The Kentucky Derby is much more than a singular race. In the days leading up to the main event, Churchill Downs is packed with spectators sipping on mint juleps and taking in some exciting undercard races featuring international and up-and-coming horses.
Of course, even before the undercard's first race, we have the nerve-racking post-position draw.
The draw is one of the most crucial elements of the Derby, as a good position can give an average horse instant contending status, while a poor position can put a favorite in dire straits. Getting pinned against the rail or being forced to make up significant ground after starting from far outside is a fear of many owners.
So, before all of the activities commence, let's take a look at the full schedule of events from Churchill Downs, followed by some insight into the 2015 Kentucky Derby's top contenders.
2015 Kentucky Derby Schedule
|2015 Kentucky Derby Schedule and Viewing Information|
|Wed., April 29||Kentucky Derby Draw||5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. ET||NBCSN|
|Thu., April 30||Kentucky Derby Access||4 p.m. - 5 p.m. ET||NBCSN|
|Fri., May 1||Kentucky Oaks||12:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. ET||NBCSN|
|Sat., May 2||Derby Prep||12 p.m. - 4 p.m. ET||NBCSN|
|Sat., May 2||Kentucky Derby||4 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. ET||NBC|
Specific Kentucky Oaks and Derby viewing information can be found at KentuckyDerby.ag.
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
2015 Kentucky Derby Top Contenders
American Pharoah (2-1 odds)
American Pharoah seems poised for success in the 141st Kentucky Derby. Trained by Bob Baffert and jockeyed by Victor Espinoza, this three-year-old colt will be surrounded by quite a supporting cast at Churchill Downs.
Adding to the allure of American Pharoah, he has a strong bloodline. His sire is Pioneerof the Nile, a 2009 Kentucky Derby favorite, and his lineage also includes 2003 Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker and 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled. American Pharoah is already living up to lofty expectations.
Following a big win in the Rebel Stakes in March, he delivered a sparkling performance in the Arkansas Derby, taking down Far Right and Mr. Z (two Kentucky Derby contenders) in the process. During the race, he maintained his position near the front of the pack before making his move at the top of the stretch and displaying great finishing speed en route to an eight-length victory.
Here's a look at the full race:
That dominating victory showcased just how dangerous American Pharoah can be when he's asked to run. His style, along with the intelligence and experience of Espinoza at the helm, makes American Pharoah a huge threat to don the garland of roses following the 1 ¼-mile Kentucky Derby.
Dortmund (9-2 odds)
Interestingly enough, Dortmund, the Kentucky Derby's other favorite, is also a Baffert-trained horse and will be jockeyed by the highly successful Martin Garcia. This three-year-old colt was bred in Kentucky, potentially making him a hometown favorite at Churchill Downs.
Like American Pharoah, Dortmund has a great pedigree. His sire is Big Brown, winner of the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and Big Brown was an offspring of Danzig, a highly important sire that produced 188 graded stakes winners. After going undefeated through his first six races, Dortmund is on track to continue the success of his bloodline.
Dortmund's most recent race was also his most important, as he emerged victorious in the Santa Anita Derby. Despite a shaky start, the colt burst out to the front of the pack and set the race's pace. He maintained that position throughout before being asked to run around the final turn. He galloped to a 4 ¼-length victory.
Here's a look at the race in its entirety:
While Dortmund still showcased his ability to finish, he was no longer pulling away from the field down the final stretch. The question here may be if the extra quarter-mile in the Kentucky Derby will have an adverse effect on his ability to close out a race.
All odds courtesy of Odds Shark.