Kentucky Derby 2020 Odds: Horse Profiles

Kentucky Derby: Profiles of the 18 Derby Horses

By Ed McNamara and Richard Rosenblatt

The field is set for the 146th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

Tiz the Law, the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers (G1) winner, is the prohibitive 3-5 morning-line favorite by track oddsmaker Mike Battaglia on Tuesday. Honor A.P., winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1), is the second choice at 5-1 in a field of 18. Authentic, winner of the Haskell (G1), is the third choice at 8-1. The top three choices leave form the three outside posts – Honor A.P. (16), Tiz the Law (17) and Authentic (18).

Shedaresthedevil Horse

Shedaresthedevil – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

“I like being on the outside, I didn’t particularly want to be out that far but he seems to handle everything that’s thrown at him so we’ll just have to leave it up to him,’’ Tiz the Law trainer Barclay Tagg said. “It gives you a chance, if you have any speed at all, it gives you a chance to get a better position.”

The No. 17 post has been most unlucky, producing zero winners from 41 starters. Last year, Spinoff finished 18th from the No. 17 post.

Just before the draw, Blue Grass (2) winner Art Collector was not entered after sustaining a minor foot injury; he was considered a top contender. . Also, South Bend was a late entry and is one of eight horses listed at 50-1 odds.

Five-time Derby winner Bob Baffert has two horses in the field, Authentic and Thousand Words (15-1), as he seeks a record-equaling sixth victory in the Run for the Roses.

The 2020 Derby is the second leg of the Triple Crown instead of the first. The Belmont, traditionally the final leg, was run on June 20. The Preakness (G1) will be the final leg, on Oct. 5.

Below are updated profiles of the 18 horses scheduled to run, listed by post position:

1. FINNICK THE FIERCE

Trivia question: Who’s the only horse in the Derby field to finish ahead of Tiz the Law?

It’s Finnick the Fierce, the one-eyed gelding who was 87-1 when he edged the superstar by a head for second last fall in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs.

Don’t expect that to happen Sept. 5. “Finnick” is gritty and easy to root for, but he hasn’t finished first in his last eight races, although he was moved up from second to first in an allowance/optional claimer on April fourth after Winning Impression was DQ’d.  on April 4). In his previous ran, he was seventh in the Blue Grass.

The streak won’t end in the Derby.

Odds: 50-1

Post position: 1

Jockey: Martin Garcia

Trainer: Rey Hernandez

Owner: Arnaldo Monge, Rey Hernandez

Career record: 9-2-1-2

Career earnings: $191,200

Top Equibase speed figure: 99

Kentucky Derby points: 25 (17th)

Pedigree: Dialed In-Southern Classic, by Southern Image

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Mid-pack rallier

Notes: Finnick’s right eye was removed shortly after birth due to a congenital cataract, but Dr. Arnaldo Monge, the veterinarian who made the diagnosis, still purchased him for $3,000; trainer Rey Hernandez is co-owner …  This will be Hernandez’s first Derby starter in his sixth year as a trainer  … Garcia will be competing in his fifth Derby. His best finish was third with Bob Baffert-trained Dortmund in 2015.

2. MAX PLAYER

A grinder, Max Player ran respectable thirds in the Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers (G1) while never looking like he could win either race, beaten by a total of 12 3/4 lengths.

Strength is his stamina; weakness is lack of speed and acceleration.

Switched from Linda Rice to Steve Asmussen, who despite more than 8,950 wins is a record 0-for-20 in the race every trainer wants most.

Never off the board in five races, Max Player is a must-use underneath in trifectas and superfectas. Can’t imagine him winning.

After breaking his maiden at Parx in his second start, the colt won the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct on Feb. 1, with his next start the Belmont 4 ½ months later.

Worked twice at Churchill Downs for Asmussen, most recently on Aug. 24, going 5 furlongs in 59.60 seconds, second fastest of 48 at the distance.

