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A closer look at the 140th Kentucky Derby

Here’s a capsule look at the 140th Kentucky Derby (Post time: 6:24 p.m., NBC)

(Note: After Hoppertunity — which drew the No. 11 post — was scratched Thursday, Pablo Del Monte was entered as an “also eligible” but was also scratched, leaving the Derby with a 19-horse field. As a result, the 10 inside horses have been moved one post position to the outside. For example, Vicar’s in Trouble moves from the No. 1 post to the 2, Harry’s Holiday goes from the 2 to the 3, and so on, but all horses will retain the same betting number.)

BN* Name ML* Br.* BB* Career Earnings

1. Vicar’s in Trouble 30-1 (La.) (98) $788,900

Trainer: Mike Maker/Jockey: Rosie Napravnik

Louisiana Derby winner likes to run on the lead and trainer Mike Maker said he’ll let the horse place himself out of the gate. “If it’s on the lead so be it, if it’s 10th so be it.” Wouldn’t mind a wet track and scored big on a track listed as “good.”

Rosie Napravnik gets her third mount on a Derby horse. Her previous mounts resulted in fifth and ninth place finishes.

Beware: Vicar’s in Trouble would be the first Louisiana-bred to win a Ky. Derby. Distance doesn’t appear to be his game; the 98 Beyer was recorded in a sprint race.

2. Harry’s Holiday 50-1 (Ky.) (85) $186,882

Trainer: Mike Maker/Jockey: Corey Lanerie

The good news is he broke his maiden at Churchill; the bad news is he was 13th (next-to-last) in the Blue Grass, where the chart writer’s comment was, “Contended, dropped out.” Figures to be a pace setter that will go as fast he can for as long as he can.

3. Uncle Sigh: 30-1 (N.Y.) (96) $231,000

Trainer: Gary Contessa/Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

More likely to vie for last than first. His only career win was a maiden breaker at Aqueduct, and his most recent start yielded a fifth-place finish in the Wood Memorial.

Owned by Wounded Warrior Stables, portions of his purse earnings go to the Task Force Dagger Foundation for families of wounded soldiers, and to Retrieving Freedom, a non-profit corporation that trains dogs for placement with veterans.

4. Danza: 10-1 (Ky.) (102) $666,428

Trainer: Todd Pletcher/Jockey: Joe Bravo

Trainer Todd Pletcher keeps his horses on the move and Churchill Downs will be the fifth track he’s raced. Exercise rider Nick Bush said Danza’s taken to his new digs. “He likes the Churchill Downs track, it feels like I’m on air out there, it’s so smooth.”

Danza shocked the railbirds his last out with an easy win in the Arkansas Derby and paid $84.60 on top.

Beware: The saying goes, “If you miss the wedding, don’t go to the funeral.” Joe Bravo won’t be getting the rail-saving trip he pulled off in Arkansas, but the 102 Beyer speed figure merits respect.

5. California Chrome 5/2 (Cal.) (108) $1,384,850

Trainer: Art Sherman/Jockey: Victor Espinoza.

East Coast horseplayers who shun the West Coast brand would be wise to reconsider their bias with this the only million-dollar earner in the field. The 5/2 morning line favorite has won four straight races by a combined total of 24 lengths. He blew away a decent field and didn’t break a sweat in the Santa Anita Derby. “I seen Victor just sittin’ on him,” said affable 77-year-old trainer Art Sherman. “Seein’ him draw away by eight or nine, it’s kinda spooky,”

Beware: Decidedly was the last California-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby in 1962. Not known for his clean breaks, he’ll need a clean getaway in this crowded field.

6. Samraat 15-1 (N.Y.) (98) $773,200

Trainer: Richard Violette/Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trained by Lowell native and UMass-Lowell grad Richard Violette, Samraat had won five straight races including two stakes races until being overtaken by Wicked Strong in the Wood Memorial. “Most tough racing experiences make the better ones better,” said Violette.

