Mike Tierney lists five horses to watch in the Kentucky Derby.
The best from out west, with four wins and a second in six starts. Trainer Doug O’Neill, who prepped the 2012 champion, adjusted workouts to positive results. Pedigree suggests the distance will be no problem. A concern: Jockey Kevin Krigger is a Derby newbie who until recently had never won a Grade 1 stakes race.
2. Normandy Invasion
Inclusion here is based more on potential than results. Just one win in five tries, but he was a late-charging runner-up in his previous outing despite a disadvantaged trip, then galloped out impressively. Jockey Javier Castellano opted for Normandy over top contender Revolutionary. Could be peaking at an opportune time.
A Derby win somehow has eluded accomplished trainer Shug McGaughey. Orb has settled down in the starting gate after skittishness contributed to three subpar efforts last year. His mid-pack running style is suited to this race. Ideally bred for the Derby distance, evidenced by two decisive wins at 1 1/8 miles. The one to beat.
No wins in his first three races, nothing but wins in his past three. The second best among trainer Todd Pletcher’s awesome foursome is resourceful enough to adjust his running style based on the pace. Fortunate to pick up Calvin Borel, the only jockey to win three Derbys in a four-year span (2007-10).
A 4-for-4 record alone should be enough to send him off as the favorite. Push-button acceleration is an asset in a large field. One downside: He was unraced at age 2, a trait last associated with a Derby winner in 1882. Another: Jockey John Velazquez is healing from a scary spill. Another: iffy breeding for the 1 1/4 miles.