It's seemingly been a long time coming, but the 2015 Kentucky Derby is finally here. After all the buildup, speculation and wavering odds, Saturday will see a hugely competitive field run at Churchill Downs.
American Pharoah is the favourite, but Dortmund, Mubtaahij, Carpe Diem, Danzig Moon and Frosted are all sure to be in the mix come the final furlong.
American Pharoah will have to buck a historic trend if he is going to triumph. Following the post draw on Wednesday, the withdrawals of El Kabeir and Stanford saw a reshuffle take place.
For the Bob Baffert-trained Pharoah, that means a start from gate No. 17, the only hole that has never produced a Derby winner, per Odds Shark:
However, American Pharoah has the talent to buck the trend and come through as the winner with 2014 winner Victor Espinoza on board.
Here are final projections for where each horse will finish in the 141st Run for the Roses as well as the latest odds and the post positions following the withdrawals:
|2015 Kentucky Derby Post Positions and Odds|
|2||Ocho Ocho Ocho||Elvis Trujillo||Jim Cassidy||25-1||10-19|
|3||Carpe Diem||John Velazquez||Todd Pletcher||8-1||6|
|4||Materiality||Javier Castellano||Todd Pletcher||16-1||5|
|5||Tencendur||Manny Franco||George Weaver||50-1||9|
|6||Danzig Moon||Julien Leparoux||Mark Casse||33-1||4|
|7||Mubtaahij||Christophe Soumillon||Mike de Kock||12-1||2|
|8||Dortmund||Martin Garcia||Bob Baffert||18-5||3|
|9||Bolo||Rafael Bejarano||Carla Gaines||40-1||10-19|
|10||Firing Line||Gary Stevens||Simon Callaghan||12-1||10-19|
|11||Itsaknockout||Luis Saez||Todd Pletcher||33-1||8|
|12||Keen Ice||Kent Desormeaux||Dale Romans||40-1||10-19|
|13||Frosted||Joel Rosario||Kiaran McLaughlin||16-1||7|
|14||War Story||Joe Talamo||Tom Amoss||50-1||10-19|
|15||Mr. Z||Ramon Vazquez||D. Wayne Lukas||50-1||10-19|
|16||American Pharoah||Victor Espinoza||Bob Baffert||13-5||1|
|17||Upstart||Jose Ortiz||Rick Violette Jr.||25-1||10-19|
|18||Far Right||Mike Smith||Ron Moquett||40-1||10-19|
|19||Frammento||Corey Nakatani||Nick Zito||66-1||10-19|
Pharoah's performance at the Arkansas Derby last month was hugely impressive. He thrashed a decent field by eight lengths and looked to have a couple of additional gears to go up into if needed.
He will need to reach top gear to triumph on Saturday, but as racing analyst Joe Kristufek notes, he has looked in irresistible form in training:
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A sure thing is not a possibility in the Derby, though, as the size and strength of the field make unpredictability a facet of every Run for the Roses.
That could play into the hands of relative outsider Danzig Moon, who is worthy of backing, as he has looked in good shape recently.
He finished second to Carpe Diem at the Blue Grass Stakes in his last run, a distinct improvement on his fourth-place showing at the Tampa Bay Derby in March.
As North American Trainer's Frances Karon notes, a decent showing from Danzig Moon would be no surprise:
Ridden by Julien Leparoux, Danzig Moon has a decent starting position from No. 6, with hotly tipped duo Mubtaahij and Dortmund just outside him.
Dortmund is undefeated in six career races, and his win at the Santa Anita Derby in April was particularly impressive. Also trained by Baffert, who arguably has the race's two best prospects, Dortmund will be looking to outrun American Pharoah.
Mubtaahij will be looking to become the first foreign-trained horse to win the Derby, bringing form into the race after an eight-length triumph at the UAE Derby.
Bettors have no guarantees when it comes to which horse to back in the Kentucky Derby, but a handful of runners are being widely tipped for glory.
Whether the likes of American Pharoah live up to the hype remains to be seen, but it is set to be a storming contest in Louisville.