Samraat is an ancient Indian name for “Little Emperor.” Owner Leonard Riggio is chairman of the board of Barnes & Noble. The colt’s biggest triumph was the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, and the only Gotham winner to advance and win at Kentucky was a pretty decent horse named Secretariat.

7. We Miss Artie 50-1 (Ont.) (89) $609,000

Trainer: Todd Pletcher/Jockey: Javier Castellano

Won the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park by a nose in what was the third-slowest winning time ever. He prefers synthetic surface and his top Beyer was in a turf race. “Someone has to finish 20th,” said his owner. “If it’s him, it’s him.” Those words aren’t apt to inspire confidence among the betting crowd.

8. General A R od 15-1 (Ky.) (101) $282,200

Trainer: Mike Maker/Jockey: Joel Rosario

Raced a strong second on the Churchill surface as a juvenile and was third by less than two lengths in the Florida Derby. Bred to go long but if nine furlongs was a problem at Gulfstream then ten figures to be a bigger problem in Louisville. Joel Rosario won last year’s Kentuck Derby aboard Orb.

Not named after the baseball player Alex Rodriguez but after his former owner Armando Rodriguez.

9. Vinceremos 30-1 (Ky.) (90) $225,266

Trainer: Todd Pletcher/Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Purchased as a 2-year-old by WinStar Farms for $340,000, he’s still running in the red and has digressed since winning the Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. He finish second to long shot Ring Weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby and last in the Blue Grass.

He’ll be exiting the 10 post which since 1930 has accounted for more wins (nine) and in-the-money finishes (31 percent) than any other post position.

Named after a therapeutic horse riding course in Loxahatchee, Florida.

10. Wildcat Red 15-1 (Fla.) (101) $690,850

Trainer: Jose Garofallo/Jockey: Luis Saez

Statistically the horse is worth a wager, winning or placing in his seven career starts. Purchased for $30,000 at auction he’s returned tons on his investment. In a good post to be hustled out of the gate and into the lead, and a fast track increases his chances of staying there.

11. Hopportunity 6-1 (Ky.) (100) $610,720

(Scratched)

12. Dance With Fate 20-1 (Fla.) (97) $680,050

Trainer: Peter Eurton/Jockey: Corey Nakatani

(Refer to Keeping Score column, Page B1)

13. Chitu 20-1 (Ky.) (102) $501,800

Trainer: Bob Baffert/Jockey: Martin Garcia

An easy 2-1/4 length winner in the Sunland Derby at Sunland (Calif.) Park as the 2-to-1 favorite. Bob Baffert has stuck with jockey Martin Garcia as his go-to guy in the big races since he rode Lookin’ at Lucky to the win in the 2010 Preakness.

Beware: Another that’s never raced outside California lacks experience with just four career starts.

14. Medal Count 20-1 (Ky.) (94) $261,600

Trainer: Dale Romans/Jockey: Robby Albarado

Closed from eighth at the three-quarter pole and finished second in the Blue Grass by less than two lengths. His sire Dynaformer has had four Derby starters including the winner Barbaro. He has a good closing style but will need to find an open lane down the stretch.

Beware: No rest for this horse after winning the Transylvania Stakes on April 4 and runner-up in the Blue Grass eight days later making this his third race in 29 days. “He’s kind of a throwback horse,” reasoned Romans. “The more we ask, the more he’ll do.”

15. Tapiture 15-1 (Ky.) (99) $490,383

Trainer: Steve Asmussen/Jockey: Ricardo Santana

Made his maiden debut in August at Saratoga and followed up a second place finish with three strong efforts at Churchill Downs where he broke his maiden in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes on Nov. 30.

Beware: Followed up a game second in the Rebel Stakes with a fourth place finish as the 2-to-1 favorite in the Arkansas Derby. The chart writer indicated there was no excuse: “...broke with the field, moved out, raced four wide most of the way, came five into the lane, had little for the drive.”

