Synthetic to Dirt in Kentucky Derby Betting

Kentucky Derby betting in recent years has had to factor in horses going from synthetic tracks to dirt tracks.

This year that factor will have to be taken into consideration again in Kentucky Derby odds as horses like Sidney’s Candy race on dirt for the first time.

Kentucky Derby betting will list Sidney’s Candy as one of the contenders on May 1st.  The horse will be traveling from Southern California where he has raced on synthetic surfaces to the track at Churchill Downs on the dirt.  Horses have had some success this year going from synthetic to dirt.  Zardana upset Rachel Alexandra in the New Orleans Ladies at Fair Grounds. Freedom Star won at Oaklawn Park.  Derby horses like Conveyance have already made the switch from synthetic to dirt and won.  Lookin and Lucky and American Lion have also pulled off the switch and won.

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said that horses making the switch can show more speed. "They get to show their speed," Baffert said. "They get to show their stuff. Look at American Lion. He was gone. On the synthetic, the jockeys grab their horses. It's basically turf racing. Good horses can't separate themselves on synthetic surfaces. Horses with speed are far more effective on dirt. You can't show that kind of speed on synthetic."

Another factor is that California has some excellent horse racing. "There's no new blood in California, so you're facing the same competition, and those horses tend to look the same, but they stand out when we go back East," American Lion trainer Eoin Harty said. "We used to see that in the early days of synthetics in California, when Hollywood first put in a synthetic surface, and Santa Anita was still dirt. If you trained at Santa Anita and shipped over to race at Hollywood Park, you would come up short."

Some horses in Kentucky Derby betting will be going from the synthetic to the dirt including top contenders Sidney's Candy and Lookin At Lucky. Sidney's Candy will be making his first start on dirt. "I don't like to talk about the upside, but I do think he'll really like dirt," trainer John Sadler said.  Sidney’s Candy will likely be the third choice in Kentucky Derby odds behind Eskendereya and Lookin at Lucky. Eskendererya could go off as the 2-1 favorite in the Kentucky Derby.