Odds: 30-1

Post position: 2

Max Player Horse

Max Player – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Jockey: Ricardo Santana, Jr.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Owners: George Hall, Sportbix Thoroughbreds

Career record: 5-2-1-2

Career earnings: $373,500

Top Equibase speed figure: 105

Kentucky Derby points: 60 (9th)

Pedigree: Honor Code-Fools in Love, by Not for Love

Color: Dark bay

Running style: Closer

Notes: This is really Linda Rice’s horse, but Asmussen is listed as the official trainer for the Derby (change was made due to Rice’s training commitments in New York) … Hall of Famer Asmussen is looking for his first Derby win (20-0-2-2) … Only five other trainers have had more starters than Asmussen, and all have at least two Derby wins on their resume … His two runner-up finishes were Nehro (2011) and Lookin at Lee (2017) … Ricardo Santana, Jr., is Asmussen’s go-to rider; this will be his sixth Derby – his best finish was eighth with Plus Que Parfait in 2019 … Had his best year in 2019, with 190 victories and more than $16 million in purses earnings (won Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Sprint aboard Mitole in 2019).

3. ENFORCEABLE

A deep closer, Lecomte (G3) winner Enforceable made a big run to be second despite serious traffic problems in a division of the Risen Star (G2) at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans in February.

That move raised hopes that haven’t come close to being realized. Since then, he was fifth (Grade 2 Louisiana Derby) and fourth (Grade 2 Blue Grass), beaten 14 1/4 lengths.

More negatives: Weak speed figures, two slow starts, 1-for-6 in stakes, 0-for-3 at Churchill.

His best-case scenario: Capitalize on a very fast pace and plod up for third or fourth.

On Saturday, Enforceable worked 4 furlongs in 49.60 seconds at Churchill Downs in his final Derby breeze under jockey Adam Beschizza. It was his sixth workout since the Blue Grass on July 11.

Trainer Mark Casse feels like Enforceable is capable of a big day.

“I think he is really improving at this stage of his career,” Casse said after the workout. “He’s maturing; he’s ready to go. I thought he looked super …  “If you said to me three months ago you could have him where he is today and you’d be in the position you’re in, I would have taken it. I just think he’s at the top of his game right now. That’s all you can ask for.”

Odds: 30-1

Post position: 3

Jockey: Adam Beschizza

Enforceable

Enforceable – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Trainer: Mark Casse

Owner: John Oxley

Career record: 10-2-2-2

Career earnings: $397,150

Top Equibase speed figure: 97

Kentucky Derby points: 43 (11th)

Pedigree: Tapit-Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union

Color: Gray/roan

Running style: Deep closer

Notes: Casse was recently elected to racing’s Hall of Fame, timely since in 2019 he won his first two Triple Crown races – the Preakness (G1) with War of Will and the Belmont Stakes (G1) with Sir Winston … This will be Casse’s seventh Derby and eighth starter – his best result was a fourth with Classic Empire in 2017 … He’s an 11-time winner of the Sovereign Award as Canada’s top trainer … Since 2015, he’s been ranked among the top 6 trainers in purse earnings … Among his other top horses: Tepin, World Approval, Wonder Gadot, and Got Stormy … Adam Beschizza makes his Derby debut … From England, he made his first U.S. start in 2015; returned in 2017 to become a regular at the Fair Grounds, and now rides in Kentucky … John Oxley is looking for his second Derby winner – he owned 2001 winner Monarchos. This will be his eighth Derby starter.

4. STORM THE COURT

Storm the Court is 0-for-5 in 2020 after earning the 2-year-old male Eclipse Award with a 45-1 shocker in what has proved to be a historically weak Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1).

His two wins were on or near the lead, and he’s not fast enough to be a major pace factor in the Derby. He’s in way over his head.

In his last start, he ran second in the La Jolla Handicap (G3) on Aug. 9, a 1 1/16th-mile race on the Del Mar turf.

Storm the Court posted his final work before the Derby on Aug. 29, working 6 furlongs in 1:12.80 at Del Mar, second fastest of five at the distance.

