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Kentucky Derby horses as Louisville Cardinals

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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:

Nyquist - Lamar Jackson (Football)

The unquestioned favorite is undeniably talented is not as much of a sure thing as the past three years. Nyquist is loaded with talent and has a trainer who has proven he's capable of winning the big race, but doubters are still curious to see how he performs on the biggest of stages.

Lani - Mangok Mathiang (Basketball)

Like Mangok, the Japan-born Lani had been all over the world before arriving in the Derby City. Lani's unorthodox training style where he gallops two or three miles a day likely makes him the most in-shape horse in the field, but that doesn't mean he's a perfect fit for this race. As is the case with Mangok entering his senior season, Lani is going to have to improve dramatically in some areas where he hasn't seemed comfortable if he wants to star on Saturday.

Tom's Ready - Tom Jurich (Athletic Director)

I mean ... no-brainer. In addition to the "Tom" thing, they're both likely to make you money.

Gun Runner - Quentin Snider (Basketball)

A little bit overlooked because of the some of the flash around them, both Gun Runner and Snider have improved steadily with every race (or season) and it wouldn't be a shock for either to breakout in a major way in 2016. Like Snider, Gun Runner is bred for endurance but his pure speed has been called into question by detractors.

Exaggerator - Brendan McKay (Baseball)

Like McKay, who won the John Olerud Award for being the nation's best two-way player last season, Exaggerator has proven that he can beat you in a variety of different ways. He can win after setting the pace, he can win coming from the back of the pack, he can win in ideal situations, and he can win in the slop.

Mor Spirit - Kelsi Worrell (Swimming)

Neither ever seems to have a bad race, with Mor Spirit never having finished worse than second in seven starts. This could be a monster summer for both.

Danzig Candy - Cornelius Sturghill (Football)

Danzig Candy is likely the fastest horse in this year's field, while Sturghill, who ran a ridiculous 4.20 40-yard dash this spring, is the fastest player on Louisville's football team. Speed isn't everything though. DC moved too early in the Santa Anita Derby and wound up finishing fourth, a trend which could continue Saturday in a race that features a fair amount of talented speed. Likewise, Sturghill will be competing for playing time this spring at a cornerback position that is loaded with talented and experienced players.

Outwork - David Levitch (Basketball)

A pair of athletes who get it done when you don't expect them to. Outwork won the Wood Memorial in thick slop, Levitch came off the bench to bury the biggest treys of the game in Louisville's win at Pittsburgh.

Oscar Nominated - Damion Lee (Basketball)

There were signs that Lee could make a seamless transition from the Colonial Athletic Association to the ACC, just as there were signs that Oscar Nominated could be as successful on dirt as he was on turf. Now the horse just needs to prove it in the same fashion that his human counterpart did.

Mohaymen - Corey Ray (Baseball)

Not getting enough love because he doesn't come from one of the sport's most well-known stables (or in Ray's case because he plays baseball), but might be the best overall talent in this field.

Brody's Cause - Myisha Hines-Allen (Basketball)

Like Hines-Allen, Brody's Cause is at his best when he's in Louisville. Both have strong pedigrees and a list of accomplishments (ACC Player of the Year/Tampa Bay Derby winner) that show they're worthy of being supported with your wallet.

Creator - Rick Pitino (Basketball)


A version of this column appears in the current issue of The Voice-Tribune