velazquez ||Todd Pletcher ||4-1|
|15||Charming Kitten ||Edgar Prado ||Todd Pletcher ||20-1|
|16||Orb||Joel Rosario ||Claude R. McGaughey III ||7-2|
|17||Will Take Charge||Jon Court ||D. Wayne Lukas ||20-1|
|18||Frac Daddy||Victor Lebron||Kenny McPeek ||50-1|
|19||Java's War||Julien Leparoux||Kenny McPeek||15-1|
|20||Vyjack||Garrett Gomez ||Rudy Rodriguez ||15-1|
Favorite: Orb (7-2)
Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez decided to stick with Verrazano rather than saddle up with Orb, but Joel Rosario is no slouch in his own right—leading jockeys in earnings in 2013.
In addition to dazzling during workouts, the personality that Orb is showcasing is making him a favorite amongst fans in addition to bettors. The Guardian captured this humorous moment and labeled it its sports photo of the day on Tuesday:
Orb has a marquee Grade 1 victory in the Florida Derby to his credit entering this race, and the dirt track of Gulfstream Park is ideal in preparation for the terrain he will encounter on Saturday.
That same track in Florida was the site of Orb's two previous wins, which should only help his chances of thriving at Churchill Downs even more.
Whether it's an outright win bet, an across the board wager or a different proposition, laying money on Orb to win, place or show is an extremely wise decision given his undefeated record in 2013.
Underrated contender: Normandy Invasion (12-1)
Odds are honestly pretty good for Normandy Invasion, yet he is considered likely to come in fifth behind the likes of Goldencents and Revolutionary.
This is a deep field, and Normandy Invasion has the same 8-1 odds as the aforementioned two horses. An extraordinary burst toward the finish at the Wood Memorial Stakes nearly resulted in Verrazano's first loss, but Normandy invasion was just a bit too little, too late.
Still, that gives trainer Chad Brown hope that his thoroughbred can contend with anyone and should make for a solid showing in the Kentucky Derby.
Normandy Invasion has only 44 points in the Derby standings, and only one prior victory under his belt. Having said that, he can't possibly be discounted after his run in Ozone Park. This is a horse that is ready to break out with a big performance on horse racing's big stage.
Dark Horses: Mylute (15-1) and Oxbow (30-1)
This is where the real money can be made—betting on a heavy underdog to make it to the winners circle. It's certainly a risky proposition, but amongst the long shots, Mylute and Oxbow are the best of the rest.
It's easy to root for Mylute, too, because female jockey Rosie Napravnik has the mount. She finished ninth in the 2011 Derby–the best finish by a woman in the renowned race's history—and there is at least reasonable hope that her horse could shock the world.
Mylute finished second in the Louisiana Derby, finishing just behind Churchill Downs contender Revolutionary.
Mylute has a storied heritage, as Ted Lewis of The Advocate reports. The horse's father is Midnight Lute, whom legendary trainer Bob Baffert called the best thoroughbred he's ever trained. 1998 Kentucky Derby winner Real Quiet is Mylute's grandfather.
GoldMark Farm head trainer Todd Qast gave Mylute a resounding endorsement, too, per Lewis:
Mylute could have dominated the sprint division, but he’s a massive, good-looking horse who’s shown he can go for distance. I worked with Grindstone (the 1996 Kentucky Derby winner) and Charismatic (the 1999 winner), and he fits the mold of the kind of horse who can overcome adversity.
As for Oxbow, three-time Kentucky Derby champion Gary Stevens will be back for the first time in eight years, and his experience should give his explosive horse a massive edge.
A disappointing fifth-place finish at the Arkansas Derby marred the odds for Oxbow entering this Triple Crown race (h/t Equibase.com), but it was simply a matter of Stevens getting used to the horse in his first time mounting.
Veteran trainer D. Wayne Lukas and Stevens form a strong team around Oxbow, who should have a much better run now that Stevens has a better feel on how to control the talented horse. Don't be surprised if he roars down the final stretch and makes a significant push for the top three.
Note: All statistics and race history, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of KentuckyDerby.com.