By Sean Morris

Our Verdict on the 18 Horses entered in the Kentucky Derby

By Sean Morris
Our verdict on the 18 Kentucky Derby Horses
Our verdict on the 18 Kentucky Derby Horses

Our racecard for the 2020 Kentucky Derby is below. You can bet with any of our partners, BetAmerica, TVG and TwinSpires by clicking on the odds of any of the horses you are looking to bet on. Our verdicts on all the horses are listed below:

Kentucky Derby Racecard

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.

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.

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.

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.

6
PP 6

King Guillermo

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: S. Camacho /
  • Trainer: J. Avila /
Morning Line Odds

Lightly raced since the shock win at the Tampa Bay Derby. Don't rule him out. 20/1 is a good price.

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.

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.

7
PP 7

Money Moves

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: J. Castellano /
  • Trainer: T. Pletcher /
Morning Line Odds

A promising horse with potential although the Derby seems a step too far...

2
PP 2

Max Player

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: R. Santana Jr. /
  • Trainer: S. Asmussen /
Morning Line Odds

I like this horse as an outside shot to hit the board. Always there or thereabouts.

3
PP 3

Enforceable

  • Age: 3 /
  • Jockey: A. Beschizza /
  • Trainer: M. Casse /
Morning Line Odds

A plodder who has taken advantage of some weak fields. Not considered a contender.

Show All Runners

Tiz the Law - It doesn’t take a paid analyst to tell you that this horse is a star. There may have been some doubts earlier in the year when he was beating up on softer competition, but he has passed every test with flying colors, and now we know unequivocally that 1 ¼ miles is well within his scope (in fact, it may even be his best distance).

Perhaps the only chink in his armor is that his only race at Churchill Downs was an underwhelming performance in last year’s G2 Kentucky Jockey Club - the lone blemish on an otherwise perfect resume. Although he does have some excuse for that effort, there’s a sliver of doubt in my mind that he may not be as effective when he has to ship for a race. It’s a minor quibble, however, and he’s still a very deserving Derby favorite, though I’m not sure I’ll be rushing to bet him at a very short price.

 

Honor A.P. - Don’t sleep on this guy. Many are ready to write him off after a runner-up finish in the ungraded Shared Belief in which he was an overwhelming favorite, but John Shirreffs is an old school horseman who was surely just using that race as a means to an end.

Even though his backers expected more, he did actually pair up his career-best Beyer of 102 in the Shared Belief, and I would anticipate him moving forward in the Derby, similar to what we saw in the first two starts of the year from him when he parlayed a second-place finish in the G2 San Felipe into a win in the G1 Santa Anita Derby. I’m not sure he has the raw ability of Tiz the Law and to a lesser extent Art Collector (who has subsequently been scratched), however he is plenty fast and gives the feel of a true stayer, which is a potent combination for the Derby. I believe he has a legitimate shot and may actually offer the most value in the race if the public is too off-put by his most recent outing.

 

Authentic - The final time and 100 Beyer Speed Figure for his Haskell victory ultimately look nice on paper, but it was not a pretty effort out of him, especially as it pertains to his Derby candidacy. Given the way the 1 ⅛-mile race unfolded — with Authentic able to gain an uncontested lead that he nearly coughed up in a desperate stretch-drive - it’s hard to imagine him thriving at a mile and a quarter.

The splits he set weren’t exactly slow, but he had everything his own way and had a chance to bury the field in the stretch; instead, he nearly gave the race away to Ny Traffic. At this point I think we can safely say that he is not Baffert’s heir apparent to Charlatan and Nadal, who at one time appeared destined for Derby favoritism, but I have to acknowledge he’s run consistently fast enough to put himself in the mix in the race. That said, it’s hard for me to envision incorporating him in any of my bets.

 

Thousand Words - I’m not going to get too carried away with his win in the Shared Belief even though he was able to vanquish Honor A. P. and earn a very competitive Beyer Speed Figure as it pertains to the Derby. I’ve never been a big fan of his and two back he was no match for his stablemate Uncle Chuck, who was a massive flop in the Travers.

Thousand Words’ career-best performance in the Shared Belief may have something to do with him making the lead for the first time in his life, which is a position he’s very unlikely to attain again in the Derby. At this point it’s hard to envision him factoring into any of my wagering.

 

Ny Traffic - I still don’t think of him as a top Derby contender, but he showed me the most in of anyone in the Haskell despite finishing second to Authentic. I didn’t love his chances heading into that race, but he stepped his game up in a big way and nearly overcame a difficult trip to win while showing tremendous tenacity in the stretch. He earned a 101 Beyer for the Haskell, which puts him among the best of his class.

While I don’t believe he’s a true mile-and-a-quarter horse, he has demonstrated a fondness for the Churchill main track, where he finished a close second in the G3 Matt Winn behind Maxfield. He’s not without a shot in the ‘Run for the Roses,’ but is probably more of a minor player and exotics threat than a serious contender.

 

King Guillermo - He may sit at sixth on the Derby points leaderboard, but he’s far lower down in the pecking order than that rank would indicate. I thought he rode a pretty strong speed bias to victory in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby, but he did come back and validate that effort with a second in the Arkansas Derby in his most recent start, which came more than three months ago (by the time the Derby rolls around the layoff will exceed four months).

It’d be difficult for any horse to win the Derby off such a substantial break, however given his low-profile connections, who have no track record in this race, I think it’s fair to be very skeptical of his chances. He’s certainly earned his spot in the starting gate and could surprise some people again, but he’s a difficult one to endorse from a wagering perspective.

 

Sole Volante - I’m willing to draw a line through Sole Volante’s non-effort in the Belmont, which makes him an intriguing exotics player in this race. As mentioned previously, he was running on a very short rest in the Belmont after being shipped across the country for the race, so I think it’s perfectly acceptable to excuse that race for a horse who had previously been ultra-consistent across multiple surfaces.

