Note: Please open the attached pdf document or paste the following in your browser for additional information: https://bit.ly/2IPholR The Road to the Kentucky Derby will conclude Saturday as the final two races in the 35-race series – the $1 million Arkansas Derby (Grade I) at Oaklawn Park and $200,000 Lexington (GII) at Keeneland – help finalize the preference list for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) on Saturday, May 5.
The 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby is the lone-remaining Championship Series race worth 100 points to the winner and 40 points to the runner-up, which will be crucial to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. In addition to first two finishing positions, the Arkansas Derby’s third and fourth-place finishers will receive 20 and 10 points respectively.
The 1 1/16-mile Lexington offers points to the Top 4 finishers on a scale of 20-8-4-2.
Only 16 horses on the official leaderboard have clinched spots in the Kentucky Derby starting gate (the Top 15 point-earners and Gronkowski, who earned an invitation by winning the inaugural European Road to the Kentucky Derby series).
That means the connections of Lone Sailor (42 points and $273,347 in non-restricted stakes earnings which serve as a tie-breaker), Hofburg (40 points, $192,000), Firenze Fire (39) and Solomini (34) will be closely monitoring the results of Saturday’s races.
In the first five years of the Kentucky Derby point system, the last horse to get a spot in the Derby starting gate had between 10 and 32 points: 10 (2013), 20 (2014), 22 (2015), 32 (2016) and 30 (2017).
This year, it’s mathematically possible that 42 points might not be enough to join the field.
Arkansas Derby entrants Magnum Moon (50 points) and Quip (50) already have sufficient points. Solomini (34) can secure a berth with a Top 4 finish, while Combatant (22) and Dream Baby Dream (20) can be in the mix with a Top 3 showing.
Machismo (5), Beautiful Shot (0), Plainsman (0) and Tenfold (0) will qualify with a win and join the discussion with a runner-up effort.
Meanwhile, My Boy Jack (32) needs a Top 2 finish in the Lexington to vie for position within the Top 19 point-earners. All other Lexington starters would need defections to join the Kentucky Derby lineup if they won.
The Arkansas Derby will go as Race 11 at Oaklawn Park on Saturday with a post time of 7:18 p.m. (all times EDT). The Lexington is Keeneland’s Race 9 at 5:34 p.m.
The Road to the Kentucky Oaks concludes Friday with the Fantasy (GIII) at Oaklawn Park. The Fantasy is Race 7 at 5:34 p.m. The top-four finishers will receive 100-40-20-10 points, respectively. – Darren Rogers
MAGNUM MOON FACES EIGHT IN $1 MILLION ARKANSAS DERBY
Relative inexperience proved no hurdle for Magnum Moon in last month’s Rebel (Grade II). On Saturday, the Todd Pletcher trainee will be back at Oaklawn Park seeking to add the track’s signature event, the $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI), to his growing résumé and enhance his Kentucky Derby (GI) credentials.
The 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby is the highlight of a 12-race card that completes the 2018 racing season at Oaklawn, which will take on a different look next year after the announcement Wednesday that the 2019 meet would start later, on Jan. 25, and end three weeks after the Arkansas Derby, on May 4, the date of next year’s Kentucky Derby.
The Arkansas Derby awards Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to its top four finishers, but Magnum Moon is safely in following a 50-point win in the Rebel, achieved in just his third career start and despite a wide journey. The son of Malibu Moon coasted home by 3 ½ lengths, remaining undefeated from three starts. He debuted on Jan. 13 at Gulfstream and followed up with a Tampa allowance win on Feb. 15. With another strong showing Saturday, he will join Justify as the second major Kentucky Derby contender that was unraced at age 2.
Another Arkansas Derby candidate not in need of qualifying points is Quip, who pulled off a 19-1 upset of last month’s Tampa Bay Derby (GII) over the likes of Flameaway and Vino Rosso. Trained by Rodolphe Brisset for the partnership of WinStar Farm and China Horse Club, the Distorted Humor colt has won three of four, all except the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) last November in which he experienced a troubled trip.
