OFF TO THE RACES

Fred Faour: First look at the 20-horse field for Saturday's Kentucky Derby

Justify is your 3-1 favorite for the Derby. Santaanita.com

Saturday is Derby Day, and if you get a chance go to Sam Houston Race Park to watch the races and come by and say hello. I will be in the ESPN VIP section. There will be a lot of content here over the next couple days. I will have a Derby trends story for SportsMap on Thursday, actual picks and plays (including my trfiecta) for Friday and hopefully a video as well for Thursday. For pregame.com, I will be doing a podcast with RJ Bell on Thursday and premium plays there on Friday as well.

For now, here is a breakdown of every horse in the race (betting number/post position is next to each horse's name):

1. FIRENZE FIRE

Trainer: Jason Servis

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Record: 9 starts, 4 wins, 1 second, 0 thirds.

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...He runs the race of his life. Showed some promise as a 2-year-old but is probably better as a sprinter/miler and it would take a career-best effort to even sniff the board.

2. FREE DROP BILLY

Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Robby Albarado

Record: 8-2-3-2

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He shows massive improvement. His first start of the year was solid, but has tailed off. Like the 1 horse, he showed promise as a 2-year-old. Might be primed for a big effort but likely a midpack finisher.

3. PROMISES FULFILLED

Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Record: 5-3-0-1

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He can wire this group. He is the speed of the race, and if you can toss his last effort he could hang around a long time. More likely he gets pressed by the likes of Justify and perhaps Flameaway and can’t handle the pressure for the full distance. But if the other speed fails to break he could last a while.

4. FLAMEAWAY

Trainer: Mark Casse

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Record: 9-5-2-0

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He can get an easy lead and run the race of his life, no easy feat considering the horse to his inside. He is a nice runner and usually gives his all but seems a little below the top tier and likely up against it from a pace standpoint.

5. AUDIBLE

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Record: 5-4-0-1

Odds: 8-1

He will win if...He can improve just a little, and he certainly can. Dominated the Florida preps for this and is going in the right direction. One of four Pletcher horses with a real shot, although jockey John Velazquez opted for another of Pletcher’s contenders. He has a real chance here.

6. GOOD MAGIC

Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Record: 5-2-2-1

Odds: 12-1

He will win if...Brown, a terrific trainer, has him ready, and he very well could. The horse won the BC Juvenile to cap off a solid 2-year-old campaign. He flopped in his 3-year-old debut, but needed that race, and bounced back with a grind-it-out win in a slow Blue Grass Stakes. Will need to be better, but Brown has been pointing to this and should have him on go. Serious contender at a nice price.

7. JUSTIFY

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Mike Smith

Record: 3-3-0-0

Odds: 3-1

He will win if...He really is as good as he has looked in his three starts. He is incredibly fast, Baffert knows how to win Derbys (four) and the horse will be able to make his own luck. Still, he did not race at 2, and by now you have heard that horses that did not race as 2-year-olds have not won the Derby since 1882. He was also beating small fields in California, and will be tested here like never before. Short price is unappealing, but he will have to be dealt with.

8. LONE SAILOR

Trainer: Tom Amoss

Jockey: James Graham

Record: 8-1-3-1

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...He improves significantly and some of the big dogs fail to fire. He is a really nice, solid horse, but has yet to run anything good enough to win this. More likely he is in the mix for a minor award.

9. HOFBURG

Trainer: Bill Mott

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Record: 3-1-1-0

Odds: 20-1

He will win if...He takes a big step forward off his solid second in the Florida Derby. That was just his third race, and he ran very well. Mott is one of the most respected trainers in the business, and would not be here if he did not think the horse had a shot. Well bred to handle the distance. A live, sneaky long shot.

10. MY BOY JACK

Trainer: Keith Desormeaux

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Record: 10-3-3-2

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...The race collapses and he gets the jump on the other closers. An interesting sort, he does not seem fast enough to win this, but could easily mess up the back end of the tris and superfectas. Another solid runner who might be in too deep, but would not be a shock for a minor award.

11. BOLT d’ORO

Trainer: Mick Ruis

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Record: 6-4-1-1

Odds: 8-1

He will win if...He improves off a strong second to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby. He was not cranked all the way up for that one, and Justify was able to coast to an easy lead, so he was up against it from a pace standpoint, too. Has yet to run a bad race, should be in the second flight early and should be sitting on a big one. Another serious contender.

12. ENTICED

Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Record: 6-3-1-1

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He gets a clean trip, improves a little and has things fall his way. Was a troubled second in the Wood, but has a stakes win at Churchill as a 2-year-old, a nice late kick and is battle tested. A live long shot.

13. BRAVAZO

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Jockey: Luis Contreras

Record: 8-3-1-1

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...Lukas can find some old magic. This guy is a gutsy sort who won the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Lukas horses have a tendency to improve out of nowhere. He will need to do that, because he just does not seem fast enough to compete with these.

