Essential Quality is the favorite in the morning with 2: 1 and starts on Saturday in 14th place at the 147th Kentucky Derby in Churchill Downs.
The $ 3 million marquee race for 3-year-olds takes place on the first Saturday in May after being postponed to Labor Day weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic last fall. The race is expected to be seen in person by 45,000 spectators.
Rock Your World is the 5-1 second choice from the No. 15 slot, while Known Agenda is the 6-1 third choice, despite the fact that the track was drawn in the 20 horse field. Hot Rod Charlie drew 8-1 odds as the fourth pick from the No. 9 slot.
“It got a little nerve-wracking with both horses still out and the railing still out there,” said Brad Cox, the trainer for Essential Quality and Mandaloun. “I think it will be a good place [for Essential Quality]. He has good tactical pace that allows him to get into a good position from there. “
The obvious focus is on Essential Quality, the reigning 2-year-old champion who enters the Run for the Roses after all five races and with Luis Saez on board. One of his victories in the tiered stakes was a brave Blue Grass win in Keeneland on April 3rd, which put Tapit’s gray son at the top of the Derby with 140 points and cemented him as a planned favorite.
Cox, who grew up a few blocks from Churchill Downs, is trying to become the first Louisville native to win the race. The Eclipse Award winner will saddle Mandaloun on his Derby debut as a 15-1 pick from 7th place.
Unbeaten Rock Your World, trained by John Sadler, has won all three starts this year after not racing as a 2-year-old. He rolled to a 4¼-length win in the Santa Anita Derby against Medina Spirit, who was coached by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.
“It’s a good contribution and we’re happy with it,” said Sadler.
The well-known agenda is headed by Todd Pletcher’s four-horse contingent, which includes Bourbonic, who pulled outpost # 20. Dynamic One (No. 11, 20-1 odds) and Sainthood (No. 5, 50-1). The chestnut foal has won two out of three starts this season and three wins, a second and a third in six career starts.
Even when Churchill Downs introduced a new 20-stand Derby starting gate last fall to replace the standard 14 gates and six extra slots, Known Agenda cut out his work for him to avoid being in a crowded space inside and out outside of the competition field is curled up.
“Obviously it’s not what we were hoping for,” said Pletcher. “Of course this is one of the things that you cannot control. With the new goal, we hope that things will be better than in the past and that the Post will not be too bad.”
Hot Rod Charlie’s post draw in the middle brought a loud cheer from his contingent as the colt avoided pushing out of the gate. The colt of trainer Doug O’Neill won the Louisiana Derby with two lengths and was second in Essential Quality with 110 derby points.
“We decided to pump it no matter what post we pulled,” O’Neill said of the connections that include five former college football players. “But we’re really excited about the nine. It’s a really good contribution.”
The post time on Saturday is 6:57 p.m. ET.
This year’s race is being run for the first time without horses using the anti-bleeding drug Lasix to encourage drug elimination on race day.
Formally known as furosemide, it is given as an injection about four hours before a race to prevent or reduce the severity of exercise-induced bleeding in the lungs. It also works as a diuretic, causing horses to urinate and lose 20 to 30 pounds of fluid, increasing their ability to run faster. People use Lasix to control blood pressure.
The last horse to win the derby without Lasix was Grindstone in 1996.
Churchill Downs declined to award qualifying points for this year’s Kentucky Derby prep races to any horse that runs at Lasix on race day. The Breeders’ Cup follows suit, with a Lasix ban on its qualifying races and no points for horses that use it.
“The longer we did it, the more I could adjust,” said O’Neill. “The horses kept their shape without them.” They seem to come out of races with more energy and return to their normal training energy more quickly, so they recover faster without Lasix. ”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.