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Kentucky Derby Contenders: Verrazano

Kentucky Derby contenders are settling into Churchill Downs with their trainers and it looks like undefeated Verrazano will be the morning line favorite.

Why is the son of More Than Ready the top betting pick? Who are behind him in the Kentucky Derby odds menu as horse racing's biggest race gets set? Check out information on the top Derby hopefuls below:

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Verrazano: Perhaps trainer Todd Pletcher's best shot of picking up his second Derby win. The trainer won the 2010 running with Super Saver ($18.00). The colt has been the early betting favorite in the Derby future pools, closing at 7-1 in Pool 3.

His final prep was a win in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 6. Wood winners have been unlucky in recent years. I Want Revenge (2009), Eskendereya (2010) and Toby’s Corner (2011) each came up with injuries after their Wood wins and missed the Run for the Roses. The last Wood winner to win the Derby was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. [ Bet on Verrazano now at USRacebook.com ]

Orb: The Shug McGaughey trainee won the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby (G1) in impressive style in his two stakes races and figures to be one of the top three wagering choices on Derby Day.

An off the pace type with a long-winded pedigree, this colt appears to be sitting on a good one on Derby Day. McGaughey’s best finish in the Derby is with Easy Goer, who ran second in 1989. [ Bet on Orb at Bovada ]

Goldencents: The colt rebounded off a subpar effort in the San Felipe (G2) with a game win in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his last outing. The colt is trained by Doug O’Neill, who won the 2012 Derby with I’ll Have Another.

The trainer used relatively unknown jockey and Derby rookie Mario Gutierrez last year and will give a leg up to another Derby first timer in Kevin Krigger this year. [ Bet on Goldencents at 5Dimes ]

Revolutionary: It took four tries for this Pletcher trainee to break his maiden, but he has come back and won two stakes, the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct and a victory in the Louisiana Derby (G2) where he held off Mylute by a neck. 

The colt is out of the stakes winner Runup the Colors, who won the Alabama (G1) and is by A.P. Indy, giving this guy enough pedigree to handle 1 ¼ miles. Pletcher is 1 for 33 with Derby starters.

Normandy Invasion: The colt is winless in two starts this year, but does appear to have as much upside as any in the Derby field. The colt had a tough trip in a fifth place finish in the Risen Star (G2) where he was off a beat slow and raced wide. He was only beaten 1 ½ lengths for the top spot.

Last out in the Wood he was only beaten ¾ of a length by Verrazano, who is going to be the betting favorite on Derby Day. The colt is trained by former Bobby Frankel assistant Chad Brown.

Itsmyluckyday: The colt is one of just two Derby contenders that have run two triple digit Beyer Speed Figures. The colt earned those figs winning the Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G2). The colt was no match for Orb in his last outing in the Florida Derby.

His main knock is his pedigree is not suited to get 1 ¼ miles on the first Saturday of May.

Governor Charlie: The colt is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has won the Derby three times, last in 2002 with War Emblem. The colt was a sharp winner of the Sunland Derby (G3) in his first start against winners.

The colt did not makes his debut until Jan. 19 of this year, and the last horse that won the Derby that did not race as a juvenile was Apollo in 1882.

Java’s War: The Ken McPeek trainee went from last to first with a strong late rally to win the Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland last out over polytrack. Two back he ran a decent third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), beaten three lengths by Verrazano.

The colt is a stakes winner on turf and polytrack, but is 0 for 2 on dirt surfaces including a sixth place finish over the Churchill Downs main track in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) as a juvenile last fall.