We’re only a few days away from the fastest two minutes in sports. Coming off the high of a Triple Crown buzz, the Kentucky Derby has plenty of intriguing storylines leading into Saturday’s 145th running for the roses.
1. Will a Favorite Win Again?
Since the adoption of the Kentucky Derby prep race points system in 2013, the morning line favorite has won every single Kentucky Derby. Favorites win about 30% of the time in any given horse race, making this six-year streak of favorites an exception to the rule.
Things are a little different this year. Tacitus finished the prep race season in first place of the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings, but Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes winner Omaha Beach will likely be the morning line favorite.
Aside from the top two contenders, there’s a group of talented horses in the middle of the pack — Code of Honor, War of Will, Haikal, Game Winner — that could win the Derby at high price tag if the race unfolds the right way.
2. Baffert’s Shot at History
After a 38-year Triple Crown drought, Bob Baffert has won two in the last four years. Now with five Kentucky Derby victories, he needs only one more to tie legendary trainer Ben Jones for the most all-time.
3. First Timers
While Baffert draws most of the attention, a pair of Hall of Fame trainers and Breeders’ Cup winners are seeking their first victory in the Kentucky Derby.
In 1998 Bill Mott became the youngest trainer ever inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame for transforming Cigar into a champion. This year he’ll try to win his first Derby with Tacitus. Richard Mandella has ran six horses in the Derby, but none of them have brought the pedigree Omaha Beach is bringing to Churchill Downs in 2019.
4. A Toast to John Asher
The longtime director of communications at Churchill Downs passed away suddenly last summer. The first Derby without the face of Churchill Downs, the week will be filled with tributes for Mr. Asher. Yesterday Central Avenue between 4th Street and Taylor Blvd. was renamed in his honor.