With the post positions and field set, it's time to preview this year's Kentucky Derby. Below, we'll break down the schedule, field and analyze some of the race's most interesting storylines.
Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky
When: Saturday, May 6
Post Time: 6:34 p.m. ET
TV: NBC (Coverage will run from 2:30 p.m. until 7:20 p.m.)
Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Kentucky Derby Field|
|1||Girvin||Mike E. Smith||Joe Sharp||7|
|2||Classic Empire||Julien R. Leparoux||Mark E. Casse||14|
|3||Gormley||Victor Espinoza||John A. Shirreffs||18|
|4||Irap||Mario Gutierrez||Doug F. O'Neill||9|
|5||Irish War Cry||Rajiv Maragh||H. Graham Motion||17|
|6||Thunder Snow||Christophe Soumillon||Saeed bin Suroor||2|
|7||Always Dreaming||John R. Velazquez||Todd A. Pletcher||5|
|8||Gunnevera||Javier Castellano||Antonio Sano||10|
|9||Practical Joke||Joel Rosario||Chad C. Brown||19|
|10||J Boys Echo||Robby Albarado||Dale L. Romans||13|
|11||State of Honor||Jose Lezcano||Mark E. Casse||6|
|12||Tapwrit||Jose L. Ortiz||Todd A. Pletcher||16|
|13||Hence||Florent Geroux||Steven M. Asmussen||8|
|14||Fast and Accurate||Channing Hill||Michael J. Maker||3|
|15||McCraken||Brian Joseph Hernandez Jr.||Ian R. Wilkes||15|
|16||Battle of Midway||Flavien Prat||Jerry Hollendorfer||11|
|17||Patch||Tyler Gaffalione||Todd A. Pletcher||20|
|18||Untrapped||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Steven M. Asmussen||4|
|19||Lookin at Lee||Corey J. Lanerie||Steven M. Asmussen||1|
|20||Sonneteer||J. Keith Desormeaux||Kent J. Desormeaux||12|
One of the most interesting stories heading into this year's Kentucky Derby involves contender Patch, who has just one eye. According to an Associated Press report (via USA Today), the circumstances surrounding the loss of Patch's eye are unclear.
"We came in one morning and his eye was a little bit swollen, and he was tearing heavily," trainer Todd Pletcher told the AP, adding, "Everyone is stumped as to exactly what happened."
That hasn't slowed Patch down one bit, though. He has a win in three starts and finished second at the Louisiana Derby. Patch may not be among the favorites at the Derby, but he's already become a fan favorite.
"I kind of anticipated Patch would become pretty popular," Pletcher said. "It's an intriguing story and he's a really, really cool horse to be around. He's very laid back, very professional, very straightforward to train."
As for the favorites, well, this year's race doesn't have a clear top option in the field. Classic Empire and Always Dreaming are considered the two most likely horses to win the race, though neither is a sure thing.
"I think it's as wide open as we've seen in a long time," trainer Dale Romans told John Cherwa of the Los Angeles Times. "I think you're going to have some big odds on whoever the favorite is. I think you've got McCraken. I think You've got Always Dreaming. And, of course, Classic Empire… I mean it could be any horse in this race."
Always Dreaming isn't without concerns, however.
"The reason I don't like what I've seen is the way he's been galloping in the morning, it makes you think he's not going to be able to relax," NBC analyst and former jockey Donna Barton Brothers told Tim Sullivan of the Courier Journal. "He did buck a couple of times down the backside (Monday). ... That's not the sort of thing you want to see leading up to the Derby, and this close to the Derby."
An open Derby field, of course, is a fun Derby field. Clearly, post positions should impact this race. The weather will also play a factor. And if a horse like Always Dreaming is having a bad day, an upstart could emerge.
On the other hand, if Always Dreaming is at his best, a wide open field likely will be eating his dust come Saturday.