For the rest of the Arkansas Derby lineup, earning additional qualifying points Saturday are essential to being in the starting gate at Churchill three weeks from now. Solomini is currently a “bubble” horse with 34 points following his second-place finish in the Rebel. The Bob Baffert-trained son of Curlin could show improvement for the run, but needs a career peak to suggest he’ll be a serious player in the year’s first classic.
Combatant, third in the Rebel and second in three other Derby preps, is currently outside the top 20, as is Sunland Derby (GIII) runner-up Dream Baby Dream. Both are trained by Steve Asmussen, looking for his first Kentucky Derby win to complete his career Triple Crown.
Asmussen has a third Arkansas Derby entry in Tenfold, also a son of 2007 Arkansas Derby hero Curlin that has won both starts since debuting Feb. 9. Both he and maiden winner Plainsman are making their stakes debut in a tough spot. Machismo and Beautiful Shot, up the track in the Blue Grass (GII) and Gotham (GIII) in their respective last starts, are two others seeking to pull off a massive upset. – Vance Hanson, Brisnet.com
MY BOY JACK MUST OVERCOME POST 12 IN LEXINGTON STAKES
My Boy Jack displayed a fine late kick winning the Southwest (GIII) and recording a close third in the Louisiana Derby (GII), but he’s precariously placed at 21st on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard presently and connections don’t want to miss the Kentucky Derby due to an insufficient 32-point total. As a result, he’s shipped to Keeneland and tops a 12-horse field in Saturday’s $200,000 Lexington Stakes (GIII).
The 1 1/16-mile test offers a combined 34 points (20-8-4-2 scale) and a top two finish will likely guarantee My Boy Jack a spot in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby line-up. But the Keith Desormeaux-trained colt must overcome the far outside post at a tricky 1 1/16-mile distance with a short stretch. Jockey Kent Desormeaux retains the mount on the son of Creative Cause.
My Boy Jack isn’t the only performer of note entered as the Lexington marks the return of Greyvitos, who was sidelined by an ankle issue after winning December’s Springboard Mile at Remington Park, the final Kentucky Derby qualifier of 2017. A gray colt by Malibu Moon, Greyvitos has captured back-to-back stakes starts for Adam Kitchingman, breaking his maiden in the seven-furlong Bob Hope (GIII), and the front-runner will return from the 118-day hiatus with new rider Joel Rosario.
Pony Up, a turf maiden winner last fall but no factor in the Holy Bull (GII) two starts ago, switches back to the main track for Todd Pletcher following a neck second in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) on Turfway Park’s Polytrack. Seven Trumpets showed decent class recording a close second in the Jerome earlier this year and will try to rebound for Dale Romans after a pair of unplaced efforts in the Southwest and Sunland Derby (GIII).
Battle at Sea faces a class check but is expected to add to the pace following a pair of back-to-back wins over Louisiana-bred rivals, including a convincing wire-to-wire score in the Crescent City Derby on the Louisiana Derby undercard. But he loses the services of Jose Ortiz to Honor Up, who will make his first start against open foes for Bill Mott off an 11-length maiden romp at Aqueduct in mid-December.
