Derby morning at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
For the first time since 2015, there will be no rain falling on the Twin Spires of Churchill Downs for a Kentucky Derby held on its traditional date in Louisville, Ky., on the first Saturday in May.
The 2020 Run for the Roses was contested under clear skies and a fast track on Sept. 5, with no fans in the grandstand due to the coronavirus pandemic that caused track officials to delay the race. A limited number of tickets are being sold for this year’s renewal.
Dawn broke cool but clear, with temperatures expected to reach 73 degrees by the 6:57 p.m. ET post time for the 147th running of the Derby. Forecast calls for sunny skies throughout the day, the first mostly sunny Derby day in May since 2005.
First post for the 14-race card is 10:30 a.m. ET. The Derby is the 12th race.
There was one scratch announced on Friday for the Derby, with Kenny McPeek having to withdraw King Fury (No. 16) due to a fever and elevated white blood cell count. This year’s Derby, thus, will run with 19 starters.
Other scratches on the Derby day card announced at 8 a.m.: race 2, the also eligibles (Nos. 13 through 16); race 3, Harvard (No. 1); race 4, the also eligibles (13-16); race 8, the Grade 2 Pat Day Mile Stakes, Ultimate Badger (No. 2); race 10, the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Stakes, Attachment Rate (No. 6), who ran in Friday’s Alysheba Stakes, finishing sixth; race 12, the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, King Fury (No. 16); race 13, Triple Tap (No. 6, a half brother to American Pharoah), Santa Cruiser (No. 10), Shadow Matter No. 1A).
NBCSN will air Derby coverage from noon until 2:30 p.m. ET, with the NBC network picking up coverage from 2:30-7:30 p.m. Coverage is also available to stream live on NBCSports.com and on the NBC Sports app.
This will be the second year Churchill Downs officials are using a new starting gate that can accommodate up to 20 horses. Prior to 2020, an auxiliary gate was used to start 20-horse Derby fields, with 14 runners in the main gate and up to six in the auxiliary gate.
The winningest post position since a starting gate was first used in 1930 is No. 5, with 10 victories from 91 starts, the most recent being Always Dreaming in 2017. Next is post one, with eight wins from 91 starts, the most recent being Ferdinand in 1986.
Win bet odds for the Kentucky Derby (as of 9 a.m. ET) are:
1. Known Agenda, 16-1
2. Like the King, 54-1
3. Brooklyn Strong, 54-1
4. Keepmeinmind, 53-1
5. Sainthood, 42-1
6. O Besos, 44-1
7. Mandalounn, 40-1
8. Medina Spirit, 15-1
9. Hot Rod Charlie, 7-1
10. Midnight Bourbon, 15-1
11. Dynamic One, 45-1
12. Helium, 51-1
13. Hidden Stash, 39-1
14. Essential Quality, 6-5
15. Rock Your World, 9-2
16. King Fury SCRATCHED
17. Highly Motivated, 16-1
18. Super Stock, 46-1
19. Soup and Sandwich, 30-1
20. Bourbonic, 33-1.
Essential Quality was installed the 2-1 morning line favorite, but his odds plunged on Friday after James McIngvale, a well-known horse owner and furniture store owner from Houston, Texas, made a $500,000 win bet on the gray colt by Tapit. McIngvale said he will be betting between $2 million and $4 million as insurance against a promotion that will give away free mattresses if the Derby favorite wins.
Favorites won six consecutive Derbies, from 2013-18, with 4-1 favorite Improbable running fourth in 2019 and 7-10 favorite Tiz the Law second in the delayed Derby of 2020.
Brad Cox, the Eclipse Award-winning trainer of 2020, will be saddling his first Derby starters in Essential Quality and Mandaloun. Cox is a Louisville native who grew up in the shadow of the Twin Spires.
Trainer Bob Baffert will sent out Medina Spirit in an attempt for a seventh Kentucky Derby victory from 34 starts. That would make the Hall of Fame conditioner the winningest trainer in Derby history. Baffert is currently tied with another Hall of Famer, Ben Jones, who won six Derbies from 11 starters. (Read more about “Plain Ben” Jones here.)
At the other end of the spectrum is Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who has the unfortunate distinction of saddling the most Kentucky Derby starters – 21 – without a victory. He will be represented by Midnight Bourbon and Souper Stock.
John Velazquez is the winningest Derby jockey among this year’s riders, with three from 22 mounts. He’ll ride Medina Spirit. Javier Castellano, who rides Highly Motivated for trainer Chad Brown, has the most Derby mounts without a victory among active riders. Dating back to 2005, Castellano carries an 0-for-14 record into this year’s Derby dating
Sixteen of the 19 runners were bred in Kentucky, with the other three Florida-breds.
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