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Road to Kentucky Derby: Minus Baffert, Potholes Everywhere

The Kentucky Derby is far more interesting when Bob Baffert is involved. Love him or hate him, Baffert almost always has the best horses. Churchill Downs put itself ahead of the sport and made its own Kentucky Derby news by not allowing Baffert back in 2024. So who suffers the most? The dwindling legion of fans who want to see the best horses on the first Saturday in May. Chances are that won’t happen this year because Baffert trains arguably the best 3-year-old in Nysos. The folks who work in the shadow of the Twin Spires don’t really care, though, because they’ll still rake in plenty of cash on May 4. And isn’t that what really matters?


Road to Kentucky Derby: Minus Baffert, Potholes Everywhere
Road to Kentucky Derby: Minus Baffert, Potholes Everywhere

Last Weekend a Disaster for the Sport of Kings

There were a pair of 105-point races last weekend – in California and Florida – with a total of nine horses competing. That is pathetic in its own right, and does nothing to help the quality of the Kentucky Derby field. To make matters worse, Baffert horses have accumulated 120 of the 168 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, preventing other trainers from claiming them. It’s not like there are any good California horses this year anyway, but that’s not the point. None of this matters when players are presented with the Kentucky Derby odds, but it still stinks.

Dornoch could very well have won the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream anyway, but the scratches of Locked, Speak Easy, Victory Avenue and Merit made it easier. It was so bad that an allowance race the day before the Fountain of Youth may have contained the Kentucky Derby winner. Conquest Warrior is 2-for-2 as a 3-year-old after easily defeating Merit as the 3-5 favorite in the horse racing odds. Baffert, meanwhile, ran 1-2 in the San Felipe Stakes.

Saturday’s Prep: Tampa Bay Derby

  1. The Grade 3 Tampa Derby is a 105-point race with the winner earning 50 and a likely spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. It will be run at 1 1/16 miles as Race 11. Post time is 5:18 p.m. ET. FanDuel TV provides coverage.

Some heavy hitters decided to make the trip across the peninsula from Gulfstream to participate in Tampa Bay Downs’ signature race. Among those are Chad Brown, who trains two horses in the field, and reigning Eclipse Award winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., who rides Good Money. Las Vegas odds have Good Money listed at a generous 15-1 on the morning line. Good Money makes his second career start and also though his Beyer speed figure was a bit light in winning his debut, Irad wouldn’t give up a ton of business at Gulfstream unless he thought he could win.

Domestic Product (8-5), Brown’s other horse, will be part of the early pace, as will No More Time (7-5). The latter won the Sam F. Davis Stakes, the local prep for the Tampa Bay Derby, last month. Catire Vizcaya, a 30-1 longshot, could also be an early speed factor. Irad, who rarely has his horse out of position, should be sitting right behind and ready to pounce in the stretch.

Head for the BetUS racebook to put a few bucks on Good Money to win. Irad at a price is a rarity – especially with Chad Brown, so don’t miss the opportunity to get him at about 5-1.

Two horses have won the Tampa Bay Derby and the Kentucky Derby: Street Sense (2007) and Super Saver (2010).



Questions of the Day

Why can’t Bob Baffert compete in the Kentucky Derby?

Medina Spirit, trained by Baffert, crossed the wire first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby, but was later discovered to have illegal drugs in his system. Baffert has not raced in the Derby since.

Who is favored to win the Tampa Bay Derby?

No More Time is the 7-5 morning-line favorite to win the Tampa Bay Derby.

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