Sportsbetting3’s Kentucky Derby Early Preview

The Kentucky Derby goes Saturday, May 5, 2012 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky

There are just two major prep races before the Run for the Roses, the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland and the Arkansas Derby from Oak Lawn. Both races go on Saturday as horses scramble to make the graded earnings they’ll need to guarantee them a spot at Churchill Downs.

Last year’s Breeder’s Crown Juvenile winner Hansen makes his final tuneup in the Bluegrass facing Dullahan and Prospective among others. The beautiful grey son of Tapit is the prohibitive 6-5 morning line favorite and makes his first start since winning the March 3rd Gotham at Aquaduct. Horse Racing Nation offers solid analysis on this race.

The Arkansas derby has drawn a full field of 14 horses looking to sqeeze their way into the May 5th Derby. Bob Baffert trained Bodemeister is the 9/5 morning line favorite. Bodemeister will break from post 11 and ridden by Mike Smith. Baffert also has 5/2 second choice Secret Circle who will leave from the five hole. Najjar from the inside three with ground saving extraordinaire Calvin Borel merits consideration and #9 Sabrecat figures to run better than he did in the Rebel.

Here is Sportsbetting3’s Top Five Contenders for 2012 Kentucky Derby plus some maybes

#1: Hansen: A solid tuneup in the Bluegrass is all this horse needs to be the one to beat. Tactical speed and especially front running speed is so important in the Derby. BCJ winners don’t have a good history in their Kentucky Derby follow ups but this looks like a special horse.

Hansen wins the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

#2 Union Rags: This horse either unlucky or just has a propensity for getting into trouble. Watch the videos of the Juvie and Florida Derby and you’ll see that this could be any kind of a horse with a decent trip. Don’t put much into the Florida Derby performance as the horse had a horrific ride. See for yourself.

#3 Gemololist: Unbeaten in five starts, this horse has done nothing wrong. We’ve read in more than place that he is reminiscent of his sire Tiznow in that loafs on the front before switch gears and putting people away.

#4 Creative Cause: With seven races under his belt, this horse has the best foundation of the Derby Contenders. Never back of third, this is a horse that could be ready to pop. Third in the Junenile and a game second in the Santa Anita Derby, we may could have a “gray” exacta in the Kentucky Derby.

#5 Alpha: Love this horse, do what you want to him and he keeps on trying. Throw out bad BCJ (11th) and he has improved every time out. This son of Bernadini is bred to go.

Others to think about

#6 Take Charge Indy: Sons of AP Indy seem to improve with every start in the spring/summers of their 3YO campaigns. Main question is how does this horse run without getting an uncontested lead.

#7 Dullahan: The son of Even the Score is a stone cold closer that is set up perfectly by all the early speed in the Bluegrass. It will be interesting to see how he fares against Hansen on Saturday.

#8 Daddy Long Legs: Raced in the BCJ and won in Dubai but Derby winners just haven’t taken that route. We’ll see.

#9: Secret Circle: Has great numbers but there is a question of whether this horse can stretch it out to a mile and a quarter. A big performance in Arkansas will elevate him here.

#10: Mark Valeski: This horse is not the fastest or most talented one in the bunch but he’s brave and dead game. There is a lot to be said for that. This is the kind of horse that can pick up the pieces in race where things don’t go right for the top five.