Usually, there’s good news and bad news about trying to pick a Kentucky Derby winner, and this year is no exception. It’s always difficult because the entrants are equine adolescents who are still growing and developing, none will have run the Derby distance of 1 ¼ miles, and the big field of 20 horses makes bumping and jostling inevitable, putting a premium on racing luck. The good news is that, in the absence of a strong favorite, the above factors conspire to ensure a good payout no matter who wins.
Betting on favorites isn’t much fun, so I’m planning to ignore the likely, lukewarm betting choices—Dialed In and Uncle Mo—in favor of a four-horse, $2 exacta box of mid-range picks, costing me $24. My selections will be Archarcharch, the Arkansas Derby winner whose morning-line odds are 10-1; Shackleford, who should be at or near the early lead at 12-1; Midnight Interlude (10-1), who won the Santa Anita Derby from a far-outside post after being momentarily knocked off stride in the home stretch; and late-running Nehro (6-1), who came up just short in a couple of 1 1/8-milers and should benefit from the added distance, despite a poor post position.
That’ll be a 1-14-15-19 ticket. In order of preference my picks are 1. Nehro, 2. Archarcharch, 3. Midnight Interlude and 4. Shackleford. The exacta should be worth more than $100 if any of the four finish 1-2.
I’ll also put a what-the-heck $5 win ticket on Pants on Fire, who won the tough Louisiana Derby. I like his odds of 20-1 and his rider, Rosie Napravnik, who’d be the first female jockey to win the race.
The best idea, of course, is to make your own choices, but even if you don’t, try to watch the race. It’s always a great show.