14. MENDELSSOHN

Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Jockey: Ryan Moore

Record: 7-4-1-0

Odds: 5-1

He will win if...He can overcome the Dubai curse. No horse has prepped there and made much of an impact on the Derby. But this guy destroyed the UAE Derby field by almost 19 lengths, and also shipped over here to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at 2, so this is not new griound for him. He will be up close, and if he takes to Churchill and the travel was not too much, this should be the horse to end the Dubai drought.

15. INSTILLED REGARD

Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Record: 7-2-2-1

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...He won’t. He really has not shown anything even remotely close to winning this. He should improve, but it would be a monumental upset if he had any impact at all.

16. MAGNUM MOON

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Luis Saez

Record: 4-4-0-0

Odds: 6-1

He will win if...He can overcome that 1882 bit that we mentioned with Justify. All four starts -- all wins -- have come at 3. He has looked sharp in his last two, but was able to set a slow pace in Arkansas and he won’t be able to do that here. Still, he can stalk a little as well. He drifted in the stretch of the Arkansas Derby and that kind of erratic behaviour can get you beat in Kentucky. Still, a contender.

17. SOLOMINI

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Record: 6-1-3-2

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He can run his best race yet. Looked like one of the best 2-year-olds out there last year but has not had much luck chasing Magnum Moon at 3 and has not really improved. Will need a big move forward to turn the tables.

18. VINO ROSSO

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: John Velazquez

Record: 5-3-0-1

Odds: 12-1

He will win if...That win in the Wood Memorial was not a fluke. He had been close in stakes company at Tampa, but exploded when he went to New York. Was it a one-off? Jockey Velazquez had his choice between this one, Noble Indy and Audible, and he chose this guy. Still like the horse that finished second behind him in the Wood a little better but hard to ignore this guy.

19. NOBLE INDY

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Record: 4-3-0-1

Odds: 30-1

He will win if.... He improves significantly. He certainly could. The fourth Pletcher horse probably beat the weakest group to get here and has been the least impressive of all of them. But it’s also possible we have not seen his best race yet.

20. COMBATANT

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Record: 7-1-3-1

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...Well, let’s face it; he probably won’t. But this is the kind of horse I love as an exacta/trifecta back end kicker. His last race was better than it looks on paper, he has a habit of clunking up for second or third and the added distance should help with that. He reminds me a lot of Lookin’ at Lee, another Asmussen runner who did the same thing by running second last year. Love the 50-1 price and will be using him in my plays.

 

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Houston gets another victory in Anaheim

Astros overpower Angels again as magic number dwindles

Kyle Tucker had 3 of Houston's RBI on Tuesday night, including a two-run homer. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

After a beatdown of the Angels on Monday in the opener, the Astros entered Tuesday's game looking to replicate that success. Though Los Angeles would put up more of a fight, Houston still used their potent offense to keep the game out of reach.

Final Score: Astros 10, Angels 5

Astros' Record: 90-61, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (8-3)

Losing Pitcher: Packy Naughton (0-3)

Houston's bats keep connecting to back up Urquidy

The Astros picked up on Tuesday's game where they left off on Monday, launching homers to take and extend a lead. A leadoff walk by Carlos Correa in the top of the second set up Kyle Tucker, who drove a two-run shot. Aledmys Diaz was next, making it back-to-back jacks to push the new lead to 3-0.

That gave Jose Urquidy a lead to work with, which came in handy as former Astro Jack Mayfield cut the lead to two runs with a leadoff solo homer in the bottom of the second. Other than that, Urquidy did well through five innings, allowing just two other hits over that span. LA got to him in the sixth, getting two singles to set up a three-run homer to end his night. His final line: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 79 P.

The runs keep coming

He would still leave in line for the win, though, as before that bottom of the sixth, the Astros had put up seven more runs across the fifth and sixth. A leadoff walk in the top of the fifth was followed by a two-run homer by Jose Altuve, then later in the frame, an RBI single by Aledmys Diaz made it 7-1. They pushed that to double digits in the sixth, with a leadoff solo shot by Martin Maldonado, a sac fly by Carlos Correa, and an RBI groundout by Kyle Tucker, putting them up 10-1 before the homer allowed by Urquidy cut that to 10-4.

Astros win to reduce magic number again

In the sixth, Cristian Javier took over for Urquidy, finished that inning, and returned for a scoreless seventh. He ran into Shohei Ohtani to lead off the bottom of the eighth and left a fastball in the zone, which Ohtani turned around 445 feet to make it a five-run game. Javier still got through the inning, leaving just the ninth for Houston's second reliever of the night, Josh James. James would get through a scoreless inning, erasing a leadoff walk as the lopsided win paired with an A's loss reduces Houston's magic number to 4.

Up Next: The third of this four-game series will be another 8:38 PM Central start on Wednesday. Janson Junk (0-1, 2.25 ERA) will make his third career start for the Angels, while Luis Garcia (11-7, 3.37 ERA) will have the ball for the Astros.

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