Art Collector is the favorite in Sunday’s Ellis Park Derby, a stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby. Photo by @FansHorseRacin1 (Twitter).
- Sunday’s Ellis Park Derby is among this year’s final Kentucky Derby prep races
- One of the favorites for the Run for the Roses, Art Collector is heavy chalk in Henderson, KY
- Where is the best betting value when assessing the Ellis Park Derby?
The capital of horse racing in the United States is the state of Kentucky. Lexington and it’s suburbs are filled with high-end farms, Keeneland hosts not only two boutique race meets but the biggest auctions each year, and Churchill Downs is home to the Kentucky Derby. There are five thoroughbred tracks in the Bluegrass State. Ellis Park doesn’t come close to ranking among the three most prestigious. However, in this bizarre year, it is about to have a moment in the sun.
The Kentucky Derby is a month away and there are still horses who need to qualify. Additionally, several top contenders are seeking a final prep. Enter the Ellis Park Derby. Sunday’s feature race in Henderson, KY features top Derby challenger Art Collector, and several other solid candidates.
While Art Collector has the best resume of the horses entered and is going to take a ton of money, is he a lock, or does another rival present betting value? Let’s dive into the field and analyze the group.
2020 Ellis Park Derby Odds
|Horse||Odds at Bet365|
Odds taken August 7
The Ellis Park Derby will be run at one-mile-and-an-eighth on the main track. Post time is 6:10 pm EST. Only next weekend’s Pegasus at Monmouth Park will remain among Kentucky Derby qualifying events after things are completed this Sunday.
Prior to last month Art Collector had run in one stakes race and finished seventh in it. However, as the calendar changed from 2019 to 2020 Art Collector became a different horse. Last year he was one for five. In 2020 he is three for three and July’s Bluegrass Stakes elevated him to among the Kentucky Derby favorites.
Only the filly Swiss Skydiver, among the favorites for the Kentucky Oaks, was a challenge to Art Collector, who pulled away in Lexington. That suggests the longer Kentucky Derby distance may be welcomed. Will he be fully cranked up for the Ellis Park Derby, knowing the ultimate prize comes in a month? A repeat of his race at Keeneland should be plenty good enough on Sunday.
2020 Kentucky Derby Odds Tracker
The story for Dean Martini is not completely unlike Art Collector. It took him eight times to break his maiden, but recently, look out. He won his first race in May, stepped up in competition and was the runner up to well regarded Man in the Can in an allowance optional claiming event at Churchill Downs, and then won the Ohio Derby.
That victory looks even better when you consider several horses still aiming for the Derby ran behind Dean Martini. Trainer Tom Amoss is having a very strong summer, and this three-year-old may have just gotten hot and matured at the right time.
Shared Sense entered the serious Derby discussion after winning last month’s Indiana Derby.
In the same way that Dean Martini needed to prosper in Ohio to solidify his spot, Shared Sense had not faired well in stakes action until the Indiana Derby. Two races ago he finished second, soundly beaten by Art Collector in an allowance optional claimer at Churchill Downs.
If you feel that Art Collector may be just running in a glorified workout, and not fully dedicated to winning, and are unconvinced on Dean Martini or Shared Sense, there is room for a price horse.
Anneau d’Or has just one career victory, but has consistently run against strong competition, and hasn’t been embarrassed, finishing fourth in a couple of recent Grade 1 races. He was the runner up in two graded stakes last year.
He came within a whisker or two of winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile, so the talent is clearly present.
On the flip side, Little Menace is stepping up in competition to see if he has matured enough to earn enough qualifying points in one of the last opportunities to punch his ticket to Louisville.
Trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, he is coming off a stakes victory at Lone Star Park. He ran consistently solid in races at Oaklawn Park in February, March, and April. His win last month in Texas gave a reason to try a Derby prep.
Art Collector has an outstanding shot at winning, but the price is not all that appealing. The secondary choices have each run one good race, but it is unclear whether they have found something, or are one-hit wonders. Anneau d’Or at least offers value. We’re not overly optimistic he is going to win, but at the price we’ll take a shot.
Pick: Anneau d’Or (+800)
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.