COMMENTARY | If you're looking for value in your Kentucky Derby investment, you'll have to look past both Orb and Verrazano, who will likely be the shortest prices on the tote board when the horses go to post.
Avoiding the favorite often pays off (literally) when wagering on the Kentucky Derby, however, so here are five underdog horses to consider:
Trainer: Doug O'Neil
Jockey: Kevin Krigger
Krigger is attempting be become the first African-American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since Jimmy Winkfield on Alan-A-Dale in 1902, and he may have the horse to do it. Goldencents showed the ability to rate while winning the Santa Anita Derby. The question is this: Was that his best effort, or did he leave room for improvement?
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Normandy Invasion earned his way to the Kentucky Derby field with a fast-finishing second to Verrazano in the Wood Memorial after a puzzling performance in the Risen Star (fifth). His latest work at Churchill Downs -- 59 seconds for five furlongs -- was encouraging for those who believe this colt is improving. Detractors will point out that he's won once in five starts.
Trainer: Eddie Plesa Jr.
Jockey: Elvis Trujillo
Itsmyluckyday took a two-month break before the Florida Derby, where he finished second to Orb. He certainly seems capable of improving off that effort. He has tactical speed, but there are those who believe he's not ready to win at 10 furlongs.
Trainer: Ken McPeek
Jockey: Julian Leparoux
Came from last to win the Blue Grass Stakes, but that style is less than ideal in a 20-horse field. Probably can't afford another lazy start, and it should be noted that the Blue Grass victory came on the Polytrack at Keenland. Nevertheless, seems to be rounding into form heading into the May 4 race.
Trainer: Rudy Rodriguez
Jockey: Garrett Gomez
Vyjak has won four of five career starts. He ran third in the Wood Memorial, but he may have had an excuse since he was treated for a lung infection after the race. Of greater concern may be his trainer's less-than-spotless reputation. Rodriguez has had three horses test positive for excessive levels of Banamine -- an anti-inflamatory drug -- in the last year.
Best Bet: Normandy Invasion to win.
Roger Brown is a staff writer for the New Hampshire Union Leader.
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