LOUISVILLE – SPORT – The first jewel in horse racing’s Triple Crown is the Kentucky Derby. The classic race from historic Churchill Down in Kentucky is the event of the season in the world of racing. The race attracts people from around the world, and a television audience in the millions.
This year’s race features twenty starters and includes four Grade I winners, the purse for the Kentucky Derby will be $2,202,800 with $1,442,800 going to the winner.
The Kentucky Derby will be carried by NBC Sports with a three-hour telecast from 4-7PM EDT.
Steven Coburn and Perry Martin’s California Chrome, winner of four consecutive races by a combined 24 ¼ lengths, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s 140th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) at Churchill Downs.
The Kentucky Derby is the 11th race on Saturday’s 13-race program with a 6:32PM EDT post time. First post time Saturday is 10:30AM EDY.
The weather forecast for Saturday calls for temperatures in the low 70s and a 10 percent chance of showers.
California Chrome, trained by 77-year-old Art Sherman, solidified his status as the favorite for Derby 140 with a 5 ¼-length victory in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) and a 7 ¼-length romp in the San Felipe (GII). He will be the first Kentucky Derby starter for Sherman.
Victor Espinoza, who has been aboard the California-bred colt in his past four starts, has the mount Saturday. Espinoza won the 2002 Kentucky Derby on War Emblem.
The 6-1 second choice is Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s Hoppertunity, one of two colts trained by Bob Baffert that will be in the starting gate.
Runner-up to California Chrome in the Santa Anita Derby in his most recent start, Hoppertunity won the Rebel (GII) and will be ridden by Mike Smith, exiting post position 11.
Smith is seeking a second Derby victory to go with his triumph aboard Giacomo in 2005.
Baffert, a three-time Derby winner with Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002), also is sending out the Tanma Corporation’s Chitu. Winner of the Sunland Derby (GIII), Chitu will break from post position 13 under Martin Garcia.
Third choice on the morning line at 8-1 is Centennial Farms’ Wicked Strong, trained by Jimmy Jerkens.
Winner of the Wood Memorial (GI) in his most recent start, Wicked Strong will be ridden by Rajiv Maragh and break from post position 20.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Danza, the 4 ¾-length winner of the Arkansas Derby (GI) in his most recent start, is the fourth choice at 10-1. Joe Bravo will be aboard and break from post position four.
Danza is one of four runners in the gate for trainer Todd Pletcher, who saddled Super Saver to win the 2010 Kentucky Derby.
Pletcher also will send out Starlight Racing’s Intense Holiday, Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s We Miss Artie and WinStar Farms and Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Vinceremos.
In addition to Espinoza and Smith, four other riders will be trying to build on their Kentucky Derby win totals, including Joel Rosario, who won last year’s renewal on Orb.
Rosario has the call on General a Rod, owned by Starlight Racing and Skychai Racing and one of three horses trained by Mike Maker. General a Rod, 15-1 on the line, will break from post position eight.
Maker also trains Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Vicar’s in Trouble and Skychai Racing, Terry Raymond and Jana Wagner’s Harry’s Holiday.
Rosie Napravnik, who rode Vicar’s in Trouble to victories in the Louisiana Derby (GII) and LeComte (GIII), is seeking to become the first female rider to win the Kentucky Derby. Vicar’s in Trouble will break from post position one.
Calvin Borel, who will ride Daniel Dougherty’s Ride On Curlin, is a three-time Kentucky Derby winner. Borel won on Street Sense (2007), Mine That Bird (2009) and Super Saver (2010). Ride On Curlin will break from post position 19.
Gary Stevens, who will ride C R K Stable’s Candy Boy, also is a three-time winner with triumphs in 1988 on Winning Colors, Thunder Gulch (1995) and Silver Charm (1997). Candy Boy will exit post position 18.
John Velazquez, who won the 2011 Derby on Animal Kingdom, has the mount on Intense Holiday and will break from post position 16.
The field for the 140th Kentucky Derby, from the rail out with morning line odds, is as follows: Vicar’s in Trouble (Napravnik, 30-1), Harry’s Holiday (Corey Lanerie, 50-1), Uncle Sigh (Irad Ortiz Jr., 30-1), Danza (Bravo, 10-1), California Chrome (Espinoza, 5-2), Samraat (Jose Ortiz, 15-1), We Miss Artie (Javier Castellano, 50-1), General a Rod (Rosario, 15-1), Vinceremos (Joe Rocco Jr., 30-1), Wildcat Red (Luis Saez, 15-1), Hoppertunity (Smith, 6-1), Dance With Fate (Corey Nakatani, 20-1), Chitu (Garcia, 20-1), Medal Count (Robby Albarado, 20-1), Tapiture (Ricardo Santana Jr., 15-1), Intense Holiday (Velazquez 12-1), Commanding Curve (Shaun Bridgmohan, 50-1), Candy Boy (Stevens, 20-1), Ride On Curlin (Borel, 15-1) and Wicked Strong (Maragh, 8-1). Also-eligible: Pablo Del Monte (Jeffrey Sanchez, 50-1). All starters will carry 126 pounds.