Distance: 10 furlongs
Age: 3 year olds
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There isn't much early speed in this year's Derby field, and those horses that do have early zip are all drawn in the top half. It's hard to predict how this will affect the outcome of the Derby, but it is bound to be an important factor.
My working hypothesis is that speedy types like Outwork and Danzing Candy have to make it across from a very wide stall, which could result in the highly drawn stalkers/late runners being relegated to the very back of the field.
The horses that are most likely to benefit from such a scenario are Destin and Gun Runner. They have a low draw and, crucially, enough speed to secure a good running position. I especially like Destin under this scenario, since it would give him first run over horses like Creator, Exaggerator and Brody's Cause.
Mor Spirit is drawn high and a stalking type, but is certainly not slow out of the gate. If Gary Stevens makes good use of his tactical speed, he might be able to work out a good trip for the horse.
The morning-line favorite looks very beatable, despite his unbeaten status. I am going to stick my neck out and predict that he doesn't see out the Derby trip.
1. Destin 15/1
2. Mor Spirit 12/1
3. My Man Sam 20/1
4. Danzing Candy 15/1
MY MAN SAM
1. TROJAN NATION 50/1
Second in the Wood, but still a maiden. Doesn't seem fast enough.
2. SUDDENBREAKINGNEWS 20/1
Late runner who benefited from a pace collapse in the Arkansas Derby to finish second.
3. CREATOR 10/1
Won the Arkansas Derby with a late run after the leaders went much too quick. Has improved as a 3yo, though.
4. MO TOM 20/1
Had two very bad trips recently, but his earlier speed figures suggest he can run a decent race.
5. GUN RUNNER 10/1
Has dominated affairs at the Fair Grounds, but has not really run that fast. Needs to improve.
6. MY MAN SAM 20/1
Has shown spectacular improvement since making his debut in mid-December, and was a good second in the Blue Grass. Looks like an overlay.
7. OSCAR NOMINATED 50/1
Won the Spiral with something in hand, but doesn't look like a dirt horse.
8. LANI 30/1
Japanese winner of the UAE Derby, which was a slow race. Needs to do a lot better.
9. DESTIN 15/1
Game winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, who started to lengthen his stride in the last furlong. Very interesting, but lay-off to overcome.
10. WHITMORE 20/1
Third in the Arkansas Derby, also coming off the pace. Not a bad horse, but this is too much of an ask.
11. EXAGGERATOR 8/1
Has excelled in muddy conditions, which he's not going to get this time. Should not be too far away, regardless.
12. TOM'S READY 30/1
Doesn't look up to winning this. Can still run decently.
13. NYQUIST 3/1
Obvious negative is that he is by Uncle Mo, who didn't stay this distance. I also didn't like how he finished in the Floriday Derby, that was not the look of a horse who wanted to run further. On the other hand, he is unbeaten and has run the fastest number.
14. MOHAYMEN 10/1
I didn't think much of his Fountain Of Youth win, and was subsequently put in his place by Nyquist in his next race. Needs to bounce back and then some.
15. OUTWORK 15/1
Staggered home in the Wood, and already looked stretched in the Tampa Bay Derby as well. Pass.
16. SHAGAF 20/1
Doesn't seem to be on an upward curve. Not heard a convincing case for him yet.
17. MOR SPIRIT 12/1
Fell victim to sizzling fractions in the Santa Anita Derby, but we saw him to better effect in the San Felipe. I think this one is sitting on a big effort.
18. MAJESTO 30/1
Second in the Florida Derby, but there wasn't much to beat when Mohaymen didn't run his race.
19. BRODY'S CAUSE 12/1
Good closing effort in the Blue Grass, but that was another prep where the early pace collapsed.
20. DANZING CANDY 15/1
Is unfortunate to be drawn so wide, because the relative lack of pace in this race plays to his advantage. Went much too quick in the Santa Anita Derby, but was not for catching when he took it a bit easier early in the San Felipe.