Odds: 50-1

Post position: 4

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Trainer: Peter Eurton

Owner: David A. Bernsen, Exline-Border Racing LLC, Dan Hudock and Susanna Wilson

Career record: 9-2-1-3

Career earnings: $1,310,451

Top Equibase speed figure: 106

Kentucky Derby points: 36 (14th)

Pedigree: Court Vision-My Tejana Storm, by Tejano Run

Color: Bay

Running style: Front-runner

Notes: Julien Leparoux rides the 2-year-old champion for the first time … Leparoux is 0-for-11 in the Derby; his best finish was fourth with Classic Empire in 2017 … He has won more than 2,700 races in a career that began in 2005 and was voted Eclipse Award winner as top jockey in 2009 … Peter Eurton is sending out his second Derby starter; his Dance With Fate was sixth in 2014.

5. MAJOR FED

Closer is 1-for-6 lifetime, 0-for-4 in stakes, with his career highlight a close second to Modernist (division of G2 Risen Star), who wasn’t good enough to make the Derby.

Runner-up finish behind the so-so Shared Sense in a weak Indiana Derby earned Major Fed enough points to qualify for the big race.

Pedigree says he’ll handle 1 1/4 miles better than most, but his speed figures say it will take him too long. Toss him out unless you’re seeking horses who might plod up for fourth in the superfecta.

Worked 5 furlongs in 59.00 seconds at Churchill Downs on Aug. 28, the fastest of 36 at the distance.

Odds: 50-1

Post position: 5

Jockey: James Graham

Major Fed

Major Fed – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Trainer: Greg Foley

Owner: Lloyd Madison Farms, IV LLC

Career record: 6-1-2-1

Career earnings: $215,600

Top Equibase speed figure: 96

Kentucky Derby points: 38 (13th)

Pedigree: Ghostzapper-Bobby’s Babe, by Smart Strike

Color: Dark bay

Running style: Closer

Notes: This will be James Graham’s second Derby; he finished eighth aboard Lone Sailor in 2018 …Irishman rides mainly in Kentucky and Louisiana, with a career total of more than 2,600 victories … Louisville-based Greg Foley decided to skip Ellis Park Derby with his horse, so Major Fed comes in off a two-month layoff … Set to saddle his first Derby starter, Foley sounds confident about his chances, especially after the colt’s most recent workout.

6. KING GUILLERMO

Ran a solid second, beaten three lengths, May 2 in the split Arkansas Derby (G1) behind Bob Baffert’s Nadal, who at the time was rated up there with Tiz the Law.

The problem is that King Guillermo hasn’t run since, and winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) off a four-month layoff would be a monumental achievement.

The colt, owned by former major-leaguer Victor Martinez, has talent, but going in without a prep makes him an automatic throw out for me.

Nonetheless, he’s been thriving since he arrived at Churchill Downs, working 5 furlongs under 1:00 in his previous two drills. Most recently, he covered the distance in 58.20 seconds on Aug. 22, fastest of 40 at the distance.

“I think he’s really enjoying being in Kentucky,” trainer Juan Avila said recently. “We’re very happy with how he’s taken to the track and his workouts the last two weeks.”

Odds: 20-1

Post position: 6

Jockey: Samy Camacho

Trainer: Juan Carlos Avila

King Guillermo Horse

King Guillermo – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Owner: Victoria Ranch

Career record: 5-2-1-1

Career earnings: $340,350

Top Equibase speed figure: 110

Kentucky Derby points: 90 (6th)

Pedigree: Uncle Mo-Slow Sand, by Dixieland Band

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notes: One of the better Derby stories, with a colt owned by a former MLB star and coming into the race after a fourth-month layoff … Won the Tampa Bay Derby prior to his runner-up finish in a division of the Arkansas Derby … Avila emigrated to the U.S from Venezuela in 2018, and King Guillermo is his best horse … Will be first Derby the colt’s connections – Avila, jockey Samy Camacho, and owner Victor Martine, a five-time All-Star who played for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, and Detroit Tigers in a 17-year career ending in 2018.

