Sizing up the field for Saturday's 141st running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs:
1 OCHO OCHO OCHO (50-1)
Need to know: His small stature isn't a good fit for the dangerous inside post, which could end his chances early. Neither of his two races this year has been impressive. Ocho showed nothing in an eighth-place finish in the San Felipe, then set the early pace in the Blue Grass Stakes before fading to a well-beaten third. His best Beyer Speed Figure of the year (86) is second-worst in the field ahead of Frammento.
A good bet? His dad — Street Sense — won the Derby as the favorite in 2007. Ocho will be one of the longest shots on the board, deservedly so. Don't expect him to finish in the money.
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2 CARPE DIEM (8-1)
Need to know: He finished second as the favorite in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile — his only loss — and has won both races this year comfortably. He took over the Blue Grass Stakes at the top of the stretch after running close to the pace, but he didn't beat anyone of substance in that one. Eight horses in this field have run a triple-digit Beyer, but Carpe Diem isn't one of them.
A good bet? He hasn't done anything wrong, but his competition has been pretty weak this year. There seem to be better horses with longer prices in this field. Not much value at 8-1.
3 MATERIALITY (12-1)
Need to know: As you've probably heard, no horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old. Materiality made his debut Jan. 11 and has been spectacular since, winning the Florida Derby by fighting off Upstart with a gritty effort. That race earned him a 110 Beyer, the best in the field. The performance in Florida was impressive, but Saturday will be a whole new ball game.
A good bet? He's a talent, for sure, but history says he won't win this one. Many great horses have tried to break Apollo's Curse. Don't expect him to be the one to do it.
4 TENCENDUR (30-1)
Need to know: The one-time winner looked a little twitchy at times in his first two big Derby preps — fourth in the Withers and fifth in the Gotham. He showed some good kick after running closer to the pace than usual the last time out in the Wood Memorial, but Frosted blew right by him and won that race by 2 lengths. Fun fact: Jockey Manny Franco is back for the first time since riding Tencendur to his only victory.
A good bet? He clearly took a big step forward in the Wood, but he still didn't show much that indicates he'll compete in this one. Think there are better plays in the long-shot crew.
5 DANZIG MOON (30-1)
Need to know: He wasn't 100 percent when he turned in a fourth-place clunker in the Tampa Bay Derby but came back in good form to run second to Carpe Diem in the Blue Grass Stakes. Danzig Moon went 5 furlongs in :58 flat at Churchill Downs on April 18, a bullet work that was faster than his connections wanted. "I think he got a little overzealous," said assistant trainer Norman Casse. He'll come from off the pace.
A good bet? He was still running at the end of the Blue Grass, but he never looked like a threat to win it. Don't expect him to be close enough to even threaten at the end Saturday.
6 MUBTAAHIJ (20-1)
Need to know: The mystery horse of 2015 comes to the States off of a visually impressive, 8-length victory in the UAE Derby. His last five races have been in Dubai, and his only other two were in England. Six UAE Derby winners have run for the roses since the Dubai race started in 2000, and none of those horses has finished in the top five. Mubtaahij looked like a star over there, but will it translate Saturday?
A good bet? Those 20-1 odds are enticing for a guy who looked like a star in his last two races. Not a bad play in exotics, but until a Dubai shipper shows something, it's hard to be a believer.
7 EL KABEIR (30-1): Scratched Friday
8 DORTMUND (3-1)
Need to know: This enormous colt remains unbeaten in six career races, and he's turned in Beyers of 104, 104 and 106 in three starts this year. The first showed his grit: Giving up the lead to a game Firing Line and then taking it right back. He won the last two in wire-to-wire fashion. Look for him to get position just off the pace. If he has room to unleash that long stride at the top of the stretch, look out.
A good bet? In most years, he'd be the no-brainer favorite. He's just as deserving of that distinction as "Pharoah" and more battle-tested, too. 3-1 odds are short, but he's the pick to win.
9 BOLO (30-1)
Need to know: Bolo was a budding turf star until his connections opted for a move to the dirt in anticipation of the Derby. He looked good in his debut on the surface, a fairly close third-place finish behind Dortmund in the San Felipe. He didn't get close to the winner in the Santa Anita. Bolo's best races in the future will probably be on the grass, but the Derby has been hospitable to such horses in recent years.
A good bet? He's lost to Dortmund twice, but — on paper — those performances have been more impressive than others with similar odds. He shouldn't be ignored in exotics.
10 FIRING LINE (12-1)
Need to know: He finished his 2-year-old season with a hard-fought loss to Dortmund, then looked like he had the big guy beat in his 3-year-old debut. Dortmund rallied to win that one, and Firing Line left California to smoke the Sunland Derby field by nearly 15 lengths under a hand ride by Gary Stevens. His last race was March 22, and that's the longest layoff of the 20 horses in this field.
A good bet? If you like Dortmund, you should like this guy. At 12-1, you should like him a lot. A good play to hit the board and maybe the best horse in the race after the big two.
