Top Five Contenders in Early Kentucky Derby Betting

The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs is approaching, and it is a deep and talented crop of three-year-olds this year that will do battle in the two most exciting minutes in sports.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has a strong one-two punch with American Pharoah and Dortmund, the top two betting choices for the race.

Baffert is no stranger to the Churchill Downs winner’s circle, winning the Run for the Roses three times. However, his talented pair of runners will likely face 18 other foes in a full field that will be the best wagering race of the year.

Here is an early look at the top five contenders in early Kentucky Derby betting:

American Pharoah 5-2

Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, this colt was the Eclipse Award winning juvenile of 2014 after winning the Del Mar Futurity (G1) and Frontrunner (G1) last year. The colt was going to be the betting favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), but a foot issue knocked him out just days before the race.

It took nearly six months for Baffert to get him back to the races, and he did not disappoint. He came off the bench by winning the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park by 6 ¼ lengths, and then won the Arkansas Derby (G1) on April 11 in his final prep for Louisville.

Baffert has won the Run for the Roses three times but not since War Emblem wired the field in 2002.

Dortmund 4-1

Baffert has quite the one-two punch as the undefeated Dortmund is in his stable as well. The colt is a son of Big Brown, who won the 2008 Kentucky Derby and came into the race undefeated. He went on to win the Preakness Stakes (G1) but his Triple Crown bid was derailed in New York where he was eased.

Dortmund had a couple of tough battles with Firing Line, beating him by a head in both the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and the Robert B. Lewis (G3). The colt has been dominant in his last two starts, winning the San Felipe (G2) and Santa Anita Derby (G1).

Carpe Diem 13-2

Trainer Todd Pletcher figures to start four runners in the Kentucky Derby, and this colt gives him his best chance of improving on his 1 for 40 record in the Kentucky Derby.

The son of Giant’s Causeway was purchased at auction for $1.6 million and started paying dividends soon after, breaking his maiden in his debut at Saratoga and then winning the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in his stakes debut.

The colt suffered his lone loss in five career starts when running second to Texas Red in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) as the beaten favorite.

Four months later, he made his three-year-old debut by easily winning the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and then took the Toyota Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland in his final Derby prep race.

Mubtaahij 10-1

This colt is trying to buck a trend as he earned his way into the Kentucky Derby by winning the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai. In addition, it is pretty easy to pronounce the names of all of the previous Derby winners, but no so much with this guy.

The colt’s name is pronounced Moob-tah-HEEJ, and while he did not beat much in his win in Dubai, he did it in impressive fashion, drawing away to win by eight lengths.

In addition, he is trained by one of the world’s most respected trainers in Mike DeKock. The colt has won four of his last five starts since switching to dirt. He lost his first two career starts, both on turf.

Materiality 14-1

Along with Dortmund, this colt comes into the Run for the Roses without ever tasting defeat. The Pletcher trainee broke his maiden in his debut, ran a huge speed figure winning the ungraded Islamorada Handicap, and was the winner of the Florida Derby (G1) in his most recent outing.

The son of 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex, the colt’s Beyer Speed Figure earned in the Florida Derby is the top number among all of the Derby contenders.

The main knock on this colt is that he did not race as a two-year-old, making his debut on Jan. 11. The last Kentucky Derby winner that did not race as a juvenile was Apollo way back in 1882.

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