Other runners include Telekinesis, a sharp debut scorer and third most recently versus allowance foes for Mark Casse; and Jeff Ruby fourth-placer Zanesville, an easy allowance winner on dirt two back for Tom Amoss. – James Scully, Brisnet.com
PAST PERFORMANCES & HISTORY
Brisnet.com Triple Crown PPs:
· Brisnet.com Kentucky Oaks PPs: https://bit.ly/2uTZpZy
· Brisnet.com Arkansas Derby PPs: https://bit.ly/2GWZsJG
· Brisnet.com Lexington PPs: https://bit.ly/2v6Z5qv
· Arkansas Derby History: https://bit.ly/2EEq1NB
· Lexington History: https://bit.ly/2ILxKvW
· Kentucky Derby Media Guide Information: https://bit.ly/2FbGuNP
ROAD TO DERBY VIDEO SERIES
· Episode 10: http://bit.ly/2pvhDdY
· Episode 9:
· Episode 8: http://bit.ly/2GkXUEj
· Episode 7: http://bit.ly/2HkZk31
· Episode 6: http://bit.ly/2ELeAry
· Episode 5: http://bit.ly/2odEVnI
· Episode 4: http://bit.ly/2HmXWNC
· Episode 3: http://bit.ly/2ELdZWQ
· Episode 2: http://bit.ly/2C4qsEh
· Episode 1: http://bit.ly/2Ez2GC5
“INSIDE CHURCHILL DOWNS”
“Inside Churchill Downs” airs Fridays at 6 p.m. on ESPN Louisville’s ESPN 680/105.7.
The weekly horse racing radio show is co-hosted by Churchill Downs Racetrack’s John Asher, Darren Rogers and Kevin Kerstein, and delivers a wide-ranging list of guests, from jockeys, trainers, owners to well-informed handicappers and other industry insiders.
LOUISIANA DERBY RUNNER-UP LONE SAILOR BREEZES AT CHURCHILL DOWNS – Louisiana Derby (Grade II) runner-up Lone Sailor returned to the work tab Wednesday at Churchill Downs with a half-mile breeze in :47.60, his first major tune-up in preparation for the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I).
With jockey James Graham aboard, Lone Sailor breezed through splits of :12 and :24, before galloping out five furlongs in 1:00.60.
Amoss confirmed that Graham will have the call on Lone Sailor in the Kentucky Derby.
Read more: https://bit.ly/2qqhw3z. – Kevin Kerstein
DOWN THE STRETCH – Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Monday that jockey John Velazquez has the call on Vino Rosso and Javier Castellano will ride Audible in the Kentucky Derby. Noble Indy’s rider is yet to be confirmed. … In turn, trainer Mick Ruis confirmed Tuesday that three-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Victor Espinoza will take the reins on Bolt d’Oro after Castellano opted for Audible. … The Arkansas Derby has produced six Kentucky Derby winners: American Pharoah (2015), Super Saver (2010), Smarty Jones (2004), Grindstone (1996), Lil E. Tee (1992) and Sunny’s Halo (1983). … Training hours at Churchill Downs are 5:30-10 a.m. with two renovation breaks at 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. Derby and Oaks horses will have an exclusive training window beginning Saturday, April 21 through Thursday, May 3 from 7:30-7:45 a.m. … Derby week stakes nominations close Saturday, April 14. To nominate: https://bit.ly/2spFso1. – Kevin Kerstein
SPOTLIGHT HORSE: VINO ROSSO
Last Saturday, trainer Todd Pletcher notched his fifth-career Wood Memorial (Grade II) victory with Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s Vino Rosso. The colt solidified himself as a top Kentucky Derby contender following his three-length victory and secured the riding services of Hall of Famer and two-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey John Velazquez.
· Horse information: (5-3-0-1—$620,500)
o Owner: Repole Stable (Mike Repole) & St. Elias Stable (Vincent Viola)
o Trainer: Todd Pletcher
o Jockey: John Velazquez
o Breeder: John Gunther (Ky.)
o Sire: Curlin (Smart Strike)
o Dam: Mythical Bride (Street Cry)
o Named After: Italian translation for “red wine.”
· Owner information: Repole is the founder of vitaminwater and BODYARMOUR. A graduate of St. John’s College, Repole eventually sold vitaminwater to Coca Cola for $4.1 billion. Including partnerships, Repole’s horses have collected $37,061,596 in earnings with eight Grade I victories but have yet to hit the board in the Kentucky Derby in three tries. In 2011, Repole was forced to scratch top-Derby contender Uncle Mo on the morning before the race due to illness.
