Let’s be honest, if this race weren’t the Kentucky Derby 10-12 of the connections wouldn’t consider entering. Talk about overmatched. And not just by Tiz the Law. The other contenders like Thousand Words, Authentic, Honor A.P., and NY Traffic would be odds-on against a field of any of the rest of the competition by themselves.
Then throw in the draw, which saw the cream of the 3-year-old crop all land on the outside and you are looking at two races. Contenders and pretenders.
Using the Daily Racing Form’s Beyer figures as a barometer, horses 1-through-9 are tosses. To win the Kentucky Derby in September, you need a triple-digit Beyer on your resume. None of the first nine have it and as charming a story as it would be for King Guillermo to win for owner Victor Martinez, the ex-MLB All-Star, his 99 in the Tampa Bay Derby in March isn’t going to wow anybody.
The truth is you have either be a collector of winning tickets or live and breathe chalk to take the morning line on Tiz the Law, who will break from gate 17 under Manny Franco. Don’t be stunned if the son of Constitution drifts up from the 3-5 price. There are too many people who play the Derby to believe he will stay that low.
The last time a horse was listed at odds this short for the Kentucky Derby was East Goer for the 1989 race. Easy Goer finished second to Sunday Silence that day in what became another great racing rivalry.
There is also the track factor. The only time Tiz the Law failed to win was over the Churchill Downs strip on a sloppy surface in November. There are horses that simply don’t like tracks — remember the brilliant Point Given — and if you are looking for a reason to go elsewhere, there it is. You could also hope he bounces off the 109 in the Travers.
Who are the horses that could pull the upset? And, remember, if you think the favorite is vulnerable here, the rewards will be juicy because of how heavy a favorite Tiz the Law looms.
10. Thousand Words (15-1)
When you see a Bob Baffert-trainee at this price on the morning line it tells you everything about how morning-line maker Mike Battaglia feels about the favorite. Thousand Words finally got his act together in the Shared Belief at Del Mar in his last start. He rang up a 104 Beyer in scoring a wire-to-wire victory over Honor A.P. Have to think this price will be lower come post time simply because of the Baffert factor. The negative? The Shared Belief was in a four-horse race. and Thousand Words got an incredibly soft second quarter. There is no way the trip in the Derby will be as comfortable with 17 foes.
16. Honor A.P. (5-1)
Couldn’t get to Thousand Words in the Shared Belief. Still, comes from top connections with trainer John Shirreffs and jockey Mike Smith. The horse is into a pattern in his five starts. 2-1-2-1-2 …. could it continue with another “1.” He’s 5-1 on the morning line and wouldn’t be stunning to see his price move North.
“Right now as a trainer you’re focused on your horse,” Shirreffs said. “Everything that is going on around you is just stuff, you know what I mean? The main thing is watching your horse and taking care of it. I think for us, our focus is somewhere else.”
18. Authentic (8-1)
Another Baffert trainee. Won the Haskell at Monmouth, which the trainer seems to own. The son of Into Mischief barely held off NY Traffic at the wire. Hanging on for dear life against NY Traffic doesn’t lead to the belief he has a knockout blow that would earn him the roses.
“My horses are doing well. They’re both training well, they look healthy, and they’re working well. I think they are both threats,” Baffert, who also won the Kentucky Derby in 1997, 1998, and 2002, told Horseracingnation.com.
Oh, and in case you think history can repeat itself. Finnick the Fierce is 50-1 from post one with Martin Garcia. First, you have to love the tenacity of FTF, a one-eyed horse that was hit with dirt in his good eye during a seventh-place finish in the Blue Grass.
Hunch players will look at past performances and see the lone loss on Tiz the Law’s resume came in the Kentucky Jockey Club when he was outdueled for second place by Finnick the Fierce over the sloppy going at Churchills Downs.