Kentucky Derby 2020: Highlighting Early Contenders Ahead of Triple Crown Race

Maurice Bobb@@ReeseReportFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2020

Luis Saez rides Maximum Security, right, during the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs Saturday, May 4, 2019, in Louisville, Ky. Country House was declared the winner after Maximum Security was disqualified following a review by race stewards. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The year 2020 has been a difficult one for virtually every sport in the world, and the Kentucky Derby is no different.

After having its date and position within the American Triple Crown shuffled, the event hailed as the greatest two minutes in sports is back and ready to uphold its storied reputation.

The 146th annual Run for the Roses will be held at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville and staged without fans in attendance on Sept. 5. It will serve as the second leg of the iconic trio of races instead of its customary position as the first leg.

This race would normally spark the buzz about what horse or horses should be considered as the favorite or favorites to win it all, but this year, it will take the baton of momentum from the Belmont Stakes, which took place back in June.

Coming into Derby 146, Tiz the Law is the leading contender in the field of 20 thoroughbreds that will gallop down the 1¼ mile track to compete for the $3 million purse.

With 372 points, this colt is the heavy favorite, especially after taking first at the Travers Stakes back in August.

Next in line is Authentic, followed by Art Collector, who have 200 and 150 points, respectively.


Post-Position Draw

Anything can happen when the horses spring from the starting gate, so post position is important when it comes to the Derby.

That means that racing luck and luck of the draw plays just as much of a significant role as talent.

The post-position draw is scheduled for Tuesday, after which post positions and morning-line odds will be announced.


2020 Kentucky Derby Schedule

Date: Saturday, September 5

Post Time: Approximately 6:50 p.m. ET

TV Coverage: NBC (2:30 p.m. ET-7:30 p.m. ET)

Live Stream: NBC Sports app and NBCSports.com.


Early Contenders

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Thanks to great races at Holly Bull, the Florida Derby, the Belmont and the Travers, Tiz the Law is the first odds-on favorite for the Derby since Arazi back in 1992.

The Barclay Tagg-trained charge took those four by an average of four lengths.

If that's not a horse worth the hype, what is?

Known for his early speed, Tiz the Law glided through five furlongs like a bullet in 59.47 seconds at Saratoga Race Course in New York on Sunday.

"It was a little quicker than usual, but it wasn't too quick for him," Tagg told Mike MacAdam of The Daily Gazette. "He's a pretty fast horse. And I told Heather, 'I want to get a good work in him, but he doesn't need to set any records out there. I want you to keep a good snug hold on him. But I want him to work, I don't want him to lollygag around.'

"This is an important workout in one way: I don't have any way to make up for it. If he goes too slow, it's the last thing he's done in the last two or three weeks, and he needed a good work today. If he goes too slow next time, on top of the race, well, I wouldn't want it too fast, but I wouldn't want it slow, either. It's going to have to be almost perfect. Just like today would be fine, but I can only work him two times for this race. And it's the Kentucky Derby."

Tiz the Law was the first New York-bred gelding to win Belmont in 138 years.

With Manny Franco as jockey, the horse is poised to drum up the same level of excitement brought on by recent Derby winners Justify and American Pharoah.

Looking to challenge Tiz the Law is Authentic, who sealed a fourth victory in five starts with a win at Haskell in New Jersey.


Authentic Worked 1 Mile in 1:38.60 at Del Mar on August 25th, 2020, for trainer Bob Baffert. This is Authentic's penultimate work before his next start in the #KentuckyDerby on September 5th. @1stbet https://t.co/dnynRKuOza

The Bob Baffert-trained contender suffered his only loss at the Santa Anita Derby, finishing second to Honor A.P.

Authentic worked the five-furlong pole at Del Mar's track in California, passing the finish line in one minute.

He then got in a good gallop-out for seven furlongs in 1:24.60.

Authentic is coming in on the board after Tiz the Law because of concerns about the track length at the Derby.

Baffert considers him the forgotten horse in the race.

"I really like Authentic and I think (Thousand Words) can get the mile and a quarter," the trainer told Byron King of BloodHorse.com. "I've learned so much about him. With no fans, I think that will help him because he's a little bit of a head case."

Coming in third is Art Collector.

Trained by Tommy Drury Jr., this colt has come to be known as "Louisville's horse."

With wins at Blue Grass and Ellis Park Derby, Art Collector is unbeaten in four starts.

Known for his early speed, he worked four-furlongs on the all-weather track in 49.1 seconds at Skyline Training Center in Kentucky.

"This is huge," jockey Brian Hernandez told Jason Frakes of the Courier Journal. "We're going into the Derby now with a legitimate horse. Like we said after the Blue Grass, he's proven he's getting better and better with each race. He showed it again today. He put everyone away. He did it all on his own and ran away from there."


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