Kentucky Derby Betting: Donegal Racing Makes a Statement

The horse racing season never really rests, does it? There always seems to be some Kentucky Derby betting news. 

It was only five months ago that Orb, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, captured the 2013 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs – but in that short amount of time, enough weeks have passed for points races to officially start for the ’14 Derby.

The first points race was the Iroquois Stakes at – appropriately enough – Churchill downs, a $171,500 race that offered 10 points to the winner and four points to the runner up for a spot in next year’s Derby.

And when the Iroquois was settled, it was a pair of horses from Donegal Racing that stole the show.

Cleburne, ridden by Corey Lanerie, captured the race while another Donegal colt, Smart Cover, finished second – giving the Iowa-based racing franchise a fantastic start to the Derby season.

Led by Dale Romans – the 2012 Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s leading trainer – Cleburne and Smart Cover ran neck and neck down the stretch before Cleburne captured the race in 1:45.65 in what was considered a fast track.

While the time was impressive, the way the horses finished was even better – especially for those that like to bet on Kentucky Derby.

Cleburne and Smart Cover came in as huge underdogs – Cleburne at 34-1, Smart Cover at 26-1 – which Romans’ fellow Donegal trainer, Ray Smith, saw as a slight.

“I saw they were both in the 35-1 range (odds),” Smith told the Des Moines Register following the race. “I knew we should be in double digits, but I was like, ‘Whoa, that’s absolutely no respect.’”

Respect is something Donegal will probably get a lot of moving forward. The 10 points captured by Cleburne will go a long way when it comes to Kentucky Derby horse racing odds, and when he gets there, the Donegal experience should kick in – the group has twice competed in the derby and twice come away with third place finishes: Paddy O’Prado did the trick in 2010 and Dullahan did it in 2012.

Mena Suspended

One of the more noteworthy jockeys in the game, Miguel Mena, has been handed a three-day suspension for his role in the disqualification of Air Squadron during the opening day of Churchill Downs racing.

The suspension will cost Mena almost the entirety of September’s Kentucky racing calendar.

Mena, a native of Peru, has over 1,200 racing wins on his resume and has been competing in the United States since 2003.

Son of Curlin Making Waves

Curlin – one of the most famous American thoroughbreds of the last decade and a former Preakness winner – has some strong bloodlines on the current circuit in the form of Ride on Curlin, a two-year-old that recently set a record at Ellis Park for 5 1/2 furlongs.

Owned by Louisville natives Dan Dougherty and trainer “Bronco” Billy Gowan, Ride on Curlin was engaged in a fierce bidding war for a time – Dougherty and Gowan say they turned down $1 million for him – before the pair opted to keep the colt and run him.

Famed jockey and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Calvin Borel raved about Ride on Curlin’s potential.

“The horse just has talent,” Borel explained. “I’ve ridden a lot of good horses, and he’s one of them.”

About Tennessee Leduc

Born in Summersville Kentucky, Tennessee is an impassioned fan of horse racing, women, civilized debauchery, and... mint juleps. He writes, he reads, he listens, but above all he experiences the world he lives in.

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