More than a century ago, one of the greatest upsets in Kentucky Derby history took place. In 1913, Donerail started the 1 1/4-mile first jewel of the Triple Crown as a huge longshot at 91/1 odds to win. The three-year-old colt would shock the horse racing world with a burst down the final sixteenth-mile for a half-length victory over the favored Ten Point.
As The Courier-Journal recently pointed out, Donerail’s victory changed horse racing betting, marking the switch to pari-mutuel wagering with the public betting against each other rather than with a book keeper. The purse for owner and trainer Tom Hayes was $6,600, and anyone smart or crazy enough to bet on Donerail won $184.90 for every $2 they wagered.
Hayes, understandably, was beside himself.
“I regard it as the greatest afternoon in my whole life for the reason that I was born and reared in Louisville and I have won Louisville’s greatest race," he said.
Now the question is: Can any of the early longshots in the 2015 Kentucky Derby field pull off a feat similar to Donerail?
The short answer is technically no. Currently, no thoroughbred has odds lower than 50/1 to trot out a victory lap next month at Churchill Downs.
But with frontrunners American Pharoah and Dortmund, both trained by the esteemed Bob Baffert, considered so far ahead of the rest of the field, an upset from any of the longshots would certainly earn a spot alongside Donerail’s run.
Based off odds from Bovada.lv posted last week, below are the five biggest potential longshots in the 141st Run for the Roses.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has two top contenders to challenge Baffert’s Dortmund and American Pharoah, but Itsaknockout shouldn’t be overlooked. Before winding up fourth at the Florida Derby last month, Itsaknockout had won his first three races, including the 1 1/16-mile Grade II Fountain of Youth.
And like another longshot on this list, Itsaknockout can claim 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew as part of his lineage.
Far Right 33/1
Maybe the most tested contender in this year’s field, Far Right has started nine races dating back to April of last year. His worst finish was fourth place at the G2 Futurity in October, and since then he’s finished no lower than third while laying claim to wins at the Smarty Jones and G3 Southwest Stakes. Far Right also wound up second to American Pharoah at the Arkansas Derby, which moved him to 10th on the prep race standings with 62 points.
Danzig Moon 33/1
Though he’s yet to win a race longer than a mile, Danzig Moon has tangled with the likes of Derby contenders Carpe Diem and Ocho Ocho Ocho before. He was runner-up to Carpe Diem at the Blue Grass Stakes two weeks ago and was a solid fourth at the Tampa Bay Derby last month. Danzig Moon actually improved when he took on the bigger track at the Blue Grass, closing out the last 1/8-mile in just over six seconds compared to his kick at Tampa Bay.
Tencendur showed the same tenacity as Danzig Moon when he was runner-up at the Wood Memorial on April 4. Trained by George Weaver, it was Tencendur’s best showing in any stakes race after previously coming up fourth at the G3 Withers Stakes and fifth at the Gotham.
Mr. Z 50/1
Mr. Z has one victory to his name, which came at his very first start back in June of last year. Since then Mr. Z has four runner-ups and four third-place finishes, and he faded significantly all the way to ninth place at the Louisiana Derby last month. But several things make Mr. Z a threat at Churchill Downs. For one, he can hang in the longer races, as judged by this third-place finishes at Smarty Jones and the Southwest Stakes, and at the Arkansas Derby he was right there with American Pharoah until the last stretch.
Also, Mr. Z does share lineage with Seattle Slew.