05/01/2013 5:01PM

Kentucky Derby: Orb favorite from post 16; Verrazano to break from 14

Barbara D. Livingston
Florida Derby winner Orb, above, was made the 7-2 morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby over the undefeated Verrazano.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Florida Derby winner Orb drew post 16 and was pegged as the 7-2 morning-line favorite as the field for the 139th Kentucky Derby was finalized Wednesday evening at Churchill Downs.

As expected, an overflow field of 21 horses was entered for the Grade 1, $2 million Kentucky Derby, which is limited to 20 starters. This year, Churchill Downs implemented a system tallying points in designated races as the tiebreaker if more than 20 enter, scrapping the previous system based on graded stakes earnings. Giant Finish, who was declared as a starter on Tuesday, was the final horse into the main body of the field with 10 points, leapfrogging Fear the Kitten, who has only six points. Last year, Churchill Downs re-instated an also-eligible list allowing up to four horses; Fear the Kitten may run if there are any withdrawals from the main body of the field by scratch time, 9 a.m. Friday.

Many ceded Derby favoritism to Verrazano after the colt remained unbeaten with a victory in the Wood Memorial on April 6. However, support for Orb steadily grew in the week leading up to the race, reaching a fever pitch when the colt turned in an impressive final workout Monday morning at Churchill Downs, cruising four furlongs in 47.89 seconds. Verrazano, who landed post 14 for the Derby, was tabbed as the 4-1 second choice by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia.

:: KENTUCKY DERBY: Live coverage, post positions, and video

Orb's trainer Shug McGaughey said Wednesday morning that he would relish the role as race favorite because it would be a reflection of his colt's credentials in such a deep field.

"I'd love to be the favorite, because whoever's the favorite is going to have something under his name that makes him the favorite," McGaughey said.

The draw unfolded to McGaughey's hopes, as he said Wednesday morning that he would prefer for his colt to be away from the inside of the starting gate. However, he noted that Orb's tactical versatility could help him adjust as the Derby unfolds.

"I think he can [adjust]," McGaughey said. "We drew the one post going a mile and a sixteenth in the Fountain of Youth, and we were able to do something about that. And then we got no pace in the Florida Derby, and he was able to lay up close, within three or four lengths of them that day. So yeah, I think he can do what we want."

Orb, a homebred for Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable, was ridden by John Velazquez to win both the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby. However, with Velazquez previously committed to ride Verrazano, the red-hot Joel Rosario, who broke records while taking the riding title at the recently-concluded Keeneland Race Course spring meet, gets back aboard Orb Saturday. He partnered the Malibu Moon colt to two earlier wins.

The luck of the draw was with Verrazano, as the colt's name was one of just four remaining to be drawn with the dreaded rail post position in the bulky field still open. After he landed in post 14, the rail eventually went to Grade 3 Spiral Stakes winner Black Onyx, while the extreme outside post 20, which has produced just two winners since 1900, went to multiple graded stakes winner Vyjack.

Verrazano heads a record-tying quintet of Kentucky Derby entrants for trainer Todd Pletcher, who will also saddle Arkansas Derby winner Overanalyze; Louisiana Derby winner Revolutionary; and Blue Grass Stakes second and third-place finishers Palace Malice and Charming Kitten. Pletcher also saddled five Kentucky Derby starters in 2007, making him the third trainer to do so.

Post time for the Derby, which is preceded by five other graded stakes races, is 6:24 p.m. Eastern. It will be shown live on an NBC broadcast that begins at 4 p.m.

Kentucky Derby
Purse: $2 million; 1 1/4 miles; Grade 1
PP, Horse, Jockey, morning-line odds

1. Black Onyx, J. Bravo, 50-1
2. Oxbow, G. Stevens, 30-1
3. Revolutionary, C. Borel, 10-1
4. Golden Soul, R. Albarado, 50-1
5. Normandy Invasion, J. Castellano, 12-1
6. Mylute, R. Napravnik, 15-1
7. Giant Finish, J. Espinoza, 50-1
8. Goldencents, K. Krigger, 5-1
9. Overanalyze, R. Bejarano, 15-1
10. Palace Malice, M. Smith, 20-1
11. Lines of Battle, R. Moore, 30-1
12. Itsmyluckyday, E. Trujillo, 15-1
13. Falling Sky, L. Saez, 50-1
14. Verrazano, J. Velazquez, 4-1
15. Charming Kitten, E. Prado, 20-1
16. Orb, J. Rosario, 7-2
17. Will Take Charge, J. Court, 20-1
18. Frac Daddy, V. Lebron, 50-1
19. Java's War, J. Leparoux, 15-1
20. Vyjack, G. Gomez, 15-1
21. Fear the Kitten, A. Garcia, N/A
Track odds
Post time: Saturday, 6:24 p.m. Eastern
All starters carry 126 pounds
Television: NBC, 4-7 p.m.