2014 Kentucky Derby Picks

Updated: April 25, 2014

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By Jeffrey Brandes (Big Game Picks)

The Derby is SATURDAY! What I’m going to do in the article is analyze each contender and give you a rating as to where I think he’ll finish in the Derby. One of the nice props that I wager on is betting one horse against another. With this bet you just have to beat 1 horse and not 19. I will give you most of the horses as anything can happen between now and post time to force a horse to scratch. In addition, I will give you my suggested wagering strategies and the strategies that I will be using myself.

The draw is complete and we are now just waiting for the race.   Let's see how it changes my outlook on the race if at all.



1 Vicar's in Trouble (M. Maker/R. Napravnik) 30-1
2 Harry's Holiday (M. Maker/C. Lanerie) 50-1
3 Uncle Sigh (G. Contessa/I. Ortiz Jr.) 30-1
4 Danza (T. Pletcher/J. Bravo) 10-1
5 California Chrome (A. Sherman/V. Espinoza) 5-2
6 Samraat (R. Violette Jr./J. Ortiz) 15-1
7 We Miss Artie (T. Pletcher/J. Castellano) 50-1
8 General a Rod (M. Maker/J. Rosario) 15-1
9 Vinceremos (T. Pletcher/J. Rocco Jr.) 30-1
10 Wildcat Red (J. Garrofalo/L. Saez) 15-1
11 Hoppertunity (B. Baffert/M. Smith) 6-1
12 Dance With Fate (P. Eurton/C. Nakatani) 20-1
13 Chitu (B. Baffert/M. Garcia) 20-1
14 Medal Count (D. Romans/R. Albarado) 20-1
15 Tapiture (S. Asmussen/R. Santana) 15-1
16 Intense Holiday (T. Pletcher/J. Velazquez) 12-1
17 Commanding Curve (D. Stewart/S. Bridgmohan) 50-1
18 Candy Boy (J. Sadler/G. Stevens) 20-1
19 Ride on Curlin (W. Gowan/C. Borel) 15-1
20 Wicked Strong (J. Jerkens/R. Maragh) 8-1
21 Pablo Del Monte (W. Ward) 50-1


CALIFORNIA CHROME (290) drew post position number #5.  Jockey Victor Espinosa has won the Derby before  aboard WAR EMBLEM from post #5 and CALIFORNIA CHROME just won the Santa Anita Derby from post #5.  He's  winner in his last 4 starts, he won the Grade II San Felipe two back and the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in his last. Using my own proprietary rating system, he gets a 290, the highest in the race. As a 3 year old, he is undefeated. I feel very good about his chances in this race.  VERY GOOD!

CHITU (288)  drew post 13.  Let's forget about the morning line.  In my world it means very little.  It's how I view a horses chances that matters to me.  We need to take a long hard look at CHITU.   Lifetime he has won 3 of 4 starts with a second. In his last race  he won the Sunland Derby. He’s been working very well at Churchill Downs for trainer Bob Baffert. He’s by champion sprinter HENNY HUGHES which might suggest the mile and a quarter distance is out of his domain, but he is out of an A.P. Indy mare. It is not necessary for him to have the lead  he can boss these from post 13.  He'll be very tough, VERY TOUGH!

GENERAL A ROD (287)  just changed ownership.  He figures very strong in this renewal of the Derby having drawn post position #8. Lifetime he’s 5-2-2-1. Last out he finished a close third in the Florida Derby. In that 1 1/8 mile race he was forced to race 3 wide and weakened.   Being out of a DYNAFORMER mare he certainly has the breeding to be in the thick of things today.  You'll get a great price on him today but I don't see anyone closer than a short cab ride to CALIFORNIA CHROME at the finish.

WILDCAT RED (286) drew a good post post as well breaking from the #10 hole.  He finished second as the favorite in the Florida Derby.  Lifetime he has never finished worse than second with a 7-4-3-0 lifetime record. Two back he won the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park defeating GENERAL A ROD.   He likes it up front as quite a few do in this race but he has proven he is gutsy and will be trying the whole race.

