Poets on Sports

Kentucky Derby 2015: Who To Pick if You Don’t Know Jack Shit About Horses

by Karissa Morton


You guys, it’s Derby Day! My favorite two minutes of the year are rapidly approaching, so let’s jump right in!

Every year, I have a sentimental pick–always the horse with the most female connections. First, I look for fillies. Only 38 have ever started, & only three have won: Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980) & Winning Colors (1988). There aren’t any fillies in this race, so then I go to female jockeys. No female jockey has ever won the Derby, & since my favorite jockey, Rosie Napravnik, retired last year, there aren’t even any in the field to choose from. (Side note: THIS FACT SUCKS.) So let’s movBoloe on to trainers. There’s one horse in this year’s field saddled by a woman: Bolo, trained by Carla Gaines.

It’s apparent from interviews with her that she’s got a real passion for this sport, & she’s also outspoken about the fact that there’s still a lot of room for improvement in terms of women’s place in the industry, calling women “the backbone of the stable.” Basically I love her.

So.  If you don’t really give a shit about the race, but want to root for the most feminist pick: Bolo.


Dortmund The odds say this is a battle between American Pharaoh & Dortmund (both Bob Baffert horses). If you’re a favorite-picker, I’d put money on Dortmund over American Pharaoh–the latter doesn’t have have Turn-To in his pedigree, & 17 of the last 20 Derby winners have. Maybe that’s superstitious, but it’s hard to overlook, IMO.

Realistically, this one’s pretty close to a toss-up, so if you want to play tight with your money, either one’s a good bet.

If you want to make a pick between the odds-on favorites:  Dortmund.


Carpe DiemMoving on to possible upsets… Carpe Diem has good odds–currently sitting at 7-1 (which is an increase from last night). Why I like him: he’s a 4-1 Todd Pletcher horse & he has two Grade I victories–including Blue Grass earlier this month. His only losing race was a second place finish was to a horse who’s not in the Derby field. Pedigree says to be wary of him, though, because he’s got Storm Cat in his lineage & his progeny are 0-44 in the Derby. (Ouch.)

If you’re looking for a relatively safe upsetCarpe Diem.


A riskier upset pick is Danzig Moon. Why I like him: 1. His name is Danzig Moon.  2. He looks like Batman when he races:

Danzig Moon

Pedigree-wise, he avoids Storm Cat & hits Turn-To, & he finished second (to Carpe Diem) at Blue Grass. For the Derby, he drew a good fifth post position (fourth most likely position to win from–9.6%). Bob Schless says he has the kind of running style that’ll lead him to make his move around the turn & his strong pedigree will allow him to continually move up prior to that. A horse who can break around the turn is what you want to see on the screen today. The problem is that he just doesn’t have a winning history. Pair this with the fact that his attitude has led him to be described as the “bad boy” of the field–super aggressive &, well, mean–& you’ve got a risk. (Or this could turn into a brawl–Danzig Moon just goes up & starts kicking the shit out of everybody…) Pedigree & his extremely important Blue Grass finish make him appealing, but he’s still a tricky pick.

If you’re looking for a risky upset that’s hitting at the right time & just might pay off: Danzig Moon.


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This entry was posted on May 2, 2015 by and tagged , , , , , , , , , .


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