Viola’s St. Elias Stable basked in Kentucky Derby glory in last year’s Run for the Roses when Always Dreaming recorded a 2 ¾-length victory. An Army veteran, Viola began the electronic-trading firm Virtu Financial in 2008. Viola is also the owner of the NHL’s Florida Panthers. A native of New York, St Elias Stable burst onto the horse-racing scene in 2012 and, including partnerships, has amassed $9,122,498 in earnings.
· Trainer Information: Pletcher, 50, began working for his father, J.J., as a hot walker when he was 7 years old in New Mexico. A graduate of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, the Texas native began working for Hall of Fame conditioner D. Wayne Lukas while he was still in college. Pletcher oversaw much of Lukas’ east coast-string of horses from 1991-95 until he took out his trainer’s license. Pletcher is a seven-time Eclipse Award-winning Outstanding Trainer (2004-07, ’10, ’13-14) and has two Kentucky Derby winners through a record-equaling 48 starters: Super Saver (2010) and Always Dreaming (’17).
· Jockey Information: Velazquez, 46, is a two-time Eclipse Award-winning jockey and member of the Hall of Fame class of 2012. Born in Puerto Rico, Velazquez moved to New York in 1990 and was taken under the wings by top jockey Angel Cordero Jr. Velazquez is a two-time winner of the Kentucky Derby: Animal Kingdom (2011) and Always Dreaming (2017). Velazquez has 5,893 wins and his mounts have accrued $382,838,005 in purse earnings. – Kevin Kerstein
WONDER GADOT HEADS FANTASY – Gary Barber’s Wonder Gadot is the 2-1 morning line favorite in Friday’s Fantasy (Grade III) at Oaklawn Park, the final race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks that will award the Top 4 finishers 100-40-20-10 points for the May 4 Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI).
Wonder Gadot has only one finish outside the top three in her eight-race career, a sixth place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (GI) on Nov. 4. The Medaglia d’Oro filly was most recently the third-place finisher in the March 24 Fair Grounds Oaks (GII).
Chief among Wonder Gadot’s challengers are the Top 3 finishers in the Honeybee (GIII), the local prep for the Fantasy: Cosmic Burst, Amy’s Challenge, and Sassy Sienna. – Kevin Kerstein
SCULLY’S KENTUCKY DERBY REPORT
JUSTIFY SOLIDIFIES KENTUCKY DERBY FAVORITISM
Justify continued to dazzle making his first stakes attempt in the Santa Anita Derby (GI), posting a convincing wire-to-wire victory and guaranteeing himself favoritism in the Kentucky Derby.
It’s been a whirlwind process for a 3-year-old who made his career debut only 48 days prior to Saturday and Justify has proved special from the get-go. He brings an air of superiority to the process, a brilliant performer capable of running rivals into the ground with massive strides, and registered the fastest BRIS Speed rating (114) in the six-year history of the Kentucky Derby points system winning Santa Anita Derby
The bright chestnut will face new challenges on May 5 and foundation has proven crucial over the last 144 years of the Kentucky Derby, with no unraced 2-year-old winning since 1882. And there appears to be more depth and quality in the 2018 edition than recent years. Those concerns are easily dismissed by supporters who point to talent over experience and believe streaks are made to be broken.
Vino Rosso shrugged off a couple of setbacks at Tampa Bay Downs with an encouraging win in the Wood Memorial (GII) at Aqueduct, rallying to score by three lengths, and joined fellow Todd Pletcher stablemates Audible, Magnum Moon and Noble Indy in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field. The late-running son of Curlin put himself in the mix of upset contenders and offers appeal underneath for vertical exotics (Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta and Super High-5).
Good Magic rebounded in the Blue Grass (GII), notching his second career victory with a 1 ½-length decision. He has some upside making his third start off the layoff in the Kentucky Derby but the 2-year-old champ hasn’t been close to the 105 Speed and 109 Late Pace BRIS numbers from a splashy Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) win, earning a respective 98 and 93 in the Blue Grass.
