Picking a Kentucky Derby favorite is a lot like filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket in that you can spend hours analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of every horse only to fail miserably as your mom cashes a huge ticket because she "liked the name."
If you don't have any set method for picking a Kentucky Derby horse, then why not pick the one that represents your favorite Cardinal? Here's a guide:
1. Ocho, Ocho (50-1) - L.J. Scott
Had a big win in the Delta Downs Jackpot (Murray State game), but this probably isn't his year. Ocho, Ocho also drew the rail, which is like Scott walking into a loaded Cardinal backfield as a freshman.
2 Carpe Diem (8-1) - Terry Rozier
The final fractions from his win in the Bluegrass Stakes indicate that he wants to run farther (the NBA). He's a smooth stalker who sometimes has some issues getting out of the gate, but this is still a horse that would be a solid favorite in most other years.
3. Materiality (12-1) - Reggie Bonnafon
He's had some extremely impressive performances (Florida Derby/Notre Dame game), is one of the fastest horses in the field, and has a great pedigree. But much like Bonnafon not playing quarterback until his senior year of high school, Materiality didn't run a single race as a 2-year-old. The only horse to win with that bullet on its resume was Apollo in 1882.
4. Tencendur (30-1) - Keith Towbridge
Seems to be improving, always pretty solid, but doesn't shine as brightly as the other stars surrounding him so he never gets much love.
5. Danzig Moon (30-1) - Quentin Snider
Had a lot of buzz early in this racing year before a distant fourth place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby. He then got another shot and made the most of it by finishing second to Carpe Diem in the Blue Grass. He's rapidly improving, and his speed figures put him within striking distance of the top tier of 3-year-olds.
6. Mubtaahij (20-1) - Damion Lee
Has an extreme amount of hype after dominating at a lower level of the sport, but is making a massive step up in competition.
7. El Kabeir (30-1) - Eli Rogers
He's remarkably consistent and pretty fast, just not as fast as some of the horses surrounding him. He made a name for himself early on by winning the Gotham (dominating at Miami Northwestern), but Secretariat (Teddy Bridgewater) is the only Gotham winner to go on to wear the roses.
8. Dortmund (3-1) - Montrezl Harrell
He's massive, he's intimidating, and he hasn't lost. Traffic (clutter in the lane) might be the only thing that can stop him.
9. Bolo (30-1) - Anas Mahmoud
He's making the move from grass to dirt (overseas to America), but that's been a recipe for success in some recent Derbies.
10. Firing Line (12-1) - Kyle Bolin
Has showed the potential to be "the dude" in this race by nearly beating Dortmund before setting a track record in the Sunland Derby. Still, the track was ridiculously fast that day (Kentucky's defense was awful), and there are a few questions about his ability to go the distance here.
11. International Star (20-1) - James Quick
Undersized, but extremely athletic and full of potential. He's 3-for-3 with jockey Miguel Mena and enters Saturday in the best form of his career.
12. Itsaknockout (30-1) - Mangok Mathiang
He's got a style that seems to fit well with this race, and if you throw out the Florida Derby he's 3-for-3. Of course when you look at the Florida Derby, he was beaten by 21 lengths. Basically, when he's bad, he's really bad.
13. Keen Ice (50-1) - Anton Gill
One big hit in seven starts (NC State game), but he lost his last five races by a combined 42 lengths.
14. Frosted (15-1) - David Levitch
Fan favorite, plus "Frosted" just screams Levitch.
15. War Story (50-1) - Keith Kelsey
He's extremely consistent, never finishing worse than third, but still remains something of an afterthought here.
16. Mr. Z (50-1) - Corvin Lamb
Most experienced horse in the field with 12 starts, but has just one win (Miami kick return TD), and a last place finish in the Louisiana Derby (injuries).
17. American Pharaoh (5-2) - DeVante Parker
As much as I want to make this Anas because of the name, Pharaoh has to be Parker. So talented, and seems to do what he does so effortlessly.
18. Upstart (15-1) - Wayne Blackshear
Great pedigree (grandson of two Belmont winners/5-star recruit), and probably isn't getting enough love leading up to this race. Hasn't run a bad race yet, but still gets overshadowed because he isn't Pharaoh or Dortmund.
19. Far Right (30-1) - Sutton Whiting
A little baseball love here. Far Right is undersized but doesn't mind mixing it up in traffic. He runs well at Churchill, but it's going to be hard for him to get to him comfort spot on the rail coming from so far outside.
20. Frammento (50-1) - Ryan McMahon
Late entry thanks to Stanford pulling out of the race. Probably doesn't have much of a shot coming from the far outside, but has reportedly been training well and seems to have a solid future.