The 2014 Kentucky Derby promises to once again feature some of the best two minutes the sporting world has to offer this Saturday when a 20-horse showdown takes control of the globe ever so briefly.
The NBA and NHL playoffs of recent weeks have stressed the importance of seconds in sporting events, but the spectacle at Churchill Downs will put an exclamation mark on that point of emphasis as the horse-jockey tandems make their way around the track.
It's must-see television for hardcore and casual fans alike, so here's a look at the schedule and a few things to know.
Date: Saturday, May 3
When: Coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET
Post Time: 6:24 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NBCSports.com
|1||Vicar's In Trouble||Rosie Napravnik||Mike Maker||Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey|
|2||Harry's Holiday||Corey Lanerie||Mike Maker||Skychai Racing LLC, Sand Dollar Stable, LLC, Terry Raymond & Jana Wagner|
|3||Uncle Sigh||Irad Ortiz Jr.||Gary Contessa||Wounded Warrior Stables & Anthony C. Robertson|
|4||Danza||Joe Bravo||Todd Pletcher||Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners|
|5||California Chrome||Victor Espinoza||Art Sherman||Steve and Carolyn Coburn & Perry and Denise Martin|
|6||Samraat||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||My Meadowview Farm|
|7||We Miss Artie||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||Kenneth L. and Sarah K. Ramsey|
|8||General A Rod||Joel Rosario||Mike Maker||Starlight Racing & Skychai Racing, LLC|
|9||Vinceremos||Joe Rocco Jr.||Todd Pletcher||WinStar Farm LLC and Twin Creeks Racing|
|10||Wildcat Red||Luis Saez||Jose Garoffalo||Honors Stable Corp.|
|11||Pablo Del Monte (Scratched)|
|12||Dance With Fate||Corey Nakatani||Peter Eurton||S. Alesia, Bran Jam Stable & Ciaglia Racing, LLC|
|13||Chitu||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||Tanma Corporation|
|14||Medal Count||Robby Albarado||Dale Romans||Spendthrift Farm|
|15||Tapiture||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steve Asmussen||Winchell Thoroughbreds|
|16||Intense Holiday||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||Starlight Racing|
|17||Commanding Curve||Shaun Bridgmohan||Dallas Stewart||West Point Thoroughbreds|
|18||Candy Boy||Gary Stevens||John Sadler||C R K Stable LLC|
|19||Ride On Curlin||Calvin Borel||William G. Gowan||Daniel J. Dougherty|
|20||Wicked Strong||Rajiv Maragh||James A. Jerkens||Centennial Farms|
Integral Storylines to Watch
Horses Racing for Something Bigger
For all the negative attention sports can garner, they can also act as an extremely positive influence on all sorts of topics.
This is the case on Saturday, as two horses are racing for good causes and will see proceeds of their performances go toward those in need. Teresa Genaro of Forbes has the scoop:
Wicked Strong (#4 in points), whose name alludes to his owner’s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, will run for The One Fund Boston, which supports those affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. A portion of Uncle Sigh’s earnings (he’s at #17 in points) go to two veterans’ charities: Retrieving Freedom, which trains service dogs for placement with veterans, children with autism and adults and children with diabetes., and Task Force Dagger Foundation, which supports the families of those wounded, ill, or injured as a result of their military service. Uncle Sigh is owned by Wounded Warrior Stables and Anthony C. Robinson.
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens suggests that Wicked Strong may have an edge on Saturday and in subsequent Triple Crown events because of what the horse is racing for, per Beth Harris of the Associated Press:
'It's a neat thing,' trainer Jimmy Jerkens said. 'Might be an extra force that will help us, if you believe in that kind of stuff.'
'Sometimes you do,' he replied. 'Things seem to happen like that for some unexplained reason.'
To make the feel-good story come true, Wicked Strong will have to overcome the No. 19 post position, a slot Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde was not too enthusiastic about when it was announced originally at No. 20:
Wicked Strong gets a wicked post: No. 20. Ouch.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) April 30, 2014
The No. 20 slot has produced just one winner in Derby history—Big Brown in 2008. But winners have noticeably trended toward the outside in recent years, and Wicked Strong has displayed enough breakaway speed in recent events to suggest he can pull away from the pack.
Uncle Singh, the other horse Genaro mentions, races out of the No. 3 post, a spot that hasn't produced winner since 1998 (Real Quiet). He's one of the bigger long shots of the proceedings on Saturday, but as Jerkens points out, these things have a way of simply working out sometimes.
Art Sherman's Return to Churchill Downs
It's not often the Derby sees a major name make his or her return to Churchill Downs, but this year is an exception to the rule thanks to Art Sherman.
Sherman makes his return as a trainer in major style after a 59-year absence and touts the biggest favorite of all on Saturday in California Chrome. But by his word, he's just happy to be back in action:
California Chrome may be next on a long list of victors under Sherman, who has produced more than 2,100 winners since 1979, per Ed McNamara from Newsday. It helps that his horse was gifted the No. 5 slot, which he says was a nugget of good news, per horseracinghl of the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Art Sherman on @CalChrome drawing post No. 5 "My jock said the last time he won the Derby it was No. 5. That's good enough for me." (cont)— horseracinghl (@horseracinghl) April 30, 2014
That post has produced eight winners, with the last coming in 2003 (Funny Cide). California Chrome is the overwhelming favorite after winning his last four events by more than 24 lengths, so there's a strong chance Sherman's return will be one to remember.