The Kentucky Derby is hours away and the only horse you can name is Mr. Ed. Donâ€™t worry. ThePostGame.com caught up with Eric Mitchell, editorial director for The Blood-Horse, to get us all up to speed on the most exciting two minutes in sports.
TPG: What's the best story this year?
Mitchell: I would say Mucho Macho Man (pictured). Heâ€™s trained by Kathy Ritvo, who in 2008 got a heart transplant. Her brother had the same condition she did and died waiting for a heart transplant. She got her new heart and a new life, November of 2008, five months after Mucho Macho Man was born. He was actually born in the field, and they thought he was dead. He wasnâ€™t moving at all. They started working on him and the horse jumped up and ran away. Now here they are in the Derby together. And their chances are very good. He won the Risen Star Stakes and finished a good third in the Louisiana Derby. Heâ€™s at 12-1 odds to win.
TPG: Who's the favorite?
Mitchell: Dialed In. Heâ€™s 4 to 1 and likely to go a bit higher. Heâ€™s trained by Nick Zito, who had the second-place horse last year. But I will say this year is tougher than most to pick. There are a lot of horses in the field that have been beating up on each other. This year is very even. You hear a lot of, â€śI canâ€™t separate half the field.â€ť
TPG: Well, maybe thereâ€™s a horse that looks different than the others? How about a filly? Do we have a filly?
Mitchell: No fillies this year. Got a lot of dark bays, a lot of browns. We do have a gray named Twinspired. His odds are 30-1, and heâ€™s ridden by Mike Smith, the jockey of Zenyatta and Giacomo, who won the 2005 Derby. Twinspired is your hunch bet because of the twin spires of Churchill Downs, but he's run primarily on synthetic surfaces, so thatâ€™s a possible drawback.
TPG: Where's Calvin Borel? He's won three of the last four Derbies.
Mitchell: He didnâ€™t have a mount until about a week ago. Everyone already had arrangements. But heâ€™ll be on Twice The Appeal. The oddsmaker said the horse would be 30-1 but heâ€™s up to 20-1 because Calvinâ€™s his jockey.
TPG: Got a hunch about any long shots?
Mitchell: The horse that intrigues me is Stay Thirsty.
TPG: The most interesting horse in the world!
Mitchell: His sire is Bernardini, whose first crop is three years old this year. Since 2001, there have been four Derby winners who were out of their siresâ€™ first crops. Monarchos, Funny Cide, Street Sense, and Mine That Bird were first-crop horses.
TPG: So who wins?
Mitchell: I think Archarcharch will win. This is a horse that's been overlooked. He's a very strong closer. Heâ€™s in the 1 post, which is not ideal, so he's 10-1. But he ran a great race at the Arkansas Derby, which has been a good path to the Derby. And he's got a good story too. Heâ€™s ridden by Jon Court, who has been a jockey for 30 years and raced all over the world but this is his first Derby at age 50. People aren't going to like the 1 post, but I think he'll be right there at the end. It's gonna be a great race.