16. Intense Holiday 15-1 (La.) (97) $551,900

Trainer: Todd Pletcher/Jockey: John Velazquez

After breaking his maiden on Aug. 31 he failed to hit the board in his next five starts. Improvement began with a third-place showing in the Holy Bull, followed by winning the Risen Star and being runner-up in the Louisiana Derby. The horse is a worker, and Johnny V. will keep him in a good stalking position.

“The way he trains, he acts like he has the potential to win a big one if he keeps going,” said Pletcher. Reports are he likes the track and the cold weather, and was clocked with the seventh best time of 59 horses who worked four furlongs on Sunday.

Beware: Needs to improve on the Beyer, but overall has the look of a solid contender. As great as the trainer/jockey tandem are at Saratoga and Gulfstream, they’ve yet to team up for a Kentucky Derby win.

17. Commanding Curve 50-1 (Ky.) (89) $142,434

Trainer: Dallas Stewart/Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan

Trainer Dallas Stewart brought in a similar long shot last year (Golden Soul) and it finished second. This colt has three starts over the tricky Churchill surface, including his maiden-breaker on Nov. 30.

Beware: The maiden win is his only career score. Figures to be among the longest shots on the board with only modest results in his only two starts this year, third in the Louisiana Derby and sixth in the Risen Star. The 17 is the only post position without a win in the Kentucky Derby.

18. Candy Boy 20-1 (Ky.) (96) $425,600

Trainer: John Sadler/Jockey: Gary Stevens

Finished a dull third in the Santa Anita Derby, but jockey Gary Stevens attributed it to a two-month layoff. “He may have been a little short that race but we’re looking forward to running him that mile-and-a-quarter,” said the three-time Derby winner. “This time we’re going to be a little further back in the early part.”

It’s interesting to note that Danza was third in its first start off a layoff before winning the Arkansas Derby at 42-to-1, inferring bombshell potential with this colt.

“I know he wants to run a mile-and-a-quarter, no problem,” said Sadler.

Beware: Pedigree contradicts Sadler’s claim he’ll like the distance; bred to race shorter.

19. Ride On Curlin 15-1 (Ky.) (98) $414,687

Trainer: William Gowan/Jockey: Calvin Borel

For a horse that’s short on wins (two in nine starts) he’s put in good efforts with a second in the Arkansas Derby and third place finishes in the Rebel Stakes and Southwest Stakes. Had a third- and fourth-place finish in two Churchill stakes races as a juvenile. More than a few think he’s capable of hitting the board today. Trainer William Gowan has a stable of only three horses.

Beware: Jockey Calvin Borel won three Kentucky Derbies in four years and will likely get the horse bet down to under value.

20. Wicked Strong 8-1 (Ky.) (104) $704,610

Trainer: Jimmy Jerkins/Jockey: Rajiv Maragh

A strong closer armed with the second-best Beyer figure, he was the hot horse until, Wednesday when he got a wicked bad post position. “Big Brown won from here in 2008, but he had more tactical speed,” said NBCSN commentator Jerry Bailey, the retired Hall of Fame jockey.

A 9-to-1 upset winner of the Wood Memorial, Wicked Strong is stabled at Centennial Farms in Ipswich. As the name indicates, owner Donald Little Jr. is well aware of the Patriots’ Day bombings and is giving 5 percent of his Triple Crown earnings to the One Fund.

Beware: Insiders fear he might bounce from that strong showing in the Wood, and no Wood Memorial winner has finished in the Derby’s top three for 10 years. “It looks good on paper for us,” said Jerkins, “but so many things have to go right regardless, we have to be in a good spot where he’s comfortable and saving a little ground. Then he has to make a little move and not get stopped ...”

BN—Betting number. Br—State where bred. BB—Best Beyer speed figure.

Danza and Chrome gave splendid performance this year especially California Chrome .Watching Kentucky Derby on race track was one of my memorable day . I had a bet on California Chrome by using horse race handicapping tips from turfrace.net

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