Mike Jr’s 2015 Kentucky Derby Picks

2015 Kentucky Derby

KentuckyDerbyLogo2015_298Here we are again, folks! This is the most exciting Saturday of the year as we prepare for this year’s Kentucky Derby. This year’s field is nothing short of spectacular and is quite possibly one of the most talented line-ups we have seen in a while. You usually hear that every year from the television broadcasters, no matter what the field looks like, but this year it is absolutely true and should provide us with one heck of a Derby! As a matter of fact, I feel like this year’s Derby is going to shake out one of two ways. Either we are about to see a great payoff in this one… or we might just witness a Super horse in the making. Personally, I’m leaning towards the payoff, but either outcome is fine by me! Let’s get started.

American PharoahThe morning line favorite is American Pharoah at 5/2. I look for that price to change the closer we get to post time, as the public is truly enamored with this horse. Personally, I don’t believe he should have been the favorite, but I’ll get to that in a minute. That being said, there is no doubt that American Pharoah is one of the top contenders in this race. He is undefeated in his last 4 starts, including a runaway victory in the Arkansas Derby by 8 lengths.  Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by last year’s Derby winner, Victor Espinoza, American Pharoah will be one to watch. He does have a few concerns here, though. For starters he has drawn the 18th post. Baffert can say what he wants, but this is not the ideal slot for him. Also, he is far from being the lone speed in this race. His biggest problem will be his stablemate coming out of the 8th slot.

DortmundDortmund is second on the morning line at 3 to 1 and in my opinion, should have been the morning line favorite. Another Baffert horse, Dortmund is undefeated in 6 career starts. What I like about Dortmund is that no matter what he has gone up against in those 6 starts, he has found a way to win and has shown some serious passion for winning. In the Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity, he came from a close third in the stretch to winning in a 3 way head bob. Again in the Grade 3 Robert B Lewis, he came from 2nd in the stretch to winning in a 2 way head bob. As a matter of fact, he has gained ground in every race he has been in and has shown that he can rate. Alydar & AffirmedAny other time, if the two top contenders in this race were just Dortmund and American Pharoah, I would give it a coin toss as to who would come out on top. I would be leaning towards Dortmund. But this isn’t going to be like any other Derby. So let me just put this out there now- if a Super horse emerges here, I would say it is one of these two, my loyalties swaying towards Dortmund. If that happens, we may see these two duke it out through the Triple Crown trail like Affirmed and Alydar did in ’78 (you know, back when I was 3, lol.) Needless to say, this would make for an exciting time in horse racing, so I’m certainly not opposed to seeing it unfold that way. But…

Firing LineThere is a ton of front end speed in this race and it is going to take a Super horse to win it on or near the lead. I look for the fractions to be much higher than they have been in year’s past and I believe that all that speed is going to take its toll.  Not only are American Pharoah and Dortmund going to be on or near the lead, there are 5 other potential horses that are going to do the same. Materiality sits in the 3 spot and is undefeated in 3 career starts, including a front end win in the Florida Derby. As long as he gets a clean break, he should be out front early. Remember I mentioned the two head bob wins of Dortmund’s? Those wins were over Firing Line, who shipped down to Sunland and ran away with a 14 length victory in the Sunland Derby. One thing that is interesting about Firing Line is that he won his maiden race in come from behind fashion. Carpe DiemKeep that in mind, because to win this one he may want to revert back to that form. If he does, he’ll be a serious threat. If not, he’ll be in the bundle of horses fighting for the front-end lead. Stanford missed the win in the Louisiana Derby by a neck and is another who’ll try and go to the lead early. Carpe Diem needs to get out front and quick, sitting in the 2 slot. He likes to be on the lead, as well and will either have to charge forward or get stuck in traffic. Right beside him in the dreaded one slot is Ocho Ocho Ocho, also a front runner who will desperately need to get out and going quick. All of these horses like to go out quick and that is going to make for one big suicide speed on the front end. Throw in other possible front runners like Upstart, Mr. Z and Tencendur, and we’re set up for the chance at a big payday as this multi-horse speed duel will inevitably burn out most are all of these contenders.

International StarWhich leads us to the cavalry charge of mid-pack to late running horses that should pick off the rest of this field (and pay nicely, I might add.) Normally, at this point in my article I give you my “value” and “longshot” plays. There is a ton of both in this field with this pace set-up! But I’ll do my best. For starters and just to put it out there in case you missed it, I will put a bet down on Firing Line, in hopes that he makes a late charge and doesn’t get tangled up in the speed duel or traffic. If there is true value in this field, my gut says it’s him. But I’m not sold on him making a late run, so I have to consider Frosted at 15 to 1 on the morning line. He actually has the top speed rating in this field and the best 1 1/8 time for his win in the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. I’m almost positive that Frosted is the horse dad will pick (this happened to me last year), so for my personal choice I’m going with International Star at 20 to 1 on the morning line. I’ve loved the horse since the Le Comte and I think he is ready to make that charge to victory here.

Danzig MoonFor longshots, I have to look at Danzig Moon at 30 to 1. Toss out his Tampa Bay Derby flop and focus on his 2nd place finish in the Blue Grass. He made some serious strides in that race and I look for him to perform well in the Derby. For my second longshot choice, I wanted to go with Far Right, but I just can’t handle him in the 20 slot. It might work to his advantage, especially with Mike Smith in the irons, but he’ll have to prove it to me. Instead, I’m going with El Kabeir at 30 to 1. What I like about El Kabeir is that he practically bounced in the Wood Memorial, even with his 3rd place finish.  Sometimes a bounce before a big race is a blessing. He didn’t wear himself out and pulled up enough to get the points he needed. I look for a big run from him in the Derby, especially with Calvin Borel onboard. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he makes it to the rail for a ground saving trip. Good luck everybody and I sincerely hope that you have an exciting and profitable Kentucky Derby!

****Update- There is a chance that Stanford may not start Saturday. If so, Frammento will get in. If he does, he is definitely one to consider for your longshot/exotic wagers at a huge price.



The following two tabs change content below.
Mike Jr, eldest son of Mike Lane Sr, is co-lead author at and was raised on thoroughbred horse racing and handicapping. Although father and son often butt heads on their selections, they both have much love and admiration for the sport. Mike Jr. brings a new, fresh perspective to horse racing and is often in search of new angles to try.

Latest posts by Mike Lane Jr (see all)

Leave a Reply