Tiz the Law remains the heavy favorite and one of only three horses Garrity thinks has a chance to win the roses.
Before we get to the final installment of our Handicapping the 2020 Kentucky Derby series, we have some news: Finnick the Fierce, who we identified as a non-contender, was declared out of the race Friday morning. After the scratch, sixteen are scheduled to start tomorrow.
In the last segment, we threw out the horses who are too slow to win. That left us with ten who meet our minimum speed-figure threshold, but we need to winnow the field further, and we will do so by looking deeper than just the figs. Here is how the the preliminary contenders stack up:
2-Max Player (30-1): He ran a career-best race, and earned a marginally competitive speed figure, finishing a distant third to Tiz the Law in the Travers. He will thrive at the ten furlong distance, but is a plodder with little early speed, and will need the early pace to collapse to have a chance to win. We don’t see that happening, so we are throwing him out. Non-contender.
7-Money Moves (30-1): He’s a lightly raced son of Candy Ride who has never run a bad race. His race pattern shows two very positive signs: He’s improved in every one of his three starts, and he’s run faster as the distances have grown longer. He’s 30-1 because he lacks experience: He’s never run in a stakes race before, and has never run against horses of this caliber before. We mark him as a marginal contender at a big price.
8-South Bend (50-1): This colt has run twelve times, and only one of them was even remotely fast enough to be considered a marginal contender. That one figure is all this colt has going for him: The rest of his race records practically screams that he has no chance. He has no early speed, will be too far back early, and seems a cinch to finish 10th or worse. He’s a throw-out.
10-Thousand Words (15-1): This is Bob Baffert’s other entrant in the race, and we dislike him almost as much as we dislike his stablemate, Authentic. He may be involved early, but he will be far back late. He’s another non-contender, and another throw-out.
12-Sole Volante (30-1): This colt has interesting form. He’s a stretch-runner, and when the shape of the race sets up his late run, which is what happened in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, he can run very big. The problem is that he’s at the mercy of what happens in front of him, and we expect the 2020 Kentucky Derby to be run similarly, in terms of pace, to the way the Travers Stakes was run. That is trouble for Sole Volante: he finished a well-beaten 6th in the Travers, and we see a similar result here. He’s a non-contender.
13-Attachment Rate (50-1): This son of Hard Spun has improved dramatically this year, but he has not improved enough. He could hit the board at a big price, but a minor award is his ceiling. As far as winning the race, he’s a non-contender, and we are tossing him.
15-NY Traffic (20-1): One of two New York-breds in the field -- the other is Tiz the Law --, NY Traffic has very solid speed figures, and a solid pattern of improvement in his races, including his last, when he lost the Haskell by a nose to Authentic, earning a very good 101 Beyer Speed Figure in the process. But we’re against him: Authentic was staggering at the end of the Haskell, and NY Traffic still couldn’t reel him in, and this field is orders of magnitude tougher than he’s ever faced. We think he finishes off the board, and are tossing him.
16-Honor A.P. (5-1): If one were to draw up a five-race plan to get a horse ready for the Kentucky Derby, it would probably look a lot like what John Shirreffs has done with Honor A.P. He ran in two maiden races as a juvenile, finishing second the first time, and winning the second. He’s run three times as a 3-year-old, with a win and two seconds, and his speed figures have slowly and steadily improved. Though he’s never run a mile and a quarter before, his pedigree and his gait -- he’s a long-striding colt who seems to cover ground effortlessly -- suggest that he will thrive at the distance. We’ve heard some chatter this week that the wise guys don’t like this horse, but we don’t know why: We think he’s a major contender.
17-Tiz the Law (3/5): He’s odds-on for a reason: He’s been the best horse since last year, and his best effort wins this race. Period.
18-Authentic (8-1): Based on his race record and his connections -- he’s trained by fourt-time Derby winner, and two-time Triple Crown winner, Bob Baffert -- Authentic would seem to be a contender. But we are tossing him: He won the Haskell last out, but in it, he had the easiest trip we’ve seen in a Grade 1 in some time: He got a very easy lead, and still ran out of gas late, and almost got caught. That was at a mile and an eighth, and at a mile and a quarter, we think he has no shot. Non-contender.
We’ve identified the three horses we think could win, and have separated them from the non-contenders, but the final piece of analysis is to break down how we expect the race to be run, and who will end up in the winner’s circle. Look for that on Bettors Insider on Saturday morning.