Louisiana Derby winner Vicar’s in Trouble may have to overcome unosphobia — fear of the number 1 — if he wants to become the first Louisiana-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.
The colt’s morning-line odds were raised from 20-1 to 30-1 after he drew post position No. 1.
“I was kind of shocked, especially since he was the first one drawn,” jockey Rosie Napravnik said. “It’s not ideal for anyone, but if I had to have a horse coming out at No. 1, it would be Vicar. He’s sharp coming out of the hole.”
Vicar’s in Trouble is the first Louisiana-bred horse to compete in the Churchill Downs race since Zarb’s Magic in 1996, and only the third overall.
A win for Vicar’s in Trouble would also be historic in another way: Napravnik could become the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Derby.
“In the Louisiana Derby, there was plenty of speed outside, and one of them didn’t break, so it really materialized for me,” Napravnik said. “I had a clear field, and I decided we’re going to take it, and I just let the race play out. There have been winners out of No. 1 — so Vicar’s not in trouble yet.”
The last horse to win the Derby in the No. 1 position was Ferdinand in 1986, and no horses from spots 1, 2 or 3 have finished in the top three since 1998.
Napravnik finished fifth last year on Mylute, the best-ever finish for a female jockey in the race. She will start in the far outside position on the favorite Untapable in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks at No. 13 — the same spot where Vicar’s in Trouble started in the Risen Star and finished third. It was the only time in his past four starts that he did not win.
Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Vicar’s in Trouble is ranked No. 2 in points this season. His trainer, Mike Maker, has two other horses in the Derby field: Harry’s Holiday at post 2 and General A Rod at post 8.
Jockey Corey Lanerie will mount Harry’s Holiday for his first Derby ride; his is one of five Kentucky Derby rookies. Harry’s Holiday has 50-1 odds, and General A Rod is at 15-1.
Maker said in a teleconference last week that Vicar’s in Trouble has improved since the colt’s unchallenged 31/2-length win in the Louisiana Derby on March 29.
“Since the race, he’s really moved forward, put on weight. He looks fabulous, and he’s been very aggressive — which, you know, built a lot of character for him,” Maker said. “So I see a lot of positive signs in Vicar’s in Trouble.”
The Derby favorite, California Chrome, drew post 5 and has 5-2 morning-line odds for the 11/4-mile race. The Santa Anita Derby winner is trained by Art Sherman, who could be the oldest trainer to win the Kentucky Derby at age 77.
Trainer Todd Pletcher has the most horses in the 20-horse field with four: Danza (post 4; 10-1 odds), We Miss Artie (post 7; 50-1 odds), Vinceremos (post 9; 30-1 odds), and Intense Holiday (post 16; 12-1 odds).
Ride On Curlin, ridden by Louisiana native and three-time Derby winner Calvin Borel, drew post 19 and has 15-1 odds.
“It wasn’t my ideal choice, but I think he’ll be OK,” said Billy Gowan, the trainer of Ride On Curlin and Winnsboro native. “There’s a lot of speed in there; he’s got to get on over there as quick as possible.”
Louisiana Derby runner-up Intense Holiday’s No. 16 post position puts the colt in the same spot as last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Orb. Intense Holiday won the Risen Star at the Fair Grounds in February. Third-place Louisiana Derby finisher Commanding Curve will start next door at post 17, the only post position never to have a Kentucky Derby winner.
Napravnik will be suspended for four days after she rides Vicar’s in Trouble in the Derby. In the Derby Trial last week, she and horse Bayern were disqualified after making contact with Embellishing Bob and jockey Brian Hernandez Jr. She will serve her suspension May 8-11.