Like the race for the NBA title this season, the competition for the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby is wide open. And while it’s not the most important sporting event relating the upper Southeast region of the United States - that would be Game Three of Memphis Grizzles vs. Golden State Warriors - it’s still a nice way to pass the time between NBA games, whether you’re a horse lover, a compulsive gambler, or just like seeing little people whipping large animals.
And there’s similarities between the race and the series. The Warriors, like the field of jockeys, often thrive with a small lineup. In terms of NBA experience, Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke are both three-year-olds, just like the racers. Sometimes the competitors rely on performance-enhancing substances. For last year’s disgraced winner, Medina Spirit, it was a steroid called betamethasone. For Steph Curry, it’s buttered popcorn. And as both Dillon Brooks and apparent 2019 winner Maximum Security learned, reckless shoving the other competitors will get you disqualified.
Zandon is the betting favorite, with odds of 3:1, a rising star who has come out of nowhere, racking up a ton of points in the past few months, but there’s questions about whether he can get it done in a big, physical field like this 20-horse Derby. Kind of sounds like Jordan Poole to me. Run some pick-and-rolls for Zandon, trainer Chad Brown! Next up is Epicenter, the Ja Morant of the field, as he’s got the best Speed Score and he’s known as a great finisher. His odds are 7:2, perhaps a tribute to Grizzlies legend Hasheem Thabeet’s height.
The third-highest odds belong to Messier, named after former NHL MVP Mark Messier, who is the Steph Curry of this race. Some people think these upstarts have surpassed Messier, but he’s still a very dangerous steed that the other horses will have to game plan around. Also we heard he owns a lot of cryptocurrency. Next is Mo Donegal, a talented horse who is only 10:1 because he drew the position nearest the rail - sort of like Jaren Jackson Jr. drawing Draymond Green in this series.
White Abarrio comes in at 10:1 due to concerns about stamina, which is also a concern with Klay Thompson at the end of games on defense. At publication time, we couldn’t find out how White Abarrio feels about boats. Taiba’s odds are 12:1, where bettors can’t decide whether the horse’s substantial athletic gifts can outweigh a lack of experience. He’s only been in two races, which is six fewer playoff contests than even Ziaire Williams.
Smile Happy (20:1) is Andrew Wiggins, because he’s getting Invisalign. Charge It (20:1) is Draymond, because he draws the most charges, and he also likes to buy expensive clothes. Simplification (20:1) is Jonathan Kuminga, because that’s what Steve Kerr is doing with the offense when he gets in the game, Crown Pride (20:1) is two-time NBA champion Kevon Looney, and Cyberknife (20:1) is Desmond Bane, because he can slice through defenses, and because he’s probably getting back surgery with a cyberknife after the season. Zozos (20:1) is Xavier Tillman because he’s also from the Midwest and they’ve both done very well in his limited starts.
As for the longshots, Happy Jack (30:1) is a cult favorite and we assume that’s a nickname for John, just like Konchar of the Grizzlies. Summer Is Tomorrow (30:1) is Steven Adams, since Taylor Jenkins may have him on vacation the rest of the playoffs. Tiz The Bomb (30:1) is Tyus Jones, because he likes to bomb from three-point range and if you sneeze when you say his first name it sounds like “Tiz.” Pioneer of Medina (30:1) is known as a “stalker,” which is also Brandon Clarke on the offensive glass. Barber Road (30:1) is Coach Taylor Jenkins - who may actually be trimming his beard at halftime. Nemanja Bjelica is like Classic Causeway (30:1) because he’s not that fast and he’s disappeared recently, Tawny Port (30:1) is also the name of a dessert wine, which feels like Juan Toscano-Anderson, since his dunks are sweet, and he usually only comes out after the main course is all over. Finally Rich Strike (30:1) is actually Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns, because he’s all about the Dick Strike.
Remember, this is not wagering advice and the author doesn’t know anything about horse racing, except that it’s a guarantee that today winner will be...unaware they’re competing.
Ethereal Road and Rattle N Roll scratched, so they’re the Gary Payton II and Andre Iguodala of this race. Ethereal Road is the GPII because his dad was a better racehorse than Rattle N Roll’s dad.