2020 Kentucky Derby: Choosing the Best Picks Among Top Contenders

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2020

Kentucky Derby entry Authentic runs during a workout at Churchill Downs, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Louisville, Ky. The 146th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 5th. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

Tiz the Law does not have history on his side going into the 2020 Kentucky Derby.

Post 17 has not produced a champion in the previous 145 editions of the Triple Crown race at Churchill Downs. That specific starting spot has been used on 41 occasions. 

The Belmont Stakes winner will have a test on his hands from the second he leaves the starting gate since his two biggest challenges start to his left and right. 

Since Honor A. P., Tiz the Law and Authentic are starting alongside each other, most of the focus throughout the race will be on the outside lanes. 

Only one horse in the first 10 starting spots carries odds lower than 30-1. The three favorites and 20-1 horse Ny Traffic will come from the outside.


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Best Picks Among Top Contenders

Tiz the Law

Any discussion about a potential Kentucky Derby winner has to begin with Tiz the Law. 

The horse trained by Barclay Tagg has been the most dominant three-year-old in 2020, with victories at the Holy Bull Stakes, Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes. 

At the Belmont, Tiz the Law won from Post 8, which was the third furthest outside position in the 10-horse field. 

In his other three victories this year, Tiz the Law has started on either the inside or middle of the pack. 

Tiz the Law will face two challenges from the start of Saturday's race, as he needs to work into the field from an outside post position and fend off his two top rivals from the beginning. 

Jockey Manuel Franco can approach the race in two different fashions. He could lead Tiz the Law ahead of the other outside starters and work into the middle of the field, or ride the coattails of Honor A. P. and Authentic to save energy for the final push. 

While he could come out on top, Tiz the Law likely will not win another race by three lengths or longer since this is the most competitive field he has raced. 

The Belmont Stakes had a weaker field than usual since a few horses suffered injuries in the buildup to the first leg of the Triple Crown, and Honor A. P. and Authentic were not involved. 

Tiz the Law is the best in-form horse in the field and is worth a bet at 3-5. Since he is the popular selection to win, he could go off with lower odds.



Authentic holds slightly longer odds than Honor A. P., but he could be the best candidate to challenge Tiz the Law. 

Authentic has won three of his last four races. Honor A. P. comes into Churchill Downs with a pair of second-place finishes and a victory. 

Most of Authentic's success occurred at Santa Anita Park, where he won the San Felipe Stakes and Sham Stakes. He took second at the Santa Anita Derby in June behind Honor A. P. 

After winning the Santa Anita Derby, Honor A. P. placed second behind Derby long shot Thousand Words at the Shared Belief Stakes. 

Authentic may have the advantage over Honor A. P. and Tiz the Law since he begins the race in the furthest outside post position. 

That could allow Authentic to get off to a start with clean air to the right of him, and there is a scenario in which he runs from that position before meshing into the middle. 

Racing with a bit of clean air on one side could give Authentic the slight advantage he needs to surpass Tiz the Law on the track.

Even with things going in his favor, Authentic will need a perfect race to fend off the Kentucky Derby favorite. 


Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90

Statistics obtained from KentuckyDerby.com