7. MONEY MOVES

Money Moves is a neck from being unbeaten in his first three career races.

Unfortunately, he just lost in an $62,500 optional claimer, and he couldn’t be taking a bigger class jump. His speed figures are promising and he has a nice distance pedigree, but this looks like a classic case of too much, too soon.

He has the makings of a nice horse, and going 1 1/4 miles in a huge field could set him back.

Nonetheless, Todd Pletcher, who has sent out more Derby starters than anyone (54 heading into Derby 146 on Saturday), believes the colt deserves a chance in a most unusual year.

On Aug. 28, Money Moves worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.14 at Saratoga.

“The horse ran well last time and he’s been training sharply,’’ Pletcher said, referring to that runner-up finish in the optional claimer on July 25 at Saratoga. “I felt like this is an opportunity that you don’t get very often, so we’re taking a shot.”

Odds: 30-1

Post position: 7

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owners: Robert LaPenta, Bortolazzo Stable

Career record: 3-2-1-0

Career earnings: $67,400

Top Equibase speed figure: 109

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Candy Ride-Citizen Advocate, by Proud Citizen

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notes: This will be the ninth Derby starter for co-owner Robert LaPenta and the first for partner Jerry Bortolazzo … LaPenta’s best Derby finish was with Ice Box, a late-closing second to Super Saver (trained by Pletcher) in 2010 … Money Moves was purchased for $975,000 from the OBS 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale last April … Pletcher is a two-time Derby winner, Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017 … Castellano is an unlucky 0-for-13 in the Derby, his best finish a third place aboard Audible in 2018.

8. SOUTH BEND

This late entry and fellow 50-1 shot Necker Island are the only horses in the field with two wins at Churchill.

Unfortunately for South Bend, he’s lost nine in a row (eight this year) after starting his career 3-for-3.

He made slight improvement in his last two starts (a distant fourth in the Travers, a close second in a weak Ohio Derby), but it would be a big surprise if he could even finish fourth on Saturday.

In the money three times in grass stakes (0-for-5), so he would have had a much better chance in the American Turf on the Derby undercard. No chance to win; best-case scenario is he plods into the bottom half of the superfecta.

Odds: 50-1

Post position: 8

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Trainer: Bill Mott

Owners: Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, Peter Deutsch and Pantofel Stable

Career record: 12-3-2-2

Career earnings: $390,114

Top Equibase speed figure: 103

Kentucky Derby points: 18

Pedigree: Algorithms-Sandra’s Rose, by Old Trieste

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notes: Gaffalione is a rising star and one of the country’s better young riders. He worked out a great trip while winning last year’s Preakness on War of Will, and they might have been close in the Derby if not for a nearly disastrous incident that led to the disqualification of Maximum Security … Hall of Famer Mott finally got his Derby trophy thanks to that DQ, which handed the victory to 65-1 shot Country House … South Bend ran 11 times for Stanley Hough before being moved to Mott’s stable prior to the Travers.

9. MR. BIG NEWS

This deep closer with no Derby points will be one of the longest shots in the 18-horse field. His best race this year was a 46-1 upset April 11 on an off track in the Oaklawn Stakes.

If you like to put $2 on every Derby horse who’s 20-1 or higher, you’ll be hoping for rain and rooting for Mr. Big News.

Owner Chester Thomas announced Monday that he would reroute his colt from the American Turf Stakes on the Derby undercard to the big race.

Mr. Big News’ last two workouts were on grass. Trainer Bret Calhoun said they’d been “keeping their options open,” adding that he thought Thomas “had a bad case of Derby fever the last couple days.”

On the plus side, Mr. Big News’ pedigree suggests that 1¼ miles should be less of a problem for him than for many of his opponents.

