With the Breeders’ Cup World Championships finished, the horse racing calendar flips back to day one to start its most anticipated season: Kentucky Derby season. The road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve will, as it always does, take plenty of unexpected twists and turns as contenders rise and fall with each passing prep race. Last week saw open-length wins by two colts who, despite showing inexperience, announced their presence as top Derby contenders in Independence Hall (Jerome Stakes) and Authentic (Sham Stakes).
Forecasting the 20-horse field – and even taking an early stand on a potential winner backed by a future wager – is an annual highlight of Derby season, and the bookmakers at William Hill have started taking fixed-odds future wagers on Derby 146, which will be held May 2, 2020.
As in years past, in this blog we’ll take a periodic look at William Hill’s future-book odds for the Kentucky Derby and profile some of the contenders.
Jan. 5 William Hill Odds Leaders to Win the 2020 Kentucky Derby:
1) Tiz the Law (8-1)
2) Independence Hall (10-1)
3) Dennis’ Moment (12-1)
3) Maxfield (12-1)
3) Storm the Court (12-1)
6) Honor A.P. (14-1)
Four to Watch:
Authentic: After winning the Sham Stakes last weekend at Santa Anita Park by 7 ¾ lengths, this son of Into Mischief deserves a prominent spot in what will be, if past years are any indication, a crowded stable of Bob Baffert-trained Derby contenders. He earned an impressive 110 Equibase Speed Figure for his runaway victory in the one-mile, two-turn Sham, and there’s still much room for improvement as he appeared to be looking at the Santa Anita stands at the top of the stretch and then ducked in and out through the lane despite jockey Drayden Van Dyke’s handling. (Baffert told Santa Anita's press office that he might fit the colt with blinkers and/or ear plugs for his next start.) The Sham was Authentic's first appearance since he scored by 1 ½ lengths at Del Mar in early November, and he’s getting 20-1 odds on William Hill’s latest sheet. Into Mischief, who led the 2019 North American sire list by progeny earnings, has yet to be represented by a classic winner and has a reputation for siring middle-distance runners, but horses such as Audible (third in the 2018 Derby) and Owendale (third in last year’s Preakness) are starting to change that assessment. (Baffert-trained Azul Coast, a well-beaten second in the Sham, is offered at 35-1 odds by William Hill).
Gold Street: This Steve Asmussen-trained colt romped by 3 ½ lengths in the six-furlong Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds Dec. 21 and may make his next start in the Jan. 24 Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park, a Derby points race. His Sugar Bowl score followed a dominant maiden win by seven lengths at Churchill Downs in November, which was his fourth career start after finishing ninth, second, and second, all at sprint distances. The Kentucky Derby’s mile and a quarter may be too demanding a distance for this talented Street Boss colt, who has a sprinter-miler pedigree. It’s also worth noting that both of his wins have come on sloppy racetracks. Still, he was dueling for the lead from the start in the Sugar Bowl and still managed to draw clear impressively in the stretch, and he bears watching in the Smarty Jones as he tries to stretch out. Gold Street is offered at 100-1 odds by William Hill.
Tizamagician: After finishing second four times in his five starts as a 2-year-old, this Tiznow colt trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella showed encouraging development in his 3-year-old debut on New Year’s Day at Santa Anita Park, powering to a 2 ½-length win in a one-mile maiden special weight race. “He looked like he’s turned the corner on me,” Mandella told Steve Andersen of Daily Racing Form, “I think it’s just maturity.” Indeed, the colt looked very professional in his first start since a runner-up finish Nov. 30 at Del Mar, settling just behind the pacesetter while under a hold by jockey Victor Espinoza and then responding willingly when Espinoza urged him to the lead early on the far turn. He shot clear at the top of the stretch and continued well to the finish, earning a 102 Equibase Speed Figure, and he’s a new addition on William Hill’s Jan. 5 Derby futures sheet at 150-1 odds. Those odds look very appealing, especially when recalling that it took Mandella-trained Omaha Beach several starts before he emerged as a top Kentucky Derby contender last spring. Tizamagician does not possess the same caliber of pedigree as Omaha Beach, although his dam did earn more than $200,000 in her career and ran second in the 1 1/16-mile, Grade 2 Azeri Stakes. Queen’s Plate winner Sir Dudley Digges is a notable family member.
As Seen On Tv: This Florida-bred Lookin At Lucky colt sits at 75-1 odds on William Hill’s newest sheet, offering appeal to fans of Flex-Seal, Socket Shelf, Plexaderm … you name it. What’s more, he’s an under-the-radar Kentucky Derby candidate who suffered no loss of status by finishing a valiant second to Chance It by a head in the Jan. 4 Mucho Macho Man Stakes at Gulfstream Park. In that one-mile, one-turn race, As Seen On Tv relaxed patiently in second behind the pacesetter before moving up early on the far turn, where was joined by fellow stalker and 7-10 favorite Chance It as the pair forged ahead and prepared for what turned out to be a thrilling stretch duel. Both colts led at various points in the final sixteenth, but Chance It prevailed at the finish line (he was profiled in an earlier edition of this blog and is offered at 40-1 odds by William Hill). As Seen On Tv has won two of four career starts with two seconds, and actually has a better pedigree for longer distances than does Chance It, who is by sprinter Currency Swap. Lookin At Lucky, the 2010 Preakness and Haskell Invitational Stakes winner, has sired standout routers such as Accelerate, Wow Cat, and last year’s disqualification-aided Kentucky Derby winner Country House, and As Seen On Tv’s dam also produced Cage Fighter, a stakes winner on turf at 1 1/8 miles. This colt’s second dam (maternal grandmother) was a graded stakes winner at 1 1/16 miles and was graded stakes-placed at a mile and a quarter.