HIGHLY MOTIVATED can take the Kentucky Derby.
He had a right ding-dong with hot favourite Essential Quality in the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland and there was just a neck between them at the line.
So it’s a bit surprising to see my fancy trading at around 10-1, five times the price of a horse that had a real job getting the better of him.
He ran on strongly last time and stepping up a furlong is likely to bring improvement. His speed figures are among the best in the race and top trainer Chad Brown relies on just him so should be confident of a big run.
Favourite Essential Quality is bidding to give Godolphin their first win in this great race and it’s hard to believe that the Boys In Blue haven’t had so much as a place before.
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He comes here unbeaten in five lifetime starts and he looked as though the longer trip would be ideal when scrapping it out at Keeneland.
His class was evident when taking the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last season and he has winning form at Churchill Downs.
He’s the right horse to head the betting but 2-1 in a 20-runner field on a tight track by our standards makes little appeal.
Rock Your World has some fancy form on turf and switched to dirt when taking the Santa Anita Derby by an impressive four lengths earlier this month.
He led from the gate there and just pulled out more and more. That early speed could be a major asset to stay out of trouble and he shapes like a stayer.
This is just his fourth run so there should be more to come.
Looking at the bigger prices, Medina Spirit looks a solid each-way bet. I’ll be splitting my stakes on him and Highly Motivated at the prices.
Bob Baffert’s hope was second in the Santa Anita Derby last time when not getting the best of runs out wide.
He is another with lots of early speed and that’s a major factor in a big field as it can be hard to come from out the back.
His times have been good and he shapes as though stepping up in distance will be the making of him.
KENTUCKY DERBY 1-2-3
- Highly Motivated
- Rock Your World
- Medina Spirit
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