11 STANFORD (30-1): Scratched Thursday
12 INTERNATIONAL STAR (20-1): Scratched Saturday
13 ITSAKNOCKOUT (30-1)
Need to know: The oddly run Fountain of Youth Stakes ended with him as the winner after a DQ of Upstart, who crossed the finish line first but drifted into Itsaknockout just as the latter seemed to get moving. He showed nothing in the Florida Derby, running off the pace before finishing 21 lengths back. His speed number (76) that day is the worst last-race Beyer in the field, and it's not even close.
A good bet? Todd Pletcher has one Derby winner out of 40 career starters. It would be a shocker if Itsaknockout gives his trainer a second victory. Not interested, even at 30-1.
14 KEEN ICE (50-1)
Need to know: He came from off the pace in each of his three prep races, all losses to International Star. He looked good at the end of the Risen Star Stakes, getting up for third place and finishing strong. He didn't show much of anything in the stretch in the other two races. Keen Ice's only victory in seven career starts came at Churchill Downs last September, when he rallied from 10 lengths back for the win.
A good bet? He'll probably be one of those picking off tired horses in the stretch, which means he could spice up the back end of a superfecta. Still, there are better long shots here.
15 FROSTED (15-1)
Need to know: Frosted started the prep season in Florida — finishing behind Upstart twice — then moved to New York, where he scored a huge win in the Wood Memorial. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin made a couple of changes before that race, sending Frosted in for a minor throat operation and replacing his regular jockey with Joel Rosario, the 2013 Derby winner. Both of his career victories have come at Aqueduct.
A good bet? If the Frosted we saw in the Wood is the Frosted who shows up Saturday, he might be the best value in the field at 15-1. He'll be tough to throw out of the exotics.
16 WAR STORY (50-1)
Need to know: Another one who's been racing in Louisiana all year, War Story finished second behind International Star in his first two preps, then third behind "Star" and the scratched Stanford last time out. On paper, he's not very exciting, but he was moving well at the end of his last two races. He made his career debut last November at Churchill Downs, winning that race — his only one outside of Louisiana.
A good bet? He's still waiting for that breakthrough performance against top competition. Of the five 50-1 shots, he could be the one to make a superfecta interesting.
17 MR. Z (50-1)
Need to know: Mr. Z won a 6-furlong race at Churchill Downs last June in his first career start. He's run 11 races at eight different tracks since then, and he hasn't returned to the winner's circle. He was destroyed by American Pharoah last time out, ran a complete dud in the Louisiana Derby the race before that and has drifted wildly in the stretch a couple of times this year.
A good bet? Double his 50-1 morning-line price and he still doesn't look like a smart bet. If you get him in one of those last-place-pays office pools, you might have a winner.
18 AMERICAN PHAROAH (5-2)
Need to know: He's done everything right since a fourth-place debut on the Del Mar synthetic course last August. He skipped home in the slop in the Rebel Stakes, winning that one by more than 6 lengths after not racing for nearly six months. His Arkansas Derby performance was a thing of beauty, winning by 8 lengths with ease. Last year's winner Victor Espinoza rides. Three-time winner Bob Baffert trains.
A good bet? He could be the next great one, but he still hasn't beaten proven competition, and others have run just as fast. It's hard not to like him, but 5-2 in this field seems too short.
19 UPSTART (15-1)
Need to know: He looked like a possible Derby favorite after his season-opening romp in the Holy Bull earned him a 105 Beyer. He was disqualified from first in the Fountain of Youth, then gave Materiality all he could handle in the Florida Derby, a runner-up finish that resulted in a 108 Beyer (second-best in the field). Whether he can go the Derby distance remains to be seen, but this guy is a fighter.
A good bet? There's a lot to like about him at 15-1, and he hasn't generated much buzz leading up to the race. Put him in your exotics and hope he's running at the end.
20 FAR RIGHT (30-1)
Need to know: He would have swept the Oaklawn Park prep season if not for that freak American Pharoah crashing his party in the Arkansas Derby. His style is to go to the back of the pack and make a huge run at the end, which led to victories in the Southwest and Smarty Jones Stakes, though he never stood a chance of doing that to "Pharoah." He broke his maiden at Churchill Downs last September.
A good bet? His running style suggests he'll be coming at the end, just like the last two Derby runners-up (also big long shots). Of the 30-1 crowd, he seems the best shot to hit the board.
21 FRAMMENTO (50-1)
Need to know: He got into the race when Stanford scratched Thursday, and he'll break from the extreme outside post. Frammento finished nearly 20 lengths back in the Holy Bull, then screamed home to a third-place finish in the Fountain of Youth on a day when every other horse dawdled through the stretch. He never made his move while finishing fourth in the Blue Grass. His best Beyer is 85, worst in the race.
A good bet? That Fountain of Youth finish sure was interesting. He seems like he'll go the distance, and if he can finish like that Saturday ... who knows. Don't discount him in the exotics.