Favorites Don’t Always Win in Kentucky Wagering

Kentucky wagering favorites sure look good on paper but they don’t always win.

In 2010 Kentucky odds the favorite is going to be Eskenderya and he looks very good. The question is whether or not he will win.

Kentucky wagering on favorites traditionally has not gone very well but at least in recent years there are some exceptions.  Big Brown won in 2008 and Eskendereya compares favorably to that horse.  It is possible that Eskenderya will go off as a bigger favorite than Big Brown did two years ago.  In fact, he could be the shortest priced favorite since Point Given was 9-to-5 in 2001.

The Derby will have a full field of 20 horses and anything can happen. That is one reason why favorites have struggled.  "In all Derbys, there's so many horses going everywhere, so you have to overcome that," said jockey John Velasquez, Eskendereya’s jockey. "In the Derby you have to get lucky. You have to get a trip that will be not in trouble. And hopefully, you have the horse respond to a little bit of trouble, which you always have."

Last year was another year where the favorite flopped. Mine That Bird came from nowhere and won at Kentucky odds of 50 to 1. That was the 11th time in the last 15 Kentucky Derby races that the favorite lost. The four big favorites since 1997 to win were Silver Charm in 1997, Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, Smarty Jones in 2004 and Big Brown in 2008.  Big longshots have won more than you might think as Giacamo won at 50-to-1, Mine That Bird at 50-1, Charismatic at 30-to-1 and Thunder Gulch at 25-to-1. "I think if you looked at Mind That Bird physically, I think 95 out of 100 horsemen would say that's not a mile and a quarter horse," said Noble’s Promise trainer Ken McPeek, "But last May he looked pretty good."

Eskendereya is the favorite this year in Kentucky wagering and not many other horses look like contenders.  Perhaps Lookin at Lucky and Sidney's Candy can give him a race. Ice Box is trained by Zick Zito so he has shot. If Jackson’s Bend makes the field he would be an interesting horse with Calvin Borel aboard.  But beating the favored Eskenderya is not going to be easy. "The things that's exciting about [Eskendereya] is the one thing we've been very confident all along is that he wants to run the distances of you know the classic races," trainer Todd Pletcher said. He just has tremendous natural stamina. He has all the right tools."