Odds: 50-1

Post position: 9

Jockey: Gabriel Saez

Trainer: Bret Calhoun

Owner: Allied Family Stables

Career record: 7-2-1-0

Career earnings: $168,553

Top Equibase speed figure: 96

Kentucky Derby points: 0

Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway-Unappeased, by Galileo

Color: Bay

Running style: Deep closer

Notes: Gabriel Saez, 32, is an older cousin of Luis Saez, who finished first on Maximum Security in last year’s Derby but was disqualified for interference … In the 2008 Derby, Gabriel Saez rode the filly Eight Belles to a runner-up finish behind Big Brown. While galloping out, Eight Belles fractured her front ankles and had to be euthanized on the track … This will be Bret Calhoun’s second Derby starter – his first was in 2019, with By My Standards (11th).

10. THOUSAND WORDS

Made a surprising jump back onto the Derby trail with his front-running upset of Honor A.P. in the 1 1/16-mile Shared Belief.

After Thousand Words lost three straight by a total of 44 lengths, trainer Bob Baffert said Thousand Words got his mojo back.

He was 3-for-3 lifetime before the slump. Problem: He’s 0-for-2 at 1 1/8 miles, including a four-length loss to stablemate Uncle Chuck, whom Tiz the Law blew away in the Travers.

Likely to fade after a mile or so. Don’t bet on him.

Odds: 15-1

Post position: 10

Thousand Words Horse

Thousand Words – Photo Courtesy of Santa Anita

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables LLC, Spendthrift Farm LLC

Career record: 7-4-1-0

Career earnings: $327,000

Top Equibase speed figure: 107

Kentucky Derby points: 83 (7th)

Pedigree: PioneerOf the Nile-Pomeroys by Pistol-Pomeroy

Color: Bay

Running style: Front-runner/stalker

Notes: Baffert is going for a record-equaling sixth Derby victory (he also sends out Authentic). Ben “Plain Ben” Jones won six – from 1938-1952 … Baffert has saddled 32 Derby starters previously – third on the trainer’s list behind Todd Pletcher and D. Wayne Lukas … Florent Geroux will be aboard Thousand Words for the first time; he will be riding in his fifth Derby (his best finish was aboard Gun Runner, who was third in 2014).

11. NECKER ISLAND

Why go to the Derby with a horse who’s lost seven in a row by an average of nearly nine lengths and is 0-for-6 in stakes? Only if your lifetime dream is to see your silks in the post parade as they play “My Old Kentucky Home.”

Necker Island won twice last year at Churchill Downs, his home track, but that’s about it for the positives. This vanity entry belongs in an allowance race, not a classic. No chance.

Odds: 50-1

Post position: 11

Jockey: Miguel Mena

Trainer: Chris Hartman

Owners: Jackie Rojas, Raymond Daniels, Wayne Scherr

Career record: 10-2-0-3

Career earnings: $199,730

Top Equibase speed figure: 99

Kentucky Derby points: 14 (19th)

Pedigree: Hard Spun-Jenny’s Rocket, by Mr. Greeley

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Closer

Notes: Necker Island picked up his Derby points with third-place finishes in the Indiana Derby (4) and the Ellis Park Derby (10) … The colt was claimed for $100,000 in May … This will be Mena’s second Derby – in 2010 he finished 20th aboard Backtalk … He’s been riding since 2003 and has won more than 2,000 races, among them a victory aboard Tom’s d’Etat in the Stephen Foster in June … Hartman, a Midwest-based journeyman who has been training since 1992, is saddling his first Derby starter.

12. SOLE VOLANTE

Forgive his sixth-place dud in the Belmont Stakes (G1), because Sole Volante was coming back in only 10 days for his second start off a three-month break.

That was his first off-the-board finish in seven career starts. It also was his first time beyond 1 1/16 miles, and you have to wonder whether he can produce his strong closing kick going 10 furlongs.

Never beaten top 3-year-olds on dirt, so the Derby is a major ask. Won’t win, but gelding has an outside chance to inflate the superfecta payoff.

