Claim this offer with TVG:
- Click on this link
- Click “Sign Me Up”
- Register and deposit $50
- Finally, bet on the Kentucky Derby & Get Up To $200 Back If Your Bet Loses
Our Take: The offer is great, but no one is loading up and making a bet just to not lose the money. It is time to WIN money and here are a couple thoughts that are important to remember when going to the window:
I’ll save you the time because the normal cheat sheet of “take a Bob Baffert horse” will (kind of) not work this year. Baffert, if you don’t usually follow horse racing, is the most prolific trainer perhaps in the history of the sport. He has been consistently suspected and accused of cheating through his time, and last year he won with Medina Spirit (for his seventh such win in the Derby) but was stripped for doping and he received a two-year ban from the event. Now, as any good alleged cheater would, he has sort of circumvented that by having two horses that started in his barn relocate and get trained by Tim Yakteen — a man who worked under Baffert for years. Which means if you still kinda sorta want to get in on a Baffert horse you can pick between Taiba and Messier.
If you are going down that route, Taiba may be the play between the two. The son of 2017 Horse of the Year, Gun Runner, did not make his debut until March 5 but ran two races and looked incredible winning the Santa Anita Derby. Now, you have to be willing to bet on sticking it to history because not since 1883 — and a horse named Leonatus — has a Derby runner claimed victory with only two races under its belt. The advantage here is that Yakteen saddled the least experienced horse with the most experienced jockey in 56 year-old, two-time Derby winner, Mike Smith. It is a nice trifecta: Baffert-adjacent horse, lineage and pedigree; with a great rider.
Understanding that bucking history could be hard to do for some folks we offer insights on three other horses for you to either consider or at least be able to talk about and impress your friend.
First, we are not getting sucked into the hype from Zandon. The horse has had a pretty impressive showing during workouts and moved to the favorite position with money coming in. That can not be smart money. Zandon prefers to work off the pace and make a late break which is a tough formula with this field and a risk we are going to avoid.
Second, we do not understand why Epicenter is not getting a lot more love in the early betting action. Epicenter has won four of its last five races — losing close in the only second place finish — and, oh by the way absolutely smoked Zandon on Feb. 19 at Louisiana’s Risen Star prep race. Epicenter is an absolute monster of a horse and with placement could have a free run from the gate, avoid traffic, and cruise to a win. It would break an 0-for-23 Derby record for Steve Asmussen. Steve Asmussen, you ask, who is he? Well… basically the anti-Baffert. Asmussen simply has really bad luck in the Derby and has never won the event despite being the all-time leader in wins for a trainer with nearly 9,700 races won from his stable. Epicenter is in good hands.
Third, if you really wanna just use this offer as a free flier bet then throw down on Crown Pride. It is a Japanese horse — which literally never run well at the Derby — but his trainers brought him to Churchill Downs in MARCH to get acclimated to the track, the layout, the stables, everything, trying to buck the trend of foreign horses being awful. Crown Pride has been pushed hard during the last couple of months, seeing more track time than any other horse, being opened up more than any other horse, and perhaps this acclimation time will offset history. This is true gambling because Asian races are not even close to as developed as American which mean Crown Pride smoking every competitor overseas is tough information to know what to do with. That said, the horse has been crushing it in training all week.
In summation, since we went way longer than normal: Epicenter is our favorite, and probably where this bettor is placing his money. Taiba is of interest and would be a good value. Crown Pride is straight gambling but would be fun to cash in on. Zandon has made a lot of noise this week but has lost races to horses in the field in some non-competitive ways, making us less interested in the noise surrounding him as results matter.