CANDY BOY (280)  drew the #18 and that probably will compromise any chance he thought about winning this race.  He will be making his third start as a three year old in the Derby. Last out he finished third in the Santa Anita Derby to CALIFORNIA CHROME.  Two races back he handed CHITU his only defeat. He can run from off the pace and if it gets suicidal up front early in the race, things could set up right him. Gary Stevens will be aboard and he is no stranger to the big race.

DANZA (279) drew post position #4.   He shocked the world last out taking the Arkansas Derby at 41-1. Lifetime he now has 2 wins and two thirds in four starts. Jersey Joe Bravo will get the return call for Todd Pletcher. He crushed the highly touted RIDE ON CURLIN in that race and figures to be a stretch threat today.

INTENSE HOLIDAY (279) is another Pletcher charge and he rates out the same as DANZA. For this race he drew post #16  He’s been running at the Fair Grounds. Two back he was the winner of the Grade II Risen Star. Last out he finished second as the 19-10 favorite in the Louisiana Derby. He’s another closer and will be good value if you like him.

SAMRAAT (278) will be breaking just outside of CALIFORNIA CHROME from the #6 post.  He was my choice in the Wood Memorial but he finished second to WICKED STRONG in that race for his only ever lifetime defeat. The New York bred has proven he is gutsy and has a ton of class. He likes to be near the front but doesn’t necessarily have to have the lead to run his race. Don’t be surprised if he runs a big one today but I think he'll forced to use his speed early and just won't have anything left in the tank when they turn for home.

VICAR'S IN TROUBLE (277) drew the rail and that will be tough if not impossible to overcome.  He's just not good enough to beat this field even under ideal conditions. He was a wire to wire winner of the Louisiana Derby in his last and is 5-3-0-2 lifetime. His best races have him on the lead from the start and I doubt that scenerio is possible today.  Jockey Rosie Napravnik will hard pressed to keep this one from finishing last.

HOPPERTUNITY (277) drew post #11.  No horse has won the Derby in the in last century and this one as an unraced 2 year old yet the morning line has him listed at 6-1 and the second choice.  This is why I don't take the morning line too seriously.  There is a lot of buzz about this horse but to me he does not look like any world beater. He finished second to CALIFORNIA CHROME in the Santa Anita Derby last out. He defeated RIDE ON CURLIN two back but he lost to VICAR’S IN TROUBLE three back. He’s a Baffert hopeful with Mike Smith aboard and my feeling is that he’ll be over bet....WAY OVER BET!


These are my top ten rated horses for this year’s KENTUCKY DERBY. Now, how are we going to bet this race. Naturally, it all depends on your bankroll. So let’s break it down by type of bet,

Straight - $20 Win $40 Place on CALIFORNIA CHROME




$60 total outlay



Trifectas - 5 horse box: CALIFORNIA CHROME, CHITU,GENERAL A ROD, WILDCAT RED, CANDY BOY(A $1 five horse box trifecta cost $60 - A six horse box using DANZA as well cost $120 - This is probably the bet I will make on this race.)


Superfectas - $1.00 Superfecta 5,8,10,13/5,8,10,13/4,5,8,10,13,18/4,5,8,10,13,18 = $144.00


13 = CHITU






Let me tell you about Jeffrey Brandes at http://www.trendbetting.com.  He is their only horse racing analyst and also handicaps basketball and football.  His record speaks for itself as he is a documented 66.7% at sports-bettors.com , 8-4 in the last 30 days with his NBA selections.  When it comes to handicapping the horses, he is second to none.  The industry standard uses a flat bet ROI as a measure of how good one is as a handicapper.  This is all well and good for some, but Jeffrey is a proponent of a $20 win and $40 place bet.  He also encourages using his top selection in $10 exactas top and bottom with his second, third, and fourth selections.  (So $120 is one unit).

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