Expert Kentucky Derby Picks for 2012

The Fastest Two Minutes In Sports” is set to run on Saturday, May 5, with coverage on NBC Sports starting at 11:00 a.m. ET. The race itself will also be shown on NBC beginning at 5:00 p.m. ET.

We’ve given you our payout long shot picks, and then provided you with the safer but still lucrative mid runners wagering hopefuls. Now we’re going to get right into the thick of things, providing you with more of our pony prognostications.

Except this time we discuss the horses that are actually expected to put in a good showing in this year’s 138th running of the Kentucky Derby.

The most epic quest of man and beast working together to win the Holy Grail of Horse Racing. The “Run for the Roses” has become the Baja 1000 of the animal kingdom.

While every horse that lines up in the starting gate on Derby Day is a potential victor, no matter what the odds. A winner has come from this group in four out of the last six years.

It is not hard to imagine it happening again.

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There are many horses, trainers, and jockeys with aspirations of a Triple Crown. The ones most likely to be able to accomplish that feat in 2012, are going to be on this list.

Bodemeister 9:2 – This is one of the two co-favorites in this year’s field. And it’s no wonder when you look at this contender’s trainer, Bob Baffert who has won three Kentucky Derby’s in the past, the last time back in 2002 on War Emblem. He has also won the Preakness stakes a record tying five times and has won two thirds of the triple crown four times. But even the best horses can’t do it alone and Bodmeister will have 2005 Derby winning jockey Mike Smith in the stirrups when he breaks from the gate at six. Smith has ridden this horse just once this year, but it came in a winning effort at the Arkansas Derby. Bodemeister has ran four times in total this year. In those races he has won twice, and finished second in the other two events.

Gemologist 7:1 – This is the other Todd Pletcher horse in this year’s field. Keep in mind that this four straight Eclipse Award winner for best trainer, won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver. My only concern here is the unknown abilities of Venezuelan jockey Javier Castellano whose biggest ride was at Calder in 1997. Other victories include Ghostzapper in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic and Bernardini in the 2006 Preakness. Nevertheless, Gemologist has won five straight races. Four of those have come with Castellano on board, and two of those have been this year. There is a reason this guy’s odds are so short, but starting from the 15 spot could leave the pair too far out heading into to turn one.

Union Rags 9:2 – The other co-favorite here for the odds makers. Starting from post position 4, trainer Michael Matz, who stepped into the national spotlight as the trainer of 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro, will hope his colt has what it takes to bring home the money. And although two time Eclipse champion jockey Julien Leparoux has not had much success at Churchill Downs, Rags has done nothing but succeed on hi s path to the Blue Grass State. The Chadds Ford Stable product has been run under the Twin Spires six times in the past 10 months, and as never not shown in the end. With four first place finishes, one second place, and a third place in those attempts, it is no wonder why this is one of the shortest favorites in the field.

Dullahan 8:1 – This horse has not performed all that well in his appearances thus far. Well, at least not good enough to be considered one of the favorites this weekend bases on his performance alone. But he does have some help up top. Kent Desormeaux knows what it takes to win here. He, like Calvin Borel, has done it on three different horses. The last was Big Brown in 2008. So no one will be surprised to see Dullahan, who breaks from post 5, with the roses around his neck after the dust settles on Derby Day.

My Pick: Dullahan -It’s a tossup. While I like Union Rags steady diet of wins and consistent finishes, it’s Desormeaux who impresses me the most.

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