Horse racing is still called the sport of kings, but it has been decades since it stood on top of the American sporting pedestal along with boxing and baseball.
However, while thoroughbred racing no longer commands great attention throughout the majority of the year, it still comes into focus at various points in the year.
The sport did create a niche for itself with the Breeders' Cup races that come late in the year, but the Triple Crown races are the sport's most celebrated events.
The 144th Kentucky Derby starts this year's Triple Crown racing season, and the only time it can truly be topped is when the winner of the Run for the Roses also takes the Preakness, and attention shifts to the Belmont Stakes for a potential Triple Crown winner.
The glamour and glitz of the sport comes to the forefront at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and this year's race features 20 horses who will go to the post with a chance to claim glory.
Justify is the plus-350 favorite, according to OddsShark, and he appears to be a strong competitor who has won all three of his starts.
However, none of those starts came as a two-year-old, and that means trainer Bob Baffert is trying to overcome a 136-year-old trend that has kept any Derby entrant out of the winner's circle that didn't race as a two-year-old.
The last time a horse who didn't run as a juvenile won the Kentucky Derby came in 1882. That horse's name was Apollo, and it is part of the sport's lore.
Justify is a terrific horse with a Hall of Fame trainer and a superb jockey in Mike Smith. He is not the only horse in the field that did not race as a two-year-old.
The same holds for Magnum Moon, a plus-700 choice who is trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Luis Saez. Magnum Moon came through with a winning effort in the Arkansas Derby and also was victorious in another stakes race at Oaklawn Park earlier this year.
Both Justify and Magnum Moon appear to have an excellent chance of finding the winner's circle on Saturday and breaking the 136-year-old Curse of Apollo.
Here's a look at the entries for this year's race, along with the starting positions and odds.
Kentucky Derby Field (Odds via OddsShark)
1. Firenze Fire (+6600)
2. Free Drop Billy (+3300)
3. Promises Fulfilled (+4000)
4. Flameaway (+4000)
5. Audible (+550)
6. Good Magic (+900)
7. Justify (+350)
8. Lone Sailor (+5000)
9. Hofburg (+1600)
10. My Boy Jack (+2200)
11. Bolt d'Oro (+900)
12. Enticed (+2500)
13. Bravazo (+5000)
14. Mendelssohn (+400)
15. Instilled Regard (+5000)
16. Magnum Moon (+700)
17. Solomini (+2000)
18. Vino Rosso (+1400)
19. Noble Indy (+2800)
20. Combatant (+6600)
Mendelssohn is a powerful horse and the second choice in the field with odds of plus-400. Trained by European stalwart Aidan O'Brien and ridden by jockey Ryan Moore, Mendelssohn put on an overwhelming performance in winning the UAE Derby in Dubai.
Mendelssohn crossed the finish line 18-and-a-half lengths ahead of his closest competitor, and horse players would be wise to consider that finish strongly before making a wager. Critics will point out that no UAE Derby winner has ever hit the board in the Run for the Roses, but the combination of a champion horse, a brilliant trainer, a top jockey and maintaining excellent form makes him a prominent runner.
Good Magic should not be overlooked at odds of plus-900. Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Jose Ortiz, this horse has hit the board in all five of his starts with two victories, two second-place finishes and one third-place showing.
Good Magic came to the forefront as a two-year-old champion as he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. While he had a dip in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (third place) in March, he came back to win the Blue Grass Stakes in April.
He has a particularly strong stalking style, and if he does not have any traffic problems running from the No. 6 hole and can stay within striking distance, he can make a run at the leaders in the late going.
Hofburg appears to have an excellent chance to make a strong showing as a plus-1600 long shot. While he does not have a lot of experience with just three previous starts, he is trained by William Mott and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Mott is known for bringing his charges along slowly, but he recognizes Hofburg's talent, and that means this horse is worthy of strong consideration.
The Derby has been known as a great race for long shots, but the trend in the five most recent races has seen favorites do quite well.
Justify is a strong horse, but there is something about Mendelssohn's 18-and-a-half-length victory and excellent European connections—O'Brien is the continent's top trainer—that makes this a most dangerous combination.
We have quite a lot of confidence in Mott, and since he is sending Hofburg to the post, we are believers. He's not good enough to beat Mendelssohn, but he is good enough to finish second.
Magnum Moon will try to press the pace and will finish in the show position.