LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A trainer flooding the field with five horses. A black jockey trying to make history, and a woman rider, too. Louisville coach Rick Pitino seeking a double – champions in racing and basketball. He’s sure in the right place.
The 19-horse field for today’s Kentucky Derby is balanced, with no definitive favorite.
Orb is the pre-race choice for the 139th Derby, but just barely. And then there’s the threat of rain, which has done in some of the best-laid plans on race day.
It sure looks like a topsy-turvy Derby.
“I don’t think we’ve got Secretariat in this bunch, even Seattle Slew,” four-time Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas said, “so I think it’s going to boil down to the trip and the pace and a lot of other things.”
Todd Pletcher will saddle a record-tying five horses, including undefeated and early second choice Verrazano.
“We laid out a plan to get here with them, and it’s all come down pretty much like we hoped,” said Pletcher, who has one Derby win.
Verrazano is 4-0 in his young career, not having run as a 2-year-old. He’ll be trying to disprove an old Derby jinx: No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won without racing as a juvenile.
Relative unknown Kevin Krigger will be aboard Goldencents, trying to become the first black jockey to win since 1902.
“I’m going to ride us the race that should get us to the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle,” Krigger said.
The colt is partly owned by Pitino, whose Cardinals won the NCAA championship last month.
Rosie Napravnik wants to grab history for herself, too. No female jockey has won the Derby, although she came closest, with a ninth-place finish in 2011. She will ride 15-1 long shot Mylute.
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