By US Racing TEAM
If the 149thKentucky Derby (G1) on Saturday goes the way the post-position draw did for Todd Pletcher, the Hall of Fame trainer has a strong chance to end up with his third victory in the Run for the Roses.
Pletcher will send out three horses in a full field of 20 3-year-olds entered on Monday (May 1) for the first leg of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs. All three drew favorable posts and are among the top seven betting choices on the morning line.
Todd’s squad sets up like this:
Florida Derby (G1) winner Forte is the 3-1 morning-line favorite and drew post 15 with Irad Ortiz, Jr. aboard. Gate 15 has produced six winners from 61 starters (9.8%).
Blue Grass (G1) winner Tapit Trice is the 5-1 second choice and drew the No. 5 post – the post that has produced the most Derby winners (10 from 93 starters, 10.8%), including Pletcher’s 2017 winner Always Dreaming. Luis Saez rides Tapit Trice.
Louisiana Derby hero (G2) Kingsbarns – the only unbeaten horse in the race at 3-0 – is 12-1 and will break from post 6 with Jose Ortiz aboard.
“I’m good with all of them. Good draws. We’re very happy it,” Pletcher said.
Trainer Brad Cox, on the other hand, did not have the best draw in the world for his four starters: Wood Memorial (G2) runner-up Hit Show drew the dreaded rail and is 30-1; Blue Grass runner-up Verifying leaves from the No. 2 post and is 15-1; Jace’s Road, third in the Louisiana Derby, drew the No. 12 post and is 15-1; and Cox’s best chance, Arkansas Derby (G1) winner Angel of Empire, drew the No. 14 post and is the third choice at 8-1.
The last horse to win breaking from the rail was Ferdinand in 1986.
“Hit show, it’s OK. We’ll live with it. We have to,’’ Cox said. “Manny (Franco) is obviously going to have to work out a trip from down in there. Same thing with Verifying (and Tyler Gaffalione). Both riders are going to have to find a way into the first turn. Verifying has a little more speed than Hit Show.
“Angel of Empire, I think it’s a good draw. (Jockey) Flavien (Prat) will be able to break running and get a good spot mid-pack. That’s what I’m envisioning. Jace’s Road will probably be more forwardly placed as opposed to Angel of Empire. Hopefully, he can get himself up into the mix.”
Post time for the 1 ¼-mile Derby is 6:57 p.m. ET and will be televised by NBC Sports. The winner’s share of the $3 million purse is $1.86 million.
West Coast-based Tim Yakteen will saddle two horses, Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Practical Move (10-1), a colt he’s trained from the start, and 50-1 Reincarnate, a colt he now trains for Bob Baffert, who remains suspended from Churchill Downs following the medication violation that led to Medina Spirit being disqualified after finishing first in the 2021 Derby.
Japan’s top entry is UAE Derby (G2) winner Derma Sotogake, who is 10-1 and drew the No. 17 post – the only post that has not produced a Derby winner (0-for-43). Continuar, the other Japan-based entry, is 50-1 leaving from the outside No. 20 post.
Also entered are Two Phil’s (12-1), Confidence Game (20-1), Mage (15-1), Skinner (20-1), Disarm (30-1), Sun Thunder (50-1), Raise Cain (50-1), Rocket Can (30-1), and Lord Miles (30-1).
There are three also-eligibles in case of late scratches. Cyclone Mischief is the first AE at 30-1, followed by Mandarin Hero (20-1), and King Russell (50-1).
While this Derby sets up well for several of the top horses, let us not forget how wild and crazy the past five editions have turned out.
Last year, last-minute entry Rich Strike won at 80-1 odds – the second-longest shot in Derby history; in 2021, Baffert’s Medina Spirit finished first, but was DQ’d for a race-day medication with the Cox-trained runner-up Mandaloun declared the winner.
In 2020, the Derby was run in September due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Baffert’s Authentic won, giving the Hall of Famer a record-tying sixth Derby win.
In 2019, Maximum Security finished first, but was disqualified to 17th for interference in the stretch — the first DQ in Derby history for an on-track violation.
And, in 2018, it was Baffert’s Justify who became the 13th Triple Crown winner, sweeping the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
The field was also drawn for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1). The morning-line favorite is Cox-trained Wet Paint at 5-2. Fourteen fillies were entered.
|1||Hit Show||Franco||Brad H. Cox||West, Gary and Mary||30-1|
|2||Verifying||Gaffalione||Brad H. Cox||Poulin, Jonathan, Westerberg, Magnier, Mrs. John, Smith, Derrick and Tabor, Michael B.||15-1|
|3||Two Phil’s||Loveberry||Larry Rivelli||Patricia’s Hope LLC and Sagan, Phillip||12-1|
|4||Conficence Game||Graham||J. Keith Desormeaux||Don’t Tell My Wife Stables||20-1|
|5||Tapit Trice||Saez||Todd A. Pletcher||Whisper Hill Farm, LLC and Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck)||5-1|
|6||Kinkngbarns||J. Ortiz||Todd A. Pletcher||Spendthrift Farm LLC||12-1|
|7||Reincartnate||Velazquez||Tim Yakteen||SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Masterson, Robert E., Stonestreet Stables LLC, Schoenfarber, Jay A., Waves Edge Capital LLC and Donovan, Catherine||50-1|
|8||Mage||Castellano||Gustavo Delgado||OGMA Investments, LLC, Restrepo, Ramiro, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH||15-1|
|SCR||Skinner||Hernandez||John A. Shirreffs||C R K Stable||20-1|
|SCR||Practical Move||Vazquez||Tim Yakteen||Amestoy, Jr., Pierre Jean, Amestoy, Leslie A. and Beasley, Roger K.||SCR|
|9||Disarm||Rosario||Steven M. Asmussen||Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC||30/1|
|10||Jace’s Road||Geroux||Brad H. Cox||West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables LLC||15-1|
|11||Sun Thunder||Hernandez Jr||Kenneth G. McPeek||R.T Racing Stable and Cypress Creek Equine||30-1|
|12||Angel Of Empire||Prat||Brad H. Cox||Albaugh Family Stables LLC||8-1|
|13||Forte||I. Ortiz JR.||Todd A. Pletcher||Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable||3-1|
|14||Raise Can||Corrales||Ben Colebrook||Warren, Andrew and Warren, Rania||15-1|
|15||Derma Sotogake||Lemaire||Hidetaka Otonashi||Hiroyuki Asanuma||10-1|
|16||Rocket Can||Alvarado||William I. Mott||Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, Inc.||15-1|
|SCR||Lord Miles||Lopez||Todd A. Pletcher||Vegso Racing Stable||30-1|
|17||Continuar||Sakai||Yoshito Yahagi||Lion Race Horse Co. Ltd.||50-1|
|18||Cyclone Mischief||J. Rosario||D. Romans||Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Castleton Lyons.||30-1|
|19||Mandarin Hero||Kazushi Kimura||Terunobu Fujita||Hiroaki Arai.||20-1|
|20||King Russell||Rafael Bejarano||Ron Moquett||Jones, Brereton C. and Naber Racing, LLC||50-1|
The writing team at US Racing is comprised of both full-time and part-time contributors with expertise in various aspects of the Sport of Kings.