Here’s what finding the right Kentucky Derby long shot means to your exotic tickets. Last year’s Kentucky Derby $1 trifecta paid $1,311.80, for which you can thank 46/1 Mr. Big News and his unobtrusive third-place finish.

Bourbonic-Derby horses to avoid
Don’t get used to the scene of Kendrick Carmouche celebrating aboard Bourbonic. The 72/1 surprise Wood Memorial winner is best left off your Kentucky Derby tickets. (Image: Susie Raisher/Coglianese Photos)

Let’s look at 2019, asterisk and all. The $1 trifecta, starring 65/1 Country House, paid $11,475.30. How about 2017? Winner Always Dreaming was 5/1, but 10/1 Lookin at Lee and 20/1 Battle of Midway beating 6/1 second-favorite Classic Empire brought home an $8,207.20 payout for a $1 trifecta.

Between 2010 and 2020, the average payout for a $1 trifecta was $3,746.97. Only three times (2015, 2016, and 2018) did the payout fail to hit four figures. And this was in the age of favorites like Orb, California Chrome, American Pharoah, Nyquist, Always Dreaming, and Justify winning roses.

Detect a trend here?

Plenty of Derby long shots to choose from

The game in Kentucky Derby exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagering sounds simple: finding the right double-figure odds horses who provide those four-figure payouts. And Churchill Downs morning-line author Mike Battaglia gives you a smorgasbord of choices. Only four horses, favorite Essential Quality (2/1), Rock Your World (5/1), Known Agenda (6/1), and Hot Rod Charlie (8/1) come in with single-digit odds.

Battaglia slapped 50/1 long-shot odds on six horses – more than a quarter of the field. Three more are at 30/1, a trio including Grade 1 Arkansas Derby winner Super Stock. Four more, including stakes winners Midnight Bourbon and King Fury, are 20/1. Stakes winners Mandaloun and Medina Spirit are 15/1, while the highly regarded dark-horse, Highly Motivated, is 10/1.

That’s a lot of value sitting on the board. But if picking the right bomber was easy, you wouldn’t see those stunning, head-scratching payouts every year.

Finding Derby long shots backward, by elimination

Picking the right Derby long shot or long shots for the back end of trifectas and superfectas is an art. But there’s a science making it easier: crossing off the wrong long shots.

OG News looks at three horses best left forgotten when it comes to your tickets.


He’s one of those 30/1 Derby long shots, but this was an easy choice made even easier by his far outside post draw. Bourbonic is 2-for-3 this year, with Todd Pletcher’s decision to add blinkers apparently making the difference.

But this is the same Pletcher who, along with Calumet Farm, once put Bourbonic up for sale. It’s also the same trainer who farmed Bourbonic out to Triple-A Parx in Pennsylvania after running him in two claiming races at Aqueduct. Does this sound like a Derby threat?

Oh, and Bourbonic won those two Aqueduct claiming races: a maiden claimer and starter optional claimer. He won those with subpar speed figures that make his fellow Derby contenders laugh in pity. That’s before he finished second in an allowance optional claimer at Parx.

Then, Bourbonic capitalized on a glacial pace, winning the Wood Memorial at 72/1 with a 100 Equibase that was 12 points above his previous career-best. His career 89 Beyer for the Wood doesn’t put him near the mix needed to hit the board.

This is the place to pile on, so did we mention Bourbonic is a deep closer? In a race full of better versions of that genus? So to recap, you have a freak Grade 2 stakes winner running a slow time over nine furlongs for a trainer who didn’t even bet on him in his last race. As we said above, this one’s too easy.


Say this for Bourbonic: at least his form’s heading in the right direction. With Keepmeinmind, you have a colt not merely regressing to the mean. He’s just regressing.

This Laoban colt hit the board in all four of his 2-year-old starts (1-2-1). He finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, only two lengths behind Essential Quality. Keepmeinmind turned around and won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club three weeks later.

Then, Keepmeinmind turned 3. And when you think of the “Terrible Twos,” remember “Three” starts with “T” as well because, since the calendar flipped, Keepmeinmind’s form has been terrible. He finished a dismal sixth in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, eight lengths behind Concert Tour.

Trainer Robertino Diodoro shipped him to Keeneland for the Blue Grass. There, he got a front-row view for Keepmeinmind’s fifth-place finish – 16 lengths behind Essential Quality and six behind fourth-place Hidden Stash, who barely missed making this list.

Along with his second-worst-ever 85 Equibase in the Blue Grass, Keepeminmind was no better than fourth at any call in either of his 2021 races.

Santa Anita Park morning-line author and Xpressbet columnist Jon White applies the coup de gras. One of the eight categories in his Derby Strike System is no adding or removing blinkers in a horse’s last start before the Derby. This is because no horse adding or removing them in a race before the Derby has ever worn roses.

Horse Racing Nation reports that Diodoro plans on removing blinkers for the Derby. That fishing-for-answers move means you can easily look away from this 50/1 Derby long shot.

Brooklyn Strong

Here’s another 50/1 Derby long shot. And you hate to put him here because Brooklyn Strong is a great story. A $5,000 purchase at the April Ocala Breeders’ Sale as a 2-year-old in training, Brooklyn Strong failed to meet his reserve price twice as a yearling. Owner Mark Schwartz shipped him to trainer Danny Velazquez. The Delaware-based Velazquez guided the New York-bred to three victories on three different tracks (Delaware, Belmont, and Aqueduct) in four starts.

The last came at December’s Grade 2 Remsen, which got Brooklyn Strong his 10 Derby points. But he’s run only once since: his fifth by 4 ¾ lengths in that glacial Wood Memorial that Bourbonic won.

And that’s the problem. Not so much the fifth, although that had Velazquez prepping for the Preakness until last Friday. But the four months off for an illness and Aqueduct’s closure due to cold weather. That’s not the recipe for Derby success, especially for a closer.

Brooklyn Strong comes with more Derby long-shot baggage. He’s a gelding, another no-no under White’s DSS. Brooklyn Strong would be the first gelding since Mine That Bird in 2009, and only the fourth since 1929 to win. Throw in his inside (post 3) starting position and Brooklyn Strong would need to be the Hemingway of horses to write a successful ending here.