Plans call for horse to arrive on Sunday by van from Florida after prepping for Derby at Palm Meadows Training Center. His last posted workout was Aug. 18 – a mile on turf in 1:39.00.

Odds: 30-1

Post position: 12

Jockey: Luca Panici

Sole Volante Horse

Sole Volante – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Trainer: Patrick Biancone

Owners: Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone

Career record: 7-4-1-1

Career earnings: $323,310

Top Equibase speed figure: 109

Kentucky Derby points: 30 (16th)

Pedigree: Karakontie-Light Blow, by Kingmambo

Color: Bay

Running style: Closer

Notes: Italian Luca Panici sustained two broken ribs in a spill at Gulfstream Park in April, but has been back aboard Sole Volante his last two starts, winning an allowance optional claimer before finished off-the-board in the Belmont … Veteran has been riding in the U.S. on a consistent basis since 2005 and has won nearly 700 races from nearly 7,300 starts … This will be his first Derby … Frenchman Biancone’s best Derby finish was third with Lion Heart in 2004 (the horse later won the Haskell) … Earlier this year, the 68-year-old trainer said he was cancer-free after having his left kidney removed … in 2007, Biancone was at the center of an investigation by the Kentucky Horse Racing Authority involving the use of cobra venom, a banned neurotoxin that can relieve pain in a joint or nerve. He was suspended for a year, later reduced to six months … This will be Biancone’s fourth Derby starter … Reeves Thoroughbred Racing is Dean and Patti Reeves, owners of 2013 BC Classic winner Mucho Macho Man, who was third in the 2011 Derby … Andie Biancone’s 22nd birthday present from her dad last April was ownership of Sole Volante.

13. ATTACHMENT RATE

Louisville native Dale Romans grew up in his father’s barn at Churchill Downs.

Winning the Derby has been a lifelong dream that hasn’t come true for an outstanding trainer, and I doubt this will be Romans’ year.

Attachment Rate, pure and simple, is a well-bred disappointment. He’s 0-for-7 on fast tracks and 0-for-2 at his base, Churchill. Most of his races were respectable, such as his latest, second to Art Collector in the Ellis Park Derby.

Speed figures are weak, and he needs a quantum leap to contend. I don’t see it happening.

Odds: 50-1

Post position: 13

Jockey: Joe Talamo

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner:  Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister

Career record: 8-1-3-1

Career earnings: $143,732

Top Equibase speed figure: 99

Kentucky Derby points: 35 (15th)

Pedigree: Hard Spun-Aristra, by Afleet Alex

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Mid-pack rallier

Notes: This will be Dale Romans’ 10th Derby and 11th starter – he had two in 2018 (Promises Fulfilled, 15th; Free Drop Billy, 16th) … His best results were a pair of thirds — Paddy O’ Prado in 2010 and Dullahan in 2012 … Joe Talamo will be riding in his third Derby, with no success previously – 17th in 2010 with Sidney’s Candy and 16th in 2015 with War Story … Talamo left the SoCal circuit for the Arkansas, Kentucky circuit in late 2019 … He’s won over 2,000 races in a career that began in 2006; his biggest win this year was aboard Serengeti Empress in the Azeri Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park back in March.

14. WINNING IMPRESSION

He’s 0-for-6 this year, beaten by an average of 11 lengths in three stakes, and 0-for-7 on fast tracks.

So, why is he running in the country’s most prestigious race? Well, Dallas Stewart ran second with back-to-back long shots in the Derby — Golden Soul (34-1, 2013) and Commanding Curve (37-1, 2014) — but if this struggling gelding did that, it would be a miracle.

Won’t happen.

He ran seventh in his two most recent starts, the Indiana Derby (G3) on July 8 and the Ellis Park Derby on Aug. 9. At least he had a decent workout — 4 furlongs in 48.40 seconds at Churchill Downs on Aug 21 – sixth fastest of 46 at the distance.

Odds: 50-1

Post position: 14

Winning Impression Horse

Winning Impression – Courtesy of Churchill Downs/Coady Photography.

