By Sean Morris

Tiz the Law unsurprisingly is our Pick for Derby glory

By Sean Morris
No surprise but we are backing Tiz the Law for Kentucky Derby glory
No surprise but we are backing Tiz the Law for Kentucky Derby glory

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The Grade I Kentucky Derby concludes our coverage of Kentucky Derby Day Stakes races at Churchill Downs. Our racecard is below with our analysis and selections further down the page...

Kentucky Derby Racecard

1
PP 1

Finnick the Fierce

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: M. Garcia /
  • Trainer: R. Hernandez /
Morning Line Odds

Gathered points throughout the prep season despite never winning. Not a contender.

10
PP 10

Thousand Words

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: F. Geroux /
  • Trainer: B. Baffert /
Morning Line Odds

Came good with a shock win at the Shared Belief Stakes. Outside shot to be at the pointy end of the race.

11
PP 11

Necker Island

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: M. Mena /
  • Trainer: S. Hough /
Morning Line Odds

His record suggests that he's not fast enough to win or even compete in this race.

12
PP 12

Sole Volante

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: L. Panici /
  • Trainer: R. Biancone /
Morning Line Odds

An intriguing exotics player in this race. Ignore his Belmont run as it came on only ten days rest.

13
PP 13

Attachment Rate

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: J. Talamo /
  • Trainer: D. Romans /
Morning Line Odds

Fringe contender. Run a decent runner-up to Art Collector at the Ellis Park Derby. Seems to be getting better with every ride.

14
PP 14

Winning Impression

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: J. Rocco Jr. /
  • Trainer: D. Stewart /
Morning Line Odds

A top Beyer number of 82 says all you need to know...

15
PP 15

Ny Traffic

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: P. Lopez /
  • Trainer: S. Joseph Jr. /
Morning Line Odds

Best performance was a runner-up spot at the Haskell. Has great stamina but I'd question his speed. Potential contender however.

16
PP 16

Honor A.P.

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: M. Smith /
  • Trainer: J. Shirreffs /
Morning Line Odds

Second favorite following Art Collector's withdrawal. Staff at HorseRacing.net are split on him. Must be considered a contender.

17
PP 17

Tiz the Law

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: M. Franco /
  • Trainer: B. Tagg /
Morning Line Odds

Red-hot favorite. 3/5 might bizarrely still be value. Won the Belmont with ease.

18
PP 18

Authentic

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: J. Velazquez /
  • Trainer: B. Baffert /
Morning Line Odds

Been raked over the coals for a poor win at the Haskell but he still won. If Tiz the Law doesn't win, Authentic is best-placed to swoop in.

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This race preview was originally published in my Churchill Downs Picks column for all of the Graded Stakes races at the Twin Spires this Saturday...

It’s been a war of attrition in the lead up to the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby, and we’re left with a field of just 16 after a rash of defections has made this an extremely top-heavy field. As much as I’d like to be against Tiz the Law (#17) on the basis of value - he’s going to be the overwhelming favorite - I just can’t do it.

He’s been terrific this year and has even exceeded expectations after showing tremendous ability as a 2-year-old. There were some concerns that he was beating up on softer competition earlier in the year and may not like a mile and a quarter, but he addressed those question marks emphatically with his win in the G1 Travers last out, for which he earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 109, easily the best in this field. My only quibble with him is that the lone blemish on his otherwise sterling resume occurred over this very track last year in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club. It may have been that he didn’t care for the wet track, but it also could be that he’s not as effective when he has to ship. Based on his dominant Travers victory, however, it’s going to take a lot of regression for him to get beat.

While we aren’t getting the Tiz the Law/Art Collector showdown the racing world was eager to see, I do think Honor A. P. (#16) is a worthy challenger to the favorite. He left a bitter taste in the minds of bettors after he came up short in the ungraded Shared Belief as the 1-5 favorite, but bear in mind that these connections, namely his trainer John Shirreffs, are old school: the Derby has always been the goal for Honor A. P., and I doubt we were seeing his ‘A’ game in that race. One start prior he easily handled Authentic (#18) in the G1 Santa Anita Derby, and I’d expect that version of Honor A. P. to show up on Saturday, if not an even better one. I still don’t think that vaults him past Tiz the Law, but it’s well within the range of possible outcomes.

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Kentucky Derby Odds

The biggest surprise to me after handicapping this race is that I came away liking Attachment Rate (#15) a lot more than I thought I would. It seemed to me earlier in the year that he was a middling Derby prospect at best, but I believe he’s taken a noticeable step forward in recent starts, particularly last out in the Ellis Park Derby when he finished second behind Art Collector. He pressed a fast pace in the Ellis Park Derby, went wide around both turns, and still stayed on well in the stretch, though he was no match for the winner. Without Art Collector in this race, I think Attachment Rate is the next best thing as he didn’t run much worse than him last time, and I expect him to perform even better at his home base of Churchill Downs. I don’t think he’s a viable win candidate, however he’s absolutely capable of hitting the board at a big price.

Beyond these three there’s really no one I’m itching to bet. The well-traveled Ny Traffic (#15) is my pick for fourth. Although he finished behind Authentic last out in the G1 Haskell I thought he may have run the better race, and he continues to progress as this year rolls along for the up-and-coming Saffie Joseph, Jr.

Speaking of Authentic, I don’t want any part of him or his stablemate, Thousand Words (#10). They’re guaranteed to take significant money because they’re trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, however I think they’re both coming in off rather phony wins and will be hard-pressed to duplicate those results. I’d even prefer a horse like Max Player (#2) to them, who maybe isn’t quite as fast but has demonstrated an aptitude for this distance. As always, this should be a fun race.

Main:  17     Backup (priority):  16

Order of preference:  17-16-13-15

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