LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 03: Audible trains on the track during morning workouts in preparation for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 3, 2018 in Louisville, Kentucky. I haven't done the research, but typically, how many horses in the Derby didn't run at 2? Local OTB's will draw the biggest crowds of the season on Saturday, as it is the most wagered-upon race of the year.
The annual Grade I stakes competition, the "Run for the Roses", has always been the biggest showcase of American horse racing.
The field for the annual Running for the Roses is wide open, experts say. But I think you can make the case this is one of the best Derby fields of the last 25 years, at least comparable to the strong groups of 1997 and 2007 and perhaps even better. I'll provide you with some info on the favorites and a few sleeper picks. His trainer, Todd Pletcher, knows how to coach a victor, having helped Always Dreaming to a first-place finish at the Derby a year ago. The horse did not race at all as a two-year-old but is 3-0 in his career.
On March 11, the chestnut colt bred in Kentucky won on a muddy track at Santa Anita, running one mile in 1:35.73 and winning by 6 1/2 lengths. The problem is, not all of the top contenders will have a place in the Kentucky Derby superfecta. With such a large field Justify could have trouble maneuvering for position down the stretch. Trainer Todd Pletcher will run not only Vino Rosso and Audible, but Magnum Moon and Noble Indy as well. Smith won last year's Oaks aboard Abel Tasman and seeks to become the first rider since Eddie Arcaro (1951-53) to win in consecutive years.
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Should Mendelssohn win, it will also be the first Kentucky Derby victory for his trainer O'Brien, who has had five previous runners, as well as for jockey Moore. Just trying to keep up with the top horses is discouraging and, eventually, very tiring. Audible is coming off a big win at the Florida Derby and comes out of the 5th post. Actually, they change nothing with a horse like Justify or the last four Derby winners. Javier Castellano is the jockey.
Although mares are allowed to enter the race, only three female thoroughbred horses have ever won the competition in history. The Kent Desormeaux trainee flourished in the muddy conditions, finding the best path while rallying inside on the far turn en route to a 4 1/2-length triumph. The jockey is a three-time Derby victor but last won in 2008. Espinoza will be seeking his fourth Derby victory. Justify and Florida Derby victor Audible each brought $500,000 at auction.
Betting Tip - Stay away from Firenze Fire and Free Drop Billy as their inside post positions at 1 and 2 all but eliminates them from the race.
Additionally, according to ESPN's Chris Fallica, horses entering the race with the third-best odds haven't won the Derby since Strike the Gold in 1991.