Who Do You Like? Our Man Puts Value on Normandy Invasion

by Chris Baughman
LouisvilleKY.com Handicapping expert

Best Value -- Normandy Invasion
Best Value — Normandy Invasion

When Calvin Borel guided Mine That Bird to victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, the race was changed forever.  Today at Churchill Downs we will see several long shots who would not be entered in the distant past, but will take their chances and hope to repeat the success of Mine That Bird.   However many of them appear hopelessly over-matched.  With that in mind, here a four Horses who appear to be over-matched in this years Derby:

Giant Finish appears completely outclassed.  His two wins have come in races restricted to New York bred Horses, and his trainer Tony Dutrow said he was pointing the Horse to an allowance race when the owners made the call to send the Horse to the Derby.  A giant finish appears unlikely.

Falling Sky has shown good early speed in his races, however when the stretch run comes he has been going the wrong direction.  Stretching out to 1 ¼ miles against the best field he has ever faced is not a recipe for success.

Golden Soul has run well in his races and worked himself into contention by the middle of the stretch repeatedly, but has failed to show a strong kick in the final 1/8 of a mile.  There is no reason to think that will change against this field.

Lines of Battle comes into the race having run in just one race this year, the UAE Derby, a race in which the final time was ridiculously slow, partially as the result of a slow pace.  He has never run on the dirt and has chosen an awfully tough to race to get dirt experience.

Morning line favorites Orb, Verrazano, and Goldencents have obvious credentials and it would not be surprising to see any of these Horses win the 2013 Kentucky Derby.  Looking for value, here are some other contenders who could wear the roses.

Normandy Invasion finished a strong second in the Wood Memorial despite trying to close into a slow pace that favored the speedy Verrazano.  In his prior start at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, he went to his nose at the start then circled the field from last only to come up 1 ½ lengths short.  With a clean trip and legitimate pace he has a great chance in the Derby.

Revolutionary is on a three race win streak and has gotten better as the races have gone farther.  The team of jockey Calvin Borel, trainer Todd Pletcher, and owner WinStar farm won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver.

Java’s War will most likely be coming from dead last, but if a hot pace develops he may be up to the task.  In his most recent start he came from last to win the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland, but his start before that in the Tampa Bay Derby may have been even more impressive, as he was gaining on Verrazano in the stretch.

Oxbow has a pedigree that suggests he will really like a muddy track.  He has been caught wide in his last several races and good racing luck has seemed to elude him.  If he puts it all together in the Derby he could score at a huge price.

Putting it all together, Normandy Invasion is the value play in this year’s Kentucky Derby.