Jockey: Joe Rocco, Jr.

Trainer: Dallas Stewart

Owner: West Point Thoroughbreds, Pearl Racing

Career record: 9-1-1-2

Career earnings: $98,552

Top Equibase speed figure: 92

Kentucky Derby points: 20 (18th)

Pedigree: Paynter-Unbridled Sonya, by Unbridled’s Song

Color: Gray/roan

Running style: Closer

Notes: Joe Rocco, Jr., rode in one Derby previously, finishing 17th aboard Vinceremos in 2014; Dallas Stewart returns with a Derby starter for the sixth time, his first Derby starter was Kimberlite Pipe (sixth) in 1999, and his most recent starter was Tom’s Ready (12th) in 2016

15. Ny TRAFFIC

He’s 4-for-4 (three seconds) in the money in stakes this year, so he’s an owner’s dream.

At 0-for-4, he torments win bettors. Ny Traffic belongs in top company – he was nosed out by Authentic in the Haskell (G1) and was a close second to sidelined standouts Wells Bayou and Maxfield.

Still, I can’t visualize a breakthrough in the Derby. I see him contesting the pace with his characteristic grit and just failing short again. You can’t leave him out of exotics, but you can’t play him to win.

Most recent workout was Aug. 20 at Saratoga – 5 furlongs in 59.03 seconds, second fastest of 25 at the distance.

Odds: 20-1

Post position: 15

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.

Owners: John Fanelli, Cash Is King LLC, LC Racing, Paul Braverman

Career record: 9-2-3-2

Career earnings: $565,470

Top Equibase speed figure: 109

Kentucky Derby points: 110 (5th)

Pedigree: Cross Traffic-Mamie Reilly, by Graeme Hall

Color: Gray

Running style: Front-runner/stalker

Notes: A trainer since 2011 based in Florida, Joseph saddled his first Grade 1 winner in 2019 when Math Wizard won the Pennsylvania Derby at odds of 31-1 … This will be Joseph’s first Derby starter … Paco Lopez retains the mount, and will be riding in his second Derby. In 2018, he finished 11th aboard Firenze Fire … Co-owner Chuck Zacney’s Cash Is King owned Afleet Alex, who won the 2005.

16. HONOR A.P.

The Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner looks like one of the few who’s capable of upsetting Tiz the Law.

Honor A.P. jockey Mike Smith tells us: “I have a legitimate chance. I think my horse is good enough to win if he brings his ‘A’ game.” A brilliant workout on Aug. 15 at Del Mar (5 furlongs in 59.40 with a powerful gallop-out) improved his case.

To Smith, the loss to Thousand Words in the 1 1/16-mile Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 1 is a throw-out because the distance was too short and because Honor A.P. wasn’t fully cranked up. His pedigree says 1 1/4 miles should be no problem, and he deserves serious consideration as an alternative to the heavy favorite.

Worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.20 at Del Mar on Aug. 22, eighth fastest of 74 at the distance. One more work before heading to Churchill Downs on Monday.

Odds: 5-1

Post position: 16

Honor A.P.

Honor A.P. – Photo Courtesy of
©Benoit Photo

Jockey: Mike Smith

Trainer: John Shirreffs

Owner: C R K Stable

Career record: 5-2-3-0

Career earnings: $382,200

Top Equibase speed figure: 106

Kentucky Derby points: 140 (4th)

Pedigree: Honor Code-Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush

Color: Dark bay

Running style: Stalker

Notes: This will be the fifth Derby starter for Shirreffs, who sent out Giacomo (Smith was aboard) to win the 2005 Run for the Roses at odds of 50-1 – among the biggest upsets in the history of the race … Hall of Famer Smith will be riding in a record-equaling 26th Derby – matching the mark held by the great Bill Shoemaker, a four-time Derby winner; Smith has two Derby wins, Giacomo in 2005 and Justify in 2018 … Owner C R K Stable (Lee and Susan Searing) had one previous Derby starter, Candy Boy (13th, 2004).

