KENTUCKY DERBY MUSINGS IN FEBRUARY

The last three winners of the Kentucky Derby were trained in California and four of the last five winners came to Kentucky from the Golden State:  Nyquist, American Pharoah, California Chrome, and I’ll Have Another.  Is this a sign of dominance from the West Coast?

Hardly.

Prior to I’ll Have Another winning the Kentucky Derby in 2012, horses trained in the eastern United States won the race from 2001 through 2011.  War Emblem, winner in 2002, was sold shortly before the Kentucky Derby and his new trainer was California-based Bob Baffert, but the colt prepped for the Kentucky Derby in the Illinois Derby.

Before 2001, California horses won the Kentucky Derby for four straight years, from 1997-2000.

So, in recent history, there has been no dominant trend in western U. S. or eastern U. S. horses winning the Kentucky Derby, although there have been mini-trends wherein horses from one or the other geographical location won the race for several years in a row.

NTRA, the Blood-Horse magazine, and other racing organizations periodically publish their list of leading contenders for the Kentucky Derby.  NTRA, for example, polls members of the horse-racing media.

I have always been more attentive to what people do than what they say.  Accordingly, I consult the betting action, whether it is a sporting event or a political campaign.  Following are the current twelve top contenders for the 2017 Kentucky Derby, as determined by betting odds in Las Vegas.

Irish War Cry 2/1
Classic Empire 3/1
Uncontested 7/2
McCracken 4/1
El Areeb 5/1
Mastery 5/1
Unique Bella 6/1
Gunnevera 7/1
Running Mate 7/1
Squadron 7/1
Fact Finding 10/1
Gormley 11/1

Uncontested (the current third betting favorite), Running Mate, Squadron, and Fact Finding are not on the current NTRA list of top contenders.  NTRA has Mo Town, Practical Jute, and Royal Mo on its list, but none of them are in the top-12 betting interests in Las Vegas.

I’ll be posting occasionally on the Kentucky Derby as the big event approaches on the first Saturday in May.

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