Kentucky Derby Top 10: Tiz the Law favored to wear the roses

September 1st, 2020

Keeler Johnson shares his weekly list of Top 10 contenders for the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1).

1. Tiz the Law

With the defection of probable second choice Art Collector because of a minor hoof injury, Tiz the Law has been installed as the 3-5 morning-line favorite. If these odds hold up, he’ll be the shortest-priced Derby favorite since Spectacular Bid in 1979.

Such respect is warranted — Tiz the Law’s final workout was a sight to behold, so with his tactical speed and strong finishing kick, he is going to be tough to beat under the Twin Spires.

2. Honor A. P.

Just like I hoped, Honor A. P. has been training up a storm since his defeat in the Shared Belief S.

He has cranked out a series of four workouts, culminating with 7 furlongs in a stamina-building 1:27.20. He galloped out a mile in 1:40.80, so with this big move under his belt, Honor A. P. should take a big step forward at Churchill Downs.

3. Authentic

With Art Collector and Shirl’s Speight out of the mix, there is substantially less early speed entered in the Kentucky Derby, which should play to the strength of Authentic.

The frontrunning Haskell (G1) winner is questionable at 1 1/4 miles, but now there is a better chance he will shake loose on an uncontested lead.

4. Enforceable

In both the Risen Star (G2) and the Blue Grass (G2), Enforceable managed to sprint home the final 3 furlongs in less than :38 seconds, which indicates this stretch-running colt has a deceptively strong turn of foot.

He wasn’t fully cranked for the Blue Grass off a 3 1/2-month layoff, but he fought on well to finish fourth and should be sharper for the Derby.

5. Thousand Words

Although Thousand Words won the Shared Belief in gate-to-wire fashion, I don’t expect him to employ similar tactics in the Kentucky Derby. With stablemate Authentic a pure frontrunner, Thousand Words figures to settle off the early speed, as he did when he rallied to victory in the Robert B. Lewis (G3).

A grinder whose four wins have come by a combined 2 1/4 lengths, Thousand Words will hope to stay on strongly down the stretch and pick up the pieces as others weaken.

6. King Guillermo

How much speed will King Guillermo display off a four-month layoff? Although his best efforts have come with pressing or stalking trips, he has posted fast workouts since the beginning of July and figures to come out running at Churchill Downs.

If King Guillermo presses Authentic aggressively — or seizes the early lead — the complexion of the Derby could quickly intensify.

7. Ny Traffic

Though he has been reluctant to pass horses, Ny Traffic races up to his competition, which suggests this durable gray colt might have a bigger engine under the hood than we realize.

His narrow defeat in the Haskell was a step in the right direction.

8. Max Player

A barn switch and a jockey change are new factors in play for Max Player, but this consistent colt figures to produce the same, solid effort as always.

Late-running third-place efforts in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers (G1) suggest Max Player is capable of a rally to hit the board in the Kentucky Derby, even if victory will be a tough task.

9. Sole Volante

The stretch-running Sam F. Davis (G3) winner possesses a sharp turn of foot on his best day. He never fired in the Belmont, where he passed tired horses to finish sixth, but with his turf-oriented pedigree, he should be a better fit for Churchill Downs than sandy Belmont Park.

He has been training strongly over the dirt and turf courses at Palm Meadows and should arrive fresh for an improved effort in the Kentucky Derby.

10. Finnick the Fierce

He’ll be a longshot in the wagering, but Finnick the Fierce has already run well at Churchill Downs, where he rallied over a sloppy track to finish second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) last fall.

As one of just two horses to ever defeat Tiz the Law, Finnick the Fierce isn’t out of contention for a spot in the Kentucky Derby superfecta, particularly if the pace is fast.