17. TIZ THE LAW

Like a jaguar, Tiz the Law stalks patiently before his instant acceleration eliminates his prey. This New York-bred win machine is expected to be the first odds-on Derby favorite since Arazi in 1992.

He’s 4-for-4 this year – Holy Bull (G3), Florida Derby (G1), Belmont Stakes (G1), Travers (G1) – by an average margin of four lengths, and jockey Manny Franco still hasn’t had to ask him for his best.

Tiz the Law would be undefeated if not for a bad-trip third in a rainstorm last November at Churchill Downs, where he lost by less than a length. Eventually, he’ll run a bad one, but he couldn’t be more intimidating. Just hope that none of the field’s many no-hopers get in this superstar’s way.

On Sunday morning (Aug. 23), he worked 5 furlongs in 59.47 seconds at Saratoga under regular exercise rider Heather Smullen – the fastest of 16 at the same distance.

Odds: 3-5

Tiz the Law winning at Belmont Stakes 2020

Tiz the Law winning at Belmont Stakes 2020 – Photo Courtesy of Chelsea Durand/NYRA

Post position: 17

Jockey: Manny Franco

Trainer: Barclay Tagg

Owner: Sackatoga Stable

Career record: 7-6-0-1

Career earnings: $2,015,300

Top Equibase speed figure: 117

Kentucky Derby points: 372 (1)

Pedigree: Constitution-Tizfiz, by Tiznow

Color: Bay

Running style: Stalker

Notes: Tiz the Law is the first NY bred in 138 years to win the Belmont Stakes … The Sackatoga Stable/Barclay Tagg combo has been together for nearly two decades, and brought us Funny Cide in 2003 — the New York bred gelding who won the Derby and Preakness, but came up short in the Belmont in his bid for a Triple Crown … This will be Tagg’s sixth Derby starter; in addition to winning with Funny Cide, his other runners were Showing Up (sixth in 2006); Nobiz Like Shobiz (10th in 2007); and Tale of Ekati (fourth) and Big Truck (18th), both in 2008 … This will be Manny Franco’s third Derby – he was 17th aboard Tencendur in 2015 and 18th aboard Spinoff in 2019.

18. AUTHENTIC

A need-the-lead type, Authentic is one very fast but immature colt.

He had gate problems in two of his five races, and almost blew the Haskell (G1) after loafing when clear by daylight at the eighth pole. But then again, he’s trained by five-time Derby winner and nine-time Haskell winner Bob Baffert.

Authentic gives the impression that the 1 1/4 miles of the Derby might be too far. He should be in front for as long as he lasts, but with plenty of other speed in the field, he’s likely to be weakening in mid-stretch.

If he’s 5-1 or thereabouts, he’s worth a bet, but I wouldn’t take a shorter price on a probable pace casualty.

Odds: 8-1

Post position: 18

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Bob Baffert

Owners: SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Frederick Hertrich III

Career record: 5-4-1-0

Career earnings: $1,011,200

Top Equibase speed figure: 113

Kentucky Derby points: 200 (2nd)

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Flawless, by Mr. Greeley

Color: Chestnut

Running style: Front-runner

Notes: Baffert comes into this Derby with two chances (Thousand Words is the other) to win a record-equaling sixth Run for the Roses, which would match Ben “Plain Ben” Jones. Baffert’s winners are Silver Charm (1997, Real Quiet 1998), War Emblem (2002), American Pharoah (2015), and Justify (2018) … Coming into this Derby, he’s sent out 32 starters, third most of any trainer (Todd Pletcher is first at 54, D. Wayne Lukas second at 39) … Velazquez picks up the mount after Mike Smith – he’s riding Honor A.P. — was aboard for the narrow Haskell win … Johnny V will be riding in his 22nd Derby, and has won it twice, with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Always Dreaming in 2017 … This will be his 14th consecutive Derby – he rode runner-up Code of Honor in 2019 (elevated from third to second after Maximum Security was DQ’d from first to 17th)

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