This Saturday marks the running of the 146th Kentucky Derby. Like everything else in the COVID-19 era, schedules have been rearranged; sacrifices, concessions, and adjustments have been made; and new traditions have been born. Normally, the "Run for the Roses" occurs on the first weekend in May; now it is the first weekend in September. Normally, the race is the first in the Triple Crown series, now it is the second. However, one aspect that remains intact from 146 years of tradition is the depth and competitiveness of the field, accompanied by the potential to cash some juicy tickets ... just not at the window this year.
The 18-horse field is stacked with long shots. Of the 18 runners, only three are under double figure odds to win. Conveniently, all three of these runners have been placed alongside each other on outside posts. The group is led by overwhelming favorite No. 17 Tiz The Law (3-5). Tiz The Law is coming off a string of both statistically and aesthetically impressive victories, most recently capped by a dominating performance in the Aug. 8 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course. This Barclay Tagg-trained colt also took down the first leg of the Triple Crown Series on June 20 with his Belmont Stakes win. Tiz The Law is eyeing immortality in becoming the 14th horse to win the Triple Crown, and given his historical prowess and sharp form heading into Saturday, you'll be hard-pressed to find a legitimate cause to doubt the possibility.
Sandwiching Tiz The Law are the second and third favorites, No. 16 Honor A.P. (5-1) directly to his inside, and No. 18 Authentic (8-1) to the outside. Both runners are more than game coming into Saturday and given that all three runners have exceptional natural speed, they will likely look to push Tiz The Law from the onset. Given the outside post position of the group and the anticipated contentious duel to get to the lead early, it’ll be interesting to see their respective strategies to establish strong positioning entering the first turn, which will likely decide their fates.
Outside of the favorites, there are a few long-odds runners that will likely be considerably bet down come post time. Chief among them may be the Bob Baffert trained No. 10 Thousand Words at 15-1. Thousand Words is coming off an impressive gate-to-wire win in the Aug. 1 Shared Beliefs Stakes. Although facing a short field that day (four runners), he demonstrated the ability to secure an early lead, maintain it and fend off a late charge from the Derby’s second favorite, Honor A.P.
Make no mistake about it, Tiz The Law is deserving of his favorite status. But if you’re willing to turn a blind eye to that fact, or perhaps forecast trouble for him, the possible outcomes become boundless. With competent runners across the board with varying styles, anticipate a substantial payout on all exotic wagers (trifectas, superfectas, etc.) even if Tiz The Law notches the win.
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