Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ready for the Derby? Story Lines and Tips

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ready for the Derby? Story Lines and Tips

Article excerpt

Byline: Chet Fussman

Kentucky Derby 139 is filled with story lines. It's not clear who the betting favorite will be; a female jockey could win the race for the first time; and Rick Pitino, who had everything else go right this year, could be adding Roses to his mantle.

What you need to know about Saturday's race:

Who is supposed to win?

The morning line has Orb, who won the Florida Derby, a slight favorite over Verrazano, unbeaten in four career starts. But the public is usually wrong. The betting favorite has won only three of the last 12 runnings and none of the last four, when the winner was sent off at odds of 15-1, 20-1, 8-1 and 50-1.

If Verrazano (named for the bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island) is unbeaten by a combined 28 lengths, why shouldn't he win?

The Derby is for 3-year-olds and Verrazano did not race at 2. The last horse to win the Derby and was unraced at age 2 is Apollo in 1882. That's more than 130 years ago. The feeling is that horses that do not race at 2 lack the necessary foundation to handle the demanding 1 1/4-mile Derby distance. What adds to Verrazano's intrigue is his first race was on Jan. 1, the day he turned 3. Had he raced the day before, he would have raced at age 2.

Which horse does Rick Pitino own?

Is anyone in sports on more of a roll? The Louisville basketball coach, who in the past month won the national championship, was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame and saw his son hired as the new head coach at Minnesota, owns 5 percent of Goldencents, the likely third choice in the wagering. Goldencents won the Santa Anita Derby and posted the fastest time of all the Derby preps. More good karma for Pitino: Goldencents is trained by Doug O'Neill, who won last year's Run for the Roses with I'll Have Another.

What are the best jockey stories?

Rosie Napravnik, profiled on "60 Minutes'' last Sunday, won the Kentucky Oaks (the race for fillies) last year and will be aboard Mylute (15-1) for Saturday's race. No female rider has won the Derby (Napravnik finished ninth aboard Pants on Fire last year) but it's only a matter of time. Napravnik's more than capable - her mounts in 2012 won more than $12 million.

Kevin Krigger, the rider on Goldencents, is attempting to be the first African-American jockey to win the Kentucky Derby since 1902. Krigger, 29, a native of the Virgin Islands, is the first black jockey in the Derby since 2002. Though not a high-profile jockey, Krigger has experienced a fair amount of success riding in California. Last year's winning rider, Mario Gutierrez, had a similar profile to Krigger.

What are Florida's ties to the Derby 139?

None of the 20 horses in the field were bred in Florida. In fact, all except long shots Falling Sky and Giant Finish were bred in Kentucky. The Sunshine State's home horse is Itsmyluckyday (15-1), who was purchased at the Ocala Breeders Sale in 2012, trains in South Florida and finished second in the Florida Derby. …

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