I don’t think he’s as fast as several others in the Derby field, but he has a late-running style that is well suited to the projected fast pace of the race and I could absolutely envision him charging home for a minor award.

 

Max Player - A popular wise-guy selection for the Travers, Max Player certainly seemed to relish the added ground of the 1 ¼-mile race, as his backers anticipated. Unfortunately for his supporters, that still left him well behind Tiz the Law and even two lengths behind runner-up Caracaro.

It was a fine performance, and if he were able to duplicate it in Kentucky he could get involved for a minor award, but at this point that seems to be his ceiling. His late-running style leaves him at the mercy of pace and in such a bulky field he might have difficulty navigating his way through traffic. He’s one that could factor into deeper intra-race exotics but it’s hard to envision him actually winning the race.

 

Enforceable - Enforceable is essentially a plodder who took advantage of some soft spots in Louisiana to begin his 3-year-old season. His development has kind of plateaued as of late, which is not good considering he’s still many lengths slower than the top horses in this division.

To have a chance at cracking the superfecta he needs chaos to unfold in front of him, but he’s hard to recommend even in the deepest of exotic wagers because the value of longshots tends to get depressed in the Derby.

 

Money Moves - Money Moves’ last race says he’s at least fast enough to contend for a minor award in this spot, but he’s woefully short on experience. His progression thus far has been impressive and he’s made a steady ascent speed figure-wise, however I don’t think this is the right race for him to take another step forward. He’s really being thrown to the wolves in the Derby, which I don’t think will end well given the extreme number of horses he’s going to have to deal with, but he’s one to pay attention to down the line and someday maybe he ends up being the best of this crop. It’s doubtful with Tiz the Law born in the same year, but he has that kind of potential.

 

Mr. Big News - The comment line from his run in the Blue Grass would have you believe he had significant trouble in the race; I didn’t really think that was the case. I like that he showed improved early speed even after stumbling at the start, but there was no point in the race I felt like he lost considerable ground and then had to re-rally. He just kind of ran evenly around the racetrack, which clearly is not going to cut it in the Derby. It’s likely he’s moved forward since his fortunate win in the Oaklawn Stakes earlier this year, but it’d take a herculean effort from him just to hit the board in this race.

 

Shirl's Speight - I don’t want to demean Shirl’s Speight, who really seems to have a bright future ahead of him, but this isn’t the race for him. Although he rose to the occasion in his second start when he was given a serious litmus test in the G3 Marine, this spot is just too ambitious. Furthermore, he’s yet to even run on dirt, and his pedigree suggests that it’s not going to be his preferred surface. If he gives a solid account of himself my admiration for him will certainly grow, but don’t expect him to be around at the finish; he’s just not that caliber of horse… yet.

 

Winning Impression - If you thought Shirl’s Speight didn’t belong in the Derby, you’re going to love Winning Impression. He doesn’t nearly have the career upside of Shirl’s Speight - in fact, his development has pretty much stagnated midway through his sophomore year - and he’s yet to register a Beyer above 82.

As previously mentioned, the only reason he ends up here is due to a fluky disqualification in the Arkansas Derby that elevated him to an unceremonious third, which may have been karmic after a rather questionable DQ one start prior at Oaklawn when he crossed the wire first in an optional claimer but was then placed fifth. The bottom line is that Winning Impression is the early front-runner to finish last in this year’s ‘Run for the Roses,’ barring some Rick’s Natural Star entering the race at the 11th hour.

 

Attachment Rate - Attachment Rate has made steady progress from the beginning of his 3-year-old season and has now positioned himself as a fringe contender in this race. He showed last time in the Ellis Park Derby that he’s not in the same league as the top horses in this race, like Art Collector, but that he is part of a second or third tier that isn’t entirely hopeless. Personally, I wouldn’t bet a nickel on Attachment Rate to win and there are others I prefer in the underneath slots in this race, but he absolutely could sneak into the trifecta or superfecta if things break his way and he takes another step forward.

 

Necker Island - Necker Island has been ultra-consistent throughout his career. He debuted with a Beyer of 71 last summer and has steadily improved since then, now topping out at 87, a number he’s earned in each of his past two starts. He’s never strayed from that range, however, which is decidedly not a good thing for this race when the top contenders all sit in the 100’s. To put it bluntly, he’s not fast enough to win this race or even hit the board. He’s a neat story and it’s fun to have a claimer be good enough to compete in this race, but he’s just gate fodder.

 

Major Fed - It’s nice to root for the little guy, but Major Fed is too little. He finds himself in this spot as a result of placing among some sub-par fields over the winter at Fair Grounds, and he again took advantage of a soft spot in his last start in the Indiana Derby. At this point he’s just too slow to recommend in any way, shape or form, and is merely filling out the field in this storied race.

 

Finnick the Fierce - Finnick the Fierce is simply too slow to make an impact on the Derby. It’s nice to see a horse from a smaller outfit make it to this level, and he has run well in a number of spots in which he seemed completely over-matched, but he would need to improve by many lengths just to dream of hitting the board. He’s a horse that would be better suited to the myriad lesser races for 3-year-olds across the country, not the nation’s premier event for sophomores. I can’t endorse him in any wagering slot.

 

South Bend - Getting added to the field at the 11th hour is rarely a good sign. When you get added to the field because of the weather forecast then you have to question the logic. South Bend was due to run on turf at Churchill Downs this weekend but due to the expected rain and sloppy conditions, his connections made the late-minute decision to enter the Derby instead. We like the horse as a potentially good one down the line but having bounced between dirt and turf over the past year, expecting anything other than a top-ten finish is overly-optimistic.

Kentucky Derby Odds

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