04/28/2011 1:17PM

Kentucky Derby questions: Live longshots


Which horses are live longshots, and what should their approximate odds be?

Brad FreeTwinspired might be a pure synthetic-surface specialist − his only start on dirt was dismal − but his Polytrack runner-up finish in the Blue Grass at Keeneland cannot be entirely discounted. In a race dominated by closers, Twinspired pressed the pace, opened up in mid-stretch, and lost by a nose. He was the only front-runner to stay. The combination of unexpected speed and creditable finish signals improving form. Twinspired would be a tempting longshot at 15-1 or higher.

Twice the Appeal stamped his ticket by upsetting the Grade 3 Sunland Derby. While it might be unreasonable to expect a son of sprint stallion Successful Appeal to stay 1 1/4 miles, Twice the Appeal has legitimate attributes. He can rally from behind a fast pace and he is proven on dirt. His Sunland Derby was mildly flattered when runner-up Astrology returned to finish second in the Jerome. Twice the Appeal is likely to start at a 20-1 or higher, even with Calvin Borel aboard.

Marcus HershAnimal Kingdom has done little wrong in his four-race career, and his trainer, Graham Motion, is in the midst of a phenomenal run. Animal Kingdom stayed inside, handled the kickback, and finished strongly to win his nine-furlong prep race, looking much like a horse who will relish 1 1/4 miles. But since Animal Kingdom never has raced on dirt, his price will balloon accordingly. Odds of 25-1 in the win pool would be square enough.

Santiva finished ninth in his final prep, the Blue Grass, but had plenty of trouble and might be better on dirt than synthetic in any case. He has a strong win over the Churchill strip and figures to be ignored on Derby Day. He’s worth a look at 30-1 or higher.

Although not the most probable Derby winner, Santiva is appealing from a value perspective. A wide second to Mucho Macho Man in the Grade 2 Risen Star earlier in the year, he was unlucky in the Blue Grass, in which he was buried down on the inside without running room for much of the race. It seems best to draw a line through that race, especially since it came on Polytrack. His preference is for racing on dirt, as he showed in the Risen Star and in winning the Kentucky Jockey Club over the Churchill Downs strip last year. He is a worth a flyer if he starts at odds of 30-1 and up.

Like Santiva, Decisive Moment is worth considering at more than 30-1. An honest, consistent horse, he has settled in nicely at Churchill Downs, working a bullet half-mile in the mud in 47.40 seconds under the Twin Spires on April 17.

Longest shots to win

Year Horse Odds
1913 Donerail 91.45-1
2009 Mine That Bird 50.60-1
2005 Giacomo 50.30-1
1940 Gallahadion 35.20-1
1999 Charismatic 31.30-1
1967 Proud Clarion 30.10-1
1918 Exterminator 29.60-1
1953 Dark Star 24.90-1
1995 Thunder Gulch 24.50-1
1908 Stone Street 23.72-1

Next: Horses to bet against »

• After Uncle Mo's disappointing third in the Wood Memorial, does he deserve another chance?
• Which horses are live longshots, and what should their approximate odds be?
• Which horse can't you wait to bet against?
• Which horse hasn't won a prep race but can win the Derby?
• Not one of the most recent major prep races produced a winning Beyer Speed Figure of 100. How does that change the way you will handicap the Derby?
• Which prep race is most likely to be misinterpreted?
• Among the surprising prep race winners, which one is for real?
• Who is the horse to beat?