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At the Gate - Thursday

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We are just two days away from the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, and 21 three-year-olds were entered on Wednesday afternoon.
 
Only 20 will start, with Fear the Kitten (50-1) sitting on the also-eligible list and will only make it into the starting gate if one of the other runners is scratched before 9:00am on Friday.
 
The post position draw was rather uneventful, with the biggest surprise being who turned out to be the morning line favorite.
 
Verrazano has been the early Derby favorite for months, the lowest price among the individual runners in each of the three Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pools, sitting at 7-1 in Pool 3 which closed on March 22.
 
In offshore betting the undefeated Todd Pletcher trainee has been as low at 7-2, and is currently 4-1 at Bovada.
 
His win in the Wood Memorial (G1) on April 6 was not as dazzling as many had hoped, the colt beating Normandy Invasion by ¾ of a length.
 
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Most published handicappers and writers seem to be looking elsewhere, and the backstretch at Churchill Downs has been abuzz with talk of Florida Derby (G1) winner Orb.
 
The Shug McGaughey trainee was installed as the 7-2 morning line favorite by Churchill Downs linesmaker Mike Battaglia.
 
Battaglia had said that Verrazano was going to be the morning line favorite up until just a day ago.
 
Third choice on the morning line is Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Goldencents, who is trained by Doug O’Neill, who saddled last year’s Derby winner I’ll Have Another.
 
I think Battaglia’s morning line is a bit off. I do think Orb will be the slight favorite, but will more likely be around 9-2, while Verrazano is going to be at 5-1.
 
Revolutionary, who is 10-1 on the morning line is likely going to get more action and figures to be somewhere between 6-1 and 8-1, and I think Goldencents’s price will drift up from the 5-1 morning line, likely in the 6-1 or 7-1 range.
 
I can’t seem to find any public handicapper that likes Verrazano, and while I won’t have my Derby Report done until this afternoon, I can tell you the colt will not be my top pick either.
 
It will be very interesting to see what price he ends up.
 
Another race I am looking forward to on Saturday is the $500,000 Woodward Reserve Turf Classic (G1). The 2012 Horse of the Year Wise Dan (6-5) takes on Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) runner up Point of Entry (7-5).
 
Wise Dan won five of his six starts last year including four consecutive Grade 1 races. Point of Entry won five of seven starts and a trio of Grade 1 races.
 
I will have my full Kentucky Derby Report available by Friday morning at the latest. Friday’s Oaks Report is now available.
 
I skipped Thursday’s Belmont Park card in order to spend extra time on the Oaks card, which is a solid 12-race betting card that features six stakes. I will preview the Oaks in tomorrow’s column.
 
The 139th Kentucky Derby Field
 
Post    Horse     ML
1 Black Onyx   50-1  
2 Oxbow   30-1
3 Revolutionary    10-1
4 Golden Soul   50-1
5 Normandy Invasion   12-1
6 Mylute    15-1
7 Giant Finish   50-1
8 Goldencents   5-1
9 Overanalyze    15-1
10 Palace Malice   20-1
11 Lines of Battle   30-1
12 Itsmyluckyday   15-1
13 Falling Sky    50-1
14 Verrazano   4-1
15 Charming Kitten   20-1
16 Orb   7-2
17 Will Take Charge   20-1
18 Frac Daddy   50-1
19 Java's War   15-1
20 Vyjack   15-1
21 Fear the Kitten   50-1
 
Click here to purchase my full card report for Churchill Downs for Friday.
 
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Mike covers the New York racing circuit (Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga) year round as well as Keeneland, Churchill Downs, the Triple Crown, and the Breeders’ Cup.
Last Year Mike had a solid Triple Crown, correctly picking the winning horse in 2 of 3 races. He selected I'll Have another to win The Preakness, and nailed Union Rags to win the Belmont Stakes as his top pick.

Mike has also had past succes in the Kentucky Derby,  winning with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and rode his top picks, Super Saver and Street Sense, to the finish line in 2010 and 2007 respectively.

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