Amid a sea of 170,000 spectators, a 20-deep thoroughbred field will line up for a shot at horse racing history at the 142nd Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
One year removed from American Pharoah’s blazing Triple Crown run, each contender and their connections hope to kickstart their hopes of achieving horse racing’s biggest prize.
The field is led by Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill’s Nyquist, a 3-year-old colt and son of Uncle Mo who’s riding a seven-race winning streak after wrappng up the Florida Derby at Gulftream and stands as a 2-1 favorite just hours before the race.
But unlike American Pharoah, who was an overwhelming 5-2 favorite before entering the gate, a Nyquist victory out of the No. 13 post isn’t viewed as a foregone conclusion.
A number of worthy challengers with solid previous victories and rich pedigrees stand in Nyquist’s way. No. 11 Exaggerator (5-1 odds), No. 5 Gun Runner (9-1), No. 17 Mor Spirit (11-1), No. 14 Mohaymen (12-1), No. 3 Creator (16-1), and No. 19 Brody’s Cause (16-1) have all caught the eye of the betting public and horse racing experts.
Trainer Bob Baffert, who sewed up the first jewel of the Triple Crown with American Pharoah last year, will send out Mor Spirit. The Eskendereya three-year-old ridgeling has posted consecutive runners-up finishes at the Santa Anita Derby and San Felipe Stakes, and in has never finished worse than second in seven career starts. He also appears ready for Churchill Downs 1 1/4-mile track with six straight starts of a mile or longer.
And, unlike many previous years, Nyquist will have to fend off a packed-to-the-brim field. All 20 entrants in this year’s field are expected to head to the starting gate at post time with no scratches registered prior to Friday’s 9 a.m. deadline.
The maximum allowable field has also pushed the guaranteed purse to more than $2.3 million. The victor’s connections will collect $1,631,600, with second earning $400,000, third $200,000, fourth $100,000, and fifth $60,000.
Start Time: Full coverage begins at 4 p.m. EDT, with the race scheduled to begin around 6:30 p.m.
TV Channel: NBC
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra