It’s no secret who will be favored in Saturday’s delayed running of the $3 million 2020 Kentucky Derby. Here are five horses favorites we will be focusing on as we construct my Kentucky Derby 2020 bets (predictions).
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Kentucky Derby 2020 Betting Preview
Tiz the Law, four-for-four in 2020 and winner of six of seven lifetime starts, has dominated his competition this year and could be the first odds-on favorite (less than even money) in the Run for the Roses since 1992, when Arazi went off at 4-5.
But as fans with long memories will recall, Arazi faded to seventh after making a menacing wide move around the far turn of the 1 ¼-mile race for 3-year-olds, leaving 16-1 shot Lil E. Tee to key a $854.40 payoff on a $2 exacta.
The 146th running of America’s most famous horse race is a very different animal than the 1992 edition – especially given the four-month delay from it’s normal spot on the calendar on the first Saturday in May due to the coronavirus pandemic. There also will be no fans on the usually packed Churchill Downs grounds due to restrictions on public gatherings aimed at slowing the spread of the disease.
But the point remains that anyone willing to take a stand against Tiz the Law has a chance of making a life-changing score, given the array of “exotic” wagers such as superfectas, Pick 4s and the like, which weren’t available in 1992.
The question for anyone pondering a Derby bet is not whether Tiz the Law can be beaten – of course he can – but whether the Barclay Tagg-trained colt’s anticipated low odds justify backing him at that price.
On the plus side of the ledger, the son of Constitution has already run and won at the testing 1 ¼-mile Derby distance, the only horse in the field who can stake that claim. And the apparent ease with which he’s been winning suggests he has more gas in the tank if he needs it.
He’s also being handled by a veteran trainer who already has won a Derby for Tiz the Law’s owners, collectively known as Sackatoga Stables, turning the trick in 2003 with another New York-bred, Funny Cide.
But this is the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, where big fields often translate to troubled trips. And it’s worth noting that Tiz the Law’s only loss came at Churchill Downs, when he checked in third in the slop in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Cup in November.
Whether you decide that Tiz the Law is vulnerable or not, the next stop in the process remains just as important: Which other horses in the field stand the best chance of outrunning their odds and adding value to the payoffs, whether the favorite wins or finishes off the board?
That is where we will focus our attention in hopes of helping you find your way to that life changing score, or at least end the day with more money in your pocket than you started with.
First, let’s look at the likely starters in Saturday’s race, which will be broadcast nationally on NBC starting at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. With two days remaining until Tuesday’s post position draw, which will be livestreamed from 11-11:30 a.m. ET on KentuckyDerby.com and televised live on Fox Sports 2, it appears 14 colts, two geldings and a ridgling (a male horse with one or more undescended testicles) will face the starter.
First, here are the expected starters in Saturday’s race, which will be broadcast nationally on NBC starting at 2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. If there are no additional defections after the withdrawal of Art Collector on the eve of Tuesday’s post position draw, 18 colts, geldings and a ridgling (a male horse with one or more undescended testicles) will face the starter:
2020 Kentucky Derby Betting Odds
Post Horse Trainer Jockey Morning line odds
1) Finnick the Fierce Rey Hernandez Martin Garcia 50-1 – OUT
2) Max Player Steve Asmussen Ricardo Santana Jr. 30-1
3) Enforceable Mark Casse Adam Beschizza 30-1
4) Storm the Court Peter Eurton Julien Leparoux 50-1
5) Major Fed Gregory Foley James Graham 50-1
7) Money Moves Todd Pletcher Javier Castellano 50-1
8) South Bend Bill Mott Tyler Gafflione 50-1
9) Mr. Big News Bret Calhoun Gabriel Saez 50-1
10) Thousand Words Bob Baffert Florent Geroux 15-1
11) Necker Island Chris Hartman Miguel Mena 50-1
12) Sole Volante Patrick Biancone Luca Panici 30-1
13) Attachment Rate Dale Romans Joe Talamo 50-1
14) Winning Impression Dallas Stewart Joe Rocco Jr. 50-1
15) Ny Traffic Saffie Joseph Jr. Paco Lopez 20-1
16) Honor A.P. John Shiriffs Mike Smith 5-1
17) Tiz the Law Barclay Tagg Manny Franco 3-5
18) Authentic Bob Baffert John Velazquez 8-1
As the chart shows, many accomplished horses will offer attractive odds once you get past Tiz the Law.
Bet on favorites at Kentucky Derby 2020
He won’t exactly be a long shot, but he could go off in the 6-1 to 8-1 range given he lost his last prep race, the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar, to Thousand Words. The afore-referenced ridgling also is handled by a Derby winning trainer in John Shirreffs, who guided Giacomo to a shocking 50-1 upset in 2005. the son of Honor Code and grandson of A.P. Indy also will be making his third start off a layoff in the Derby, a pattern that often yields a top effort.
With such high-profile connections as Hall of Famer Bob Baffert and jockey John Velazquez, Authentic likely won’t be completely overlooked by the bettors. But I’m banking on the fact that many handicappers will be unable to put his desperate nose victory over Ny Traffic in the Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth in July out of their minds. In that 1 1/8th-mile race, Authentic opened up a 2 ½ length lead in the upper stretch and appeared to be home free when Ny Traffic rerallied and just missed catching the winner. That was just Authentic’s second race at the distance, so he has room for improvement. I’m also encouraged by the old-school mile workout that Baffert put into him last week to build his stamina.
If you like Authentic at all, you’ve got to like Ny Traffic. He’s hit the board in his last four starts, all graded stakes, while finishing close behind some of the leaders in the 3-year-old division, including injured Matt Winn Stakes winner Maxfield. Trained by the up-and-coming conditioner Saffie Joseph Jr. and ridden by Paco Gonzales, a Derby first-timer, he seems likely to be overlooked by the bettors and should offer double-digit odds. The speedy son of Cross Traffic also showed a new dimension when he rallied in the Haskell stretch run, giving his connections additional options as they plot their Derby strategy.
Last two races by colt trained by Kentuckian Dale Romans were better than they looked, as he encountered significant trouble in both. The other thing that recommends the son of Hard Spun is that he has another gear that he displayed at various stages of those races that enabled him to spurt past his competitors in just a few strikes. He won’t be close to his 50-1 morning line odds, but he’ll likely be in the 20-1 to 25-1 range and can add value to your vertical wagers if jockey Joe Talamo can work out a clean trip for a change.
If you’re looking for a real “bomb,” Money Moves may be your colt. A late entry from the barn of Derby winning trainer Todd Pletcher, the son of Candy Ride will be making just his fourth lifetime start in the Derby after winning two of his first three. That’s a tough ask, but Money Moves has been developing quickly late in his 3-year-old season and appears capable of hitting the board in Louisville. Also interesting is that Prioritize, a tough older horse who beat Money Moves by a neck in his last race at Saratoga, is being aimed for the Grade 1 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga on the same day as the Derby.