Kentucky Derby Futures: Shifting Odds During a Hectic Prep Season

Dr Post (green jockey cap and silks) emerged out of the pack to win the Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream Park on April 25, his second win in as many starts so far this year. (Ryan Thompson/Coglianese Photo)

The road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve has, due to a global public health crisis, stretched out another four months and widened considerably. With the Derby rescheduled to Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs, the pool of potential contenders to make the 20-horse starting gate now welcomes late-developing types to join the select few that have already won major preps and earned qualifying points.

The bookmakers at William Hill continue to take fixed-odds future wagers on Kentucky Derby 146, and as in years past in this blog we’ll take a periodic look at William Hill’s future-book odds and profile some of the contenders.

This is the first ABR update since the end of March, when the Curlin Florida Derby wrapped up the originally scheduled Kentucky Derby prep series two weeks early. The Toyota Blue Grass Stakes set for April 4 was canceled, and both the Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby were postponed (the latter has tentatively been rescheduled for June 6).

Oaklawn Park shifted the Arkansas Derby, originally planned for April 11, to the usual first Saturday in May reserved for the Kentucky Derby, and the race was split into two divisions to accommodate an influx of 3-year-olds seeking one final qualifying points race before a potentially lengthy interregnum. William Hill’s odds below reflect the results of the Arkansas Derby and also some notable horses that have performed well in other stakes, allowance, and maiden races.

May 5 William Hill Odds Leaders to Win the 2020 Kentucky Derby:

1) Nadal (4-1)

1) Tiz the Law (4-1)

3) Charlatan (9-2)

4) Authentic (5-1)

5) Honor A. P. (12-1)

5) Maxfield (12-1)

5) Sole Volante (12-1)

Notable Changes: Nadal and Charlatan both moved up the odds board after their impressive wins in divisions of the Arkansas Derby on May 2. Nadal, who turned back King Guillermo’s brief stretch challenge to win the second division by three lengths, is now the co-leader along with Curlin Florida Derby winner Tiz the Law at 4-1 odds (down from 8-1 on March 29). Charlatan, who validated his high expectations with a six-length runaway score in the Arkansas Derby’s first division, moved from 7-1 odds in late March to 9-2. Authentic,  the remaning member of Bob Baffert’s top-tier trio, sits at 5-1 (slightly up from 9-2) in advance of a possible start in the rescheduled Santa Anita Derby. And Maxfield, who has not raced since acing the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity last October at Keeneland, is getting 12-1 odds, up from 9-1 in late March, as he targets a potential return in the May 23 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. (Read more about Charlatan’s growing résumé as a Triple Crown contender in Mike Curry’s latest Making the Grade profile.)

Among the Arkansas Derby also-rans, King Guillermo saw his William Hill Kentucky Derby future drop from 25-1 in late March to 20-1 on May 2, reflecting his solid runner-up effort behind Nadal off of a two-month layoff. Basin, who finished well back of Charlatan in the first division, remains at 20-1 odds.

Four to watch: The four-month delay of the Kentucky Derby to Sept. 5 has given future-book players a chance to recalibrate their bearings and take a second look at 3-year-olds who have shown enough potential to warrant longshot consideration for the “First Saturday in September.” Here’s a pair offered at high odds at William Hill plus two more currently not listed that impressed in a recent maiden race and are worth watching as they develop over the summer:

Dr Post: This colt impressively broke his maiden in his second start on March 29 coming back off a nearly nine-month layoff, just as William Hill issued a Derby future odds update. He wasn’t listed then, but opened at 100-1 afterward. Now, he’s offered at 50-1 odds following a 1 ½-length win in the Unbridled Stakes at Gulfstream Park on April 25. He stretched out from seven furlongs in his maiden win to two turns at 1 1/16 miles, and overcame a very rough incident in early stretch. Dr Post was sandwiched between horses and got bumped but still drew clear late, earning a 101 Equibase Speed Figure. He is a son of Florida Derby winner Quality Road, one of the most promising young sires in North America, and although his dam, Mary Delaney, was a Grade 2-winning sprinter, this one is a physical specimen who appeared to be craving more distance based on his finish in the Unbridled Stakes. Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown certainly has wide-open options to consider for his next step up the class ladder, with a return to Belmont Park (where he debuted last summer) a possibility if/when “Big Sandy” reopens.

Pneumatic (Coady Photography)

Pneumatic: Another colt who was not offered by William Hill six weeks ago, Pneumatic sits at 75-1 odds on the May 2 futures sheet based on his 2-for-2 record, top-class connections, and of course, the extended Derby timeline. He broke his maiden at Oaklawn Park back in February going six furlongs, and then looked even better, although still immature, in a 2 ½-length allowance score at Oaklawn when stretched out to a two-turn mile on April 11. Owner-breeder Winchell Thoroughbreds briefly considered him for the Arkansas Derby but decided to pass, and that looks like a wise decision considering how well Bob Baffert’s star twosome ran. Look for this Steve Asmussen trainee to make his next start at Churchill Downs during their shortened summer meet. He’s well-bred for route racing, as a son of champion and prominent young sire Uncle Mo and out of a dam by Tapit who’s a either a full-sister (same dam [mother], same sire [father]) or a three-quarter sister (same dam [mother], same grandsire [paternal grandfather]) to four stakes winners in two-turn races, including 2008 Louisiana Derby winner Pyro.

Basquiat (right) defeats Ashiham. (Ryan Thompson/Coglianese Photo)

Basquiat and Ashiham: Neither of these colts is listed on William Hill’s May 2 Kentucky Derby futures sheet, but they very well could be in the weeks ahead. They finished 1-2 in a seven-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream Park on April 25, which was Basquiat’s career debut and Ashiham’s second start following a fourth-place effort at Gulfstream on Feb. 29. Basquiat scored off a stalking trip in the 10-horse field as the 1.90-1 second betting choice, while Ashiham came from farther back and closed well late as the 9-5 favorite. Both appeared very well equipped to handle longer distances. Trained by Chad Brown, Basquiat is a Peter Brant homebred, with a name to reflect Brant’s passion for modern art. He’s an imposing son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah who also possesses an impressive European-centric pedigree on his dam’s (mother’s) side, as his relatives include a four-time German and Italian Group 1 winner at distances of 1 ¼ and 1 ½ miles, a French Group 1 winner at 1 1/8 miles and 1 ¼ miles, and an English classic winner among several other top-shelf horses.    

Ashiham, who was transferred from Kiaran McLaughlin to Todd Pletcher after his debut when the former retired from training, touts similarly impressive bloodlines. The Shadwell Stable homebred is by Tapit and out of Wine Princess, a daughter of Ghostzapper who won two graded stakes at distances of 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 miles. His second dam (maternal grandmother) is 2002 Horse of the Year, three-time champion, and 2010 Hall of Fame inductee Azeri.

Normally, poring over the results of that April 25 Gulfstream Park maiden would lead one to start thinking about Belmont Park, or better still, Saratoga, as a proper venue to host a possible coming-out party for Basquiat and/or Ashiham. This year is not normal, to put it mildly, and with the road to the Kentucky Derby still welcoming late arrivals, getting triple-digit future-book odds on either one of these two precocious 3-year-olds would be an enticing prospect indeed.

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