So far, there are 368 nominees for the 2016 Kentucky Derby, consisting of 335 colts or ridglings, 30 geldings, and 3 fillies. With the point system making it difficult for fillies to qualify, it is a wonder that any were nominated. Seventeen nominees were bred in countries besides the United States. More horses may be nominated as the late period lasts until March 21.
What is striking about the list is that it is dominated by two trainers and one owner. Bob Baffert is the trainer of record of 35 of the nominees and Todd Pletcher is the trainer of 28. Chad Brown is a distant third but still has an impressive eleven nominees. Thus Baffert and Pletcher together account for 17% of the nominees. Zayat Stable, owner of American Pharoah, has 15 nominees.
Currently, there are eight horses with odds of less than 20/1 in Las Vegas and Baffert and Brown each train one of them. Here’s the list of eight along with their odds and their trainer.
Mohayman 4/1 (Kiaran McLaughlin)
Mor Spirit 8/1 (Bob Baffert)
Nyquist 10/1 (Doug O’Neill)
Exaggerator 12/1 (Keith Desormeaux)
Smokey Image 12/1 (Carla Gaines)
Airoforce 14/1 (Mark Casse)
Shagaf 15/1 (Chad Brown)
Greenpaint Crusader 18/1 (Dominick Schettino)
Steve Haskin’s “Derby Dozen” in the Blood-Horse includes five of the eight but does not contain Smokey Image and Shagaf. The Haskin list has Greenpoint Crusader on top with Brody’s Cause (Dale Romans, trainer) picked for second.
It will be interesting to revisit this post on the night of Saturday, May 7, 2016 to see how things changed from the doldrums of winter. The winner of the Kentucky Derby may not be in the Las Vegas top eight or on the Haskins list. I’ll return to this subject a couple of times between now and Derby week.
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