Kentucky Derby Long Shots
Which Longshots Have The Best Chance
By Brent Sedo
While the past few years have seen several of the top favorites in the odds win the Kentucky Derby, this hasn’t always been the case. In the 20 years spanning 1992 to 2012, eleven Kentucky Derby winners were in double-digit odds – led by a pair of 50-1 long shots in Giacomo (2005) and Mine That Bird (2009) – and only five favorites took the win in that span.
This year promises to be one of the most wide-open Derbies in years, and sets up for a possible winner to emerge from the pack at big odds. Here’s a look at a few dark-horses that could spring a surprise, with current odds.
2017 Kentucky Derby Long Shots
Girvin (18-1): Given the fact Girvin finished first in the points standings list for a spot in the Derby gate, it may seem unusual that he’s considered such an outsider. On paper his record of three wins and one second in four starts looks impressive.
The knock against him is that he racked up all those wins and Derby points racing at his home track of Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where he faced only two other Derby horses in Untrapped and Patch, both double-digit long shots themselves. There’s also the matter that his regular jockey, Brian Hernandez Jr., has chosen to ride McCraken in the Derby, which doesn’t inspire confidence. Recent foot issues have also set back his training.
But his winning time in the 1 1/8 mile Louisiana Derby of 1:49.77 is actually faster than top contender Irish War Cry won the Wood Memorial at the same distance. It’s also worth considering that horses coming out of the Louisiana preps have been competitive in recent years, with International Star a 2015 Derby favorite until he was injured and scratched the day before the race, and Gun Runner last year finishing third.
Hence (20-1): He took four starts to get his first career win, and he finished seventh in his first graded-stakes start, so not exactly a force to be reckoned with. In his second career graded-stakes start he won the (G3) Sunland Derby in New Mexico, not typically considered a major stepping stone to Derby success.
But the thing is, the horse that ran second, Conquest Mo Money, ran very well in his next start to finish second in the (G1) Arkansas Derby, beaten only a half-length by Kentucky Derby favorite Classic Empire.
Add to that the fact the fourth-place Sunland finisher, Irap, beat a handful of Derby contenders in his next start, the (G1) Blue Grass Stakes, and that Sunland victory looks more significant.
Thunder Snow (20-1): Since the decision 12 years ago to grant the winner of the UAE Derby in Dubai a spot in the Kentucky Derby gate, no horse shipping over for the race has threatened to win. Of the last three, Lani (2016) ran ninth, Mubtaahji (2015) ran eighth, and Daddy Long Legs (2014) was pulled up by the rider and didn’t finish the race.
None of those, however, come to the Derby with the track record of Thunder Snow. An Irish-bred from the powerful Gondolphin stable, he has a Group 1 win in France to his credit, and now two major victories in Dubai.
It’s unclear if he’ll actually come to the Derby, however, as he also has the option of running in the Group 1 2000 Guineas in Newmarket the same day.
State of Honor (30-1): While perhaps not a strong win candidate for the Derby – he only has a single win to his name in 10 career starts – State Of Honor does have a couple things going for him that could put him in the top three.
For one, he’s a front-running colt, and in the Derby, it’s always better to be at the front of the pack through the race than to be trying to get through traffic from the back. For another, he’s been taking on the top competition on the Derby trail, such as Always Dreaming, Gunnevera and McCraken, and hasn’t been embarrased, finishing second, second and third in his last three.
Whether he can last for the full 1 1/4 miles is an open question, but if he can, he should have something to say about the final outcome.
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