LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Kentucky Derby, the oldest continuously held sporting event in the United States, returns to the first Saturday in May after running in September last year without fans due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Coverage starts at 12:30 PM Eastern Time on Saturday on NBC Sports Network and will continue on NBC at 2:30 PM Eastern Time. Post time is 6:57 pm
Here’s what else you need to know about the 147th section of the race:
Fans return, but attendance is limited.
The epidemic wreaked havoc on the Triple Crown schedule in 2020. The Belmont Stakes, usually the final leg of the Triple Crown, were held in June, the derby in September, and Craznes, usually the second of three races, came last. A new date in October. All will return to their regular locations on the calendar this year and allow a limited number of fans.
The derby regularly brings a crowd of over 150,000 to Churchill Downs. Organizers announced a set limit, saying the reserved seating area, which is usually for about 60,000 people, would be limited to 40 percent to 60 percent depending on the seating area. He said that recently an infield-only general admission ticket has been added and will be kept at around 25 percent to 30 percent capacity. It will crowd around 50,000 in number.
Fans will check the temperature at the gates, and will be required to wear masks to eat and drink. All reserved seats include unlimited food and drink this year, a move to reduce lines and exchange money. Organizers are also promoting the use of mobile applications to place bets, although betting windows will remain open.
An undefeated favorite topped the 19-horse field.
The essential quality, 2-year-old champion who is undefeated in five starts, is a 2-1 morning line favorite appearing in a somewhat evenly matched 19-horse derby field. (King Fury scratched with fever on Friday.)
After winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November, he won the Southwest Stakes at a serpentine track at Oklavan Park in February and the Blue Grass Stakes by a neck highly inspired by derby contender in April.
With one win, he would become the ninth undefeated horse to win the derby (the final justification was in 2018) and the third Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner (included in Street Sense and Nyquist). The son of prominent Sir Topit, Essential Quality has a pedigree suitable for the distance of miles and one-quarter of the Derby, and has shown versatility by winning on three tracks and in various speed scenarios.
Brad Cox, who will also saddle 15-1 shot Mendelon, is trying to become the first trainer to be born in Louisville to win the race. The Derby victory in his first attempt would rise sharply to the top of Cox’s game: the 41-year-old won the Eclipse Award for the outstanding trainer last year after grieving four Breeders’ Cup winners and winning 30 successive stakes races.
“We’ve been very fortunate to win two Kentucky Oaks, seven Breeders’ Cup races and an Eclipse Award, and it’s things I’ll never forget and am so proud of,” Cox said. “But the Kentucky Derby is No. 1, and that would mean a lot.”
Necessary quality is owned The controversial ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, Whose highly successful Godolphin Racing Empire seeks its first derby victory since 11 previous tries. Godolphin’s best finish was in 2015, when Frosted finished fourth.
The required quality will be riding by Luis Saez, who is 0 for 7 in the derby, although he experienced the thrill of winning for a brief period in 2019 before his mount Maximum protection was disqualified for interference..
No Lasics in the first phase towards the ban of race-day medicine.
The reduced capacity is no different in derby: there will be no “L” in the program next to the names of the runners to denote the race-day use of the drug this year.
All Derby entrants will race without medication for the first time in nearly 50 years, as part of the sport’s effort towards the elimination of race day medicine. And whoever crosses the finish line will become the first person to do it without Lasix after Grindstone in 1996.
Lasix or furosemide is used to prevent lung bleeding during exercise, but is also a diuretic that critics say has performance-enhancing effects that could possibly allow a horse to run faster . Lasix, which can also be used by humans for the use of performance-enhancing drugs, is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list.
The use of lesbics has been common in North America since the 1970s, but it is widely prohibited worldwide.
Last year, the track’s owners hosting three Triple Crown races – Churchill Downs, the Stronach Group and the New York Racing Association – agreed to stage race-day Lasix, starting with 2-year-olds and breeders. The cup has also been banned. Lasics are still permitted for race-day use on horses in the lower levels of the game.
To see other horses and people.
Todd Fletcher has four admissions in the derby: Florida Derby winner Known Agenda (6-1 in the morning line), Wood Memorial runner-up Dynamic One (20-1), Wood Memorial winner Bourbonic (30-1) and Jeff Ruby Steak Runner-up Sainthood (50-1). This is the sixth time Pletcher, 53, has made four or more derby starts in a year. He saddened his first derby horse in 2000 and came up with a record 55 derby starts this year. He won the derby in 2010 with Super Saver and in 2017 with Always Dreaming.
Bob Baffert, who won the 2020 derby with Authentic, enters the race tied with Ben Jones for the most derby wins by a trainer with six. When he sends out Medina Spirit (15-1), Buffart will try to make a record, which will have the same jockey as the authentic, John Velczak. (Jones won six times between 1938 and 1952.)
Kendrick Carmuche, who will board the Bourbonic, Will try to become the first black jockey in 119 years to win the Kentucky Derby. Carmouche knows the history of African-Americans in America’s most famous race: Oliver Lewis won the first derby in 1875, and 15 of the first 28 editions of the race were won by black jockeys, most recently in 1902 Jimmy Winkfield. “Something means something to a lot of people,” he said. “We helped find the game and I had the opportunity to remind people.”
Apart from trainers and jockeys, there are always a few horses with funny names that attract the attention of bookies and casual fans alike. This year’s most attractive name is Soup & Sandwich, the granddaughter of the founder of the Campbell Soup Company, Charlotte C. Is owned by Weber. Other attention-grabbers include The Bourbon Effect, Midnight Bourbon and Two Horses with Bourbonic (20–1); O Besos, who draws O from his breeder, Orb, and Besos, who is kissing in Spanish, from his dam, Snuggs and Kisses; New York-Brook Brooklyn Strong; And the generally memorable Hot Rod Charlie and Rock Your World.