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 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. In addition to the Vegas odds, Churchill Downs is holding their fourth Future Wager pool from April 3-5.
The pool opens with “All Others” favored at 5-2 odds, while Nadal and Tiz the Law lead the 23 individual horses at 6-1 opening odds. Churchill’s Derby Future Wager runs from noon April 3 through 6 p.m. ET on April 5.
As reported by Marty McGee in Daily Racing Form, Churchill Downs officials told the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that the company would probably offer two more Future Wager pools in July and August leading up to the rescheduled Derby on Sept. 5.
March 29 William Hill Odds Leaders to Win the 2020 Kentucky Derby:
1) Tiz the Law (7-2)
2) Authentic (9-2)
3) Charlatan (7-1)
4) Nadal (8-1)
5) Maxfield (9-1)
6) Honor A. P. (10-1)
6) Sole Volante (10-1)
Tiz the Law, already the Kentucky Derby favorite in most future books for several weeks prior to his commanding win in last Saturday’s Curlin Florida Derby, saw his odds drop from 5-1 to 7-2 in William Hill’s March 29 sheet. If the run for the roses was held as originally scheduled on May 2, those odds would be acceptable and probably close to what he’d go off at when the gates opened. With the Derby bumped back to late summer, however, they’re dicey to say the least. That’s disappointing to contemplate, because Barclay Tagg and Sackatoga Stable could not have done a better job preparing Tiz the Law for the first Saturday in May and plotting his prep schedule. Tagg told the media that an ambitious summer campaign of Preakness Stakes-Belmont Stakes-Travers Stakes would be an ideal path to the Sept. 5 Derby, but it’s an open question at this point whether any – or all – of those races will go off as scheduled. No matter what, Tiz the Law has the look of a colt who will only get better as he matures and gains racing experience, and it will be exciting to watch him do so in the coming months.
Florida Derby runner-up Shivaree debuts on William Hill’s sheet at 100-1 odds despite picking up 40 qualifying Kentucky Derby points with his game effort. Trainer Ralph Nicks admitted after the Florida Derby that his connections were not sure if the Florida-bred Awesome of Course colt could get the Florida Derby’s 1 1/8-mile distance, and visually it was evident in deep stretch that jockey Emisael Jaramillo was all out in urging his mount to hold on for second, which he did. It seems a more likely scenario at this point to see Shivaree win a race on Gulfstream Park’s Summit of Speed card this September, or travel in late summer to compete in the H. Allan Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga, than it does to see him starting in the Kentucky Derby.
Wells Bayou, impressive winner of the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 21, saw his odds drop from 125-1 to 20-1 on William Hill’s March 29 sheet. He shapes up as a major player in the May 2 Arkansas Derby if his connections stick with that plan, since he’s already proven to have an affinity for Oaklawn Park’s track with an allowance win and a good second to Silver Prospector in the Southwest Stakes.
Todd Pletcher-trained Money Moves dropped from 125-1 to 60-1 odds on William Hill’s latest sheet after an eye-catching 2 ¾-length score in a competitive allowance-optional claiming race going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park on March 28. He improved to 2-for-2 in his young career after winning a six-furlong Gulfstream maiden in the slop by 1 ¼ lengths Feb. 15 (boosting his Equibase Speed Figure from 87 to 96) and should have no problem taking the next step and trying two turns.
Money Moves is a son of good stamina sire Candy Ride, and while his dam, by Kentucky Derby runner-up Proud Citizen, was a pure sprinter who earned over $300,000 and won three stakes races, he has more heft deeper in the bloodline. He is from the family of Grade 1 Donn Handicap winner Hymn Book, champion 2-year-old filly and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Caledonia Road, and Grade 1-winnng turf miler Data Link (recent Gotham Stakes third-place finisher Attachment Rate is also a relative). Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs are still racing as of April 2, but stakes options in the coming weeks are scarce. Nevertheless, there’s suddenly a lot more time for this colt, who was a $975,000 purchase as a juvenile, to develop.
Two to watch:
The four-month delay of the Kentucky Derby to Sept. 5 has given future-book players a chance to re-calibrate their bearings and take a second look at 3-year-olds who may have not accomplished much as of early April but have shown enough potential to warrant longshot consideration for the “First Saturday in September.” Here’s a couple that stand out at triple-digit odds via William Hill:
Mystic Guide: This Godolphin homebred debuts on William Hill’s latest sheet at 100-1 odds, and get ’em while you can. He looked the part of a graded stakes-winning racehorse in only his second career start on the March 21 Louisiana Derby undercard at Fair Grounds, sitting a stalking trip in the 1 1/16-mile race and effortlessly pulling clear to a five-length win that earned a 99 Equibase Speed Figure. This son of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper stretched out after finishing third in a six-furlong maiden on Feb. 14 and should relish even more real estate based on his pedigree. Mystic Guide’s dam, Music Note, by A.P. Indy, was one of the best fillies racing from 2007-’09, winning seven of 12 starts, including four Grade 1s, and earning more than $1.6 million while finishing second by a head in the 1 ¼-mile Alabama Stakes in 2008 and third in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (now Distaff) in both 2008 and 2009. It will be interesting to see where Mystic Guide surfaces next given the dwindling number of tracks operating. As trainer Michael Stidham told Horse Racing Nation, “We thought we’d have no chance to make May 2. Obviously things have changed. “
Roman Empire: Another Todd Pletcher trainee, Roman Empire sits at 150-1 after romping by 8 ¾ lengths in a one-turn-mile maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park Feb. 28, his second career start and first on dirt. He basically paired his Equibase Speed Figures when making the switch (88 in his third-place debut, 86 in his win) and that number range will obviously need to improve, but there’s plenty of time for that. This colt is by Belmont winner Empire Maker and his female family includes top-class stamina horses Eddington (a millionaire who hit the board in the Preakness Stakes and Travers Stakes) and European Group 1 winner Miserden.
Pletcher is renowned for gearing up his 3-year-olds each spring with the first Saturday in May in mind (recall how horses such as Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017 peaked like clockwork in the Kentucky Derby), but this year is obviously different. Roman Empire, like Money Moves, will be one to keep close tabs on while taking a fresh look at this crop of 3-year-olds during an elongated Triple Crown season.