Trainer Dale Romans contends that 10 to 12 horses logically could win today's 137th Kentucky Derby, though he fervently hopes it's Shackleford, the colt he will saddle in the field of 19 at historic Churchill Downs.
“The other seven, even if they do win, won't be complete shocks other than maybe one or two,” Romans said.
The Derby inevitably is the year's most difficult race to predict, and this year's field appears particularly indecipherable. Horses, many lightly raced, are converging from Kentucky, Florida, New York, California, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico and even Ireland.
There are no stickouts. Dialed In and Archarcharch are the only horses who have won two stakes races this year. Compounding the handicapping complexities is the fact that Animal Kingdom, Twinspired, Master of Hounds, Brilliant Speed and Derby Kitten have never won on dirt.
Dialed In is the 4-1 morning-line favorite and probably also will be the bettors' choice, especially after the Friday morning announcement that 2-year-old champion Uncle Mo, the 9-2 second choice in the morning line, was scratched because of an internal ailment.