A total of 20 horses and their respective jockeys will have a chance to etch their names into racing folklore this weekend, with the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby set to take place at Churchill Downs.
As the first leg of a potential Triple Crown, this event can be a trigger for greatness for those taking part and, given the race’s propensity for conjuring shocks, the 10-furlong distance is one of the most watched horse racing events on the planet.
Joe Kristufek of America's Best Racing took a closer look at who he thinks will emerge victorious this year:
To ensure you don’t miss any of the action in this year’s Run for the Roses, here’s some crucial event details, including the start time and schedule for the Louisville showpiece.
|Kentucky Derby Week Schedule|
|Wednesday, Apr. 29||5:30 p.m.||Draw|
|Friday, May 1||5:45 p.m.||Kentucky Oaks|
|Saturday, May 2||6:25 p.m.||Kentucky Derby|
|Kentucky Derby: Selected Odds|
Odds accurate as of 11 a.m. (BST) on Apr. 28. For full listings check out the Odds Shark website.
Bob Baffert’s American Pharoah Leads the Betting
After a pair of clinical victories at Oaklawn Park, American Pharoah is the rightful favourite for glory in the big race at Churchill Downs. He romped to a six-length win in the Rebel Stakes before an even more convincing triumph by eight lengths in the Arkansas Derby; overall, his preparations have been pretty perfect for the Kentucky Derby.
Indeed, as noted by HRTV, he seems to have carried his sparkling form to Louisville if his five-furlong time is anything to go by:
The filly is certainly a wonderful horse, and to add further credence to his chances, Victor Espinoza will be aboard. He won this race on California Chrome last year and has another victory to his name in the Kentucky Derby from 2002. As such, he has the experience required to ease home in this bespoke event.
Speaking with Horse Racing Nation, the Mexico City native admitted there is no substitute for experience when it comes to this kind of prestigious spectacle:
I remember my first Derby and everything was new. There’s a lot of things happening with the crowd and the big field. I used to think about how amazing it was to be in the Derby.
Now, I don’t want to be in the Derby, I want to win it. I’m not just excited to be there, I’m excited to win it.
At this juncture, Baffert has the two favourites for glory in the Derby in his stable. Trailing American Pharoah in the betting is Dortmund, who is yet to be beaten so far. His ancestral lineage bodes well for the filly too, as he is the son of 2008 Derby winner Big Brown.
He’s quite the physical specimen, as we can see here courtesy of the Horse Racing Twitter account:
Aside from Baffert’s hopes, Todd Pletcher has a chance to end his longstanding poor record in the Derby. The trainer has only sampled one winner from 40 runners in this race, but with both Carpe Diem and Materiality featuring strongly in the betting coming into this weekend, he’ll fancy his chances of securing a second-ever winner.
As noted by Doug Salvatore of Twinspires, Pletcher’s stable has an atrocious record at this racecourse as a whole:
If you’re looking for an outsider, International Star is excellent value at 20-1. He finished top of the pile in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings, and the colt has won his last three races in succession coming into this one. Trained by Mike Maker, he’s certainly worth an each-way wager.
But it’s difficult to see anyone getting near American Pharoah. This race has treated us to some remarkable upsets and thrilling finishes in recent years, but over the 10-furlong distance, Baffert’s crown jewel will be too good for the chasing pack. Expect Espinoza to guide him to the front in the latter stages and take what will eventually be a comfortable victory.