Eddie Olczyk is well aware of the potentially perilous trip that awaits Known Agenda, who drew the unfavorable No. 1 post position for the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. But Olczyk was leaning in the chestnut colt’s direction last week, and he isn’t bailing just yet.
“Known Agenda has got one of the best riders in the world on him in Irad Ortiz,” said Olczyk, the Blackhawks analyst who doubles as a horse-racing handicapper and will appear on NBC’s Derby coverage. “He’s gonna have to work out a trip. Is he gonna be my win bet? I don’t know. But he is going to be a part of all my bets.”
The last horse to win the Derby from Gate 1 was Ferdinand in 1986. Further proving the inside positions are no picnic, the only horse to win from Gates 1, 2 or 3 since Ferdinand is Real Quiet (Gate 3) in 1998. But Olczyk loves a good value, and he sees one in Known Agenda, who opened at 6-1.
“Known Agenda’s probably gonna be more like 8 or 9-1 now because he’s on the rail,” Olczyk said. “People are gonna be jumping off of him. If you like him, you’re gonna get better value for him, so why wouldn’t you stay with him. That’s probably the way I’m leaning.
“But we’ll just wait and see. I’ll play a lot of my picks around Known Agenda and Hot Rod Charlie and try to get lucky underneath [third or fourth]. I’m not gonna be using the favorite in the top two spots, so if you have confidence that you can eliminate the favorite, you’ve got a chance to make some money.”
The favorite is Essential Quality, who opened at 2-1. Hot Rod Charlie has caught Olczyk’s attention and seems to be one of the hot horses. He opened at 8-1. Olczyk also expects to use 5-1 Rock Your World, and he’s considering 50-1 Sainthood underneath to add value.
But nothing will be solidified in Olczyk’s mind until Saturday, when he’ll have a better understanding of the track, the weather and any other developments. Watch for his analysis and picks during the broadcast, which begins at 1:30 p.m.