It’s time for Rick’s Picks, my annual attempt at predicting the top three finishers in the Derby, which is as easy as selecting the eventual high school valedictorian from a class of kindergartners.
WIN: Zandon. He will race out of the No. 10 post position and is also coming off a way-off-the-pace victory in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland. He will be ridden by jockey Flavien Prat who has an impressive Derby record. Derby favorites have won only 35% of the time. Odds: 3-1.
PLACE: Taiba. He has only raced twice, but was victorious in both races; most recently by 2 ¼ lengths in the Santa Anita Derby. No horse has won the Derby after only two starts since Leonatus in 1883. Jockey Mike Smith, at 56, is trying to become the oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby. Four years ago, Smith won the Triple Crown aboard Justify. Odds: 12-1.
SHOW: Messier. Named after the great hockey player, Messier, a Canadian-bred, will be ridden by John Velazquez, 50, who would have four Derby wins had Medina Spirit not been disqualified after last year’s race due to a failed drug test. Messier is trained by Bob Baffert’s former assistant Tim Takteen. Odds: 8-1.
BEST LONGSHOT: Cyberknife. Don’t be surprised if this horse hits the board. Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by jockey Florent Geroux, Cyberknife has run six times and finished outside the money only once. He’s named for a non-invasive treatment for tumors. Odds: 20-1.