Santa Anita Derby
Four-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert has labeled him a “freak” and a wide range of superlatives can be used to describe Justify. Baffert redirected the son of Scat Daddy from the Arkansas Derby (GI) to the Santa Anita Derby following an injury to McKinzie and that left his charge as the lone speed in a seven-horse field that included a pair of hopeless maidens.
Naturally fast and built to run longer distances, Justify possesses the extra gear to separate himself from the pack and quickly dismissed a challenge from well-regarded Bolt d’Oro in upper stretch, allowing his rival a glimmer of hope before accelerating away with an inspiring turn of foot. His BRIS Early Pace numbers are huge and he garnered an eye-popping 117 Late Pace rating in the Santa Anita Derby.
Justify was left to his own accord from the start, establishing manageable splits of :23.96 and :47.85 without a hint of pressure, and everything’s been so easy for him in all three career starts. Connections bypassed a truer test in the Arkansas Derby, which will feature a pair of accomplished front-runners in Magnum Moon and Quip, and Justify won’t be battle-tested heading to Churchill Downs.
Perhaps it won’t matter as Justify continues to blossom in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
“What you’re seeing right now is just raw talent,” jockey Mike Smith said. “If he moves forward off of this race, which he should, then it’s even kind of scary to talk about.”
“Justify is just a natural and he’s just learning how to run,” Baffert added. “He has that big, beautiful stride.”
When he’s exciting audiences, the sky seems to be the limit for Justify. Backers haven’t just purchased Kentucky Derby futures, they’re betting on a Triple Crown winner. He’s been that good. But I can’t escape the feeling his path has been neatly wrapped in a bow so far and Justify’s inexperience could prove costly over a demanding 1 ¼-mile trip where everything doesn’t come easy.
With the rest of the field never a factor, Bolt d’Oro was forced to go after Justify on the far turn and got close before being readily dismissed in the stretch. He hasn’t distinguished himself but performed admirably in both starts this year, taking the San Felipe (GII) via disqualification a month earlier, and the Medaglia d’Oro colt received a career-best 110 BRIS Speed rating in his final prep.
Trainer and co-owner Mick Ruis is looking forward to a better set-up in the Kentucky Derby and Bolt d’Oro merits respect; the multiple Grade I winner could be building toward an optimal performance and will bring a strong set of Late Pace numbers (100-104-102-114) to the equation. He exited the race with a bloodied foot and lost jockey Javier Castellano to Audible in recent days, but Bolt d’Oro will add the services of three-time Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza and the athletic sophomore is eligible to make a favorable impression in his morning exercises at Churchill Downs.
Depending on what Magnum Moon does in the Arkansas Derby, Bolt d’Oro appears poised to be either the third or fourth choice in Kentucky Derby wagering.
Vino Rosso received a favorable set-up for his late kick in the Wood Memorial as a runaway speedball established a heady pace. He came flying into contention by the conclusion of the far turn but the Pletcher pupil didn’t maintain a straight path after wheeling into the stretch, angling in and repeatedly bumping Enticed before gaining the upper hand in the final sixteenth a mile. Stewards took a long look before allowing the result to stand.
The contact didn’t affect the final outcome and Vino Rosso needed the confidence-building win. He’s always been well-regarded, posting a sharp debut win at Aqueduct last November and capturing a two-turn allowance at Tampa Bay Downs at 1-9 odds in his second start, but didn’t perform to expectations in his first two stakes attempts. The chestnut colt lost ground on the far turn of the Sam F. Davis (GIII) before rallying belatedly for third and never fired finishing fourth in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII).
Vino Rosso turned things around nicely at Aqueduct and John Velazquez will stick with the up-and-coming colt. His BRIS Speed and Late Pace numbers are solid and as mentioned previously, Vino Rosso is a candidate to come rallying into the frame of the Kentucky Derby.
Enticed was a little softened up after stalking the hot pace in second but held well for the place, 2 ¼ lengths clear of third. The well-bred son of Medaglia d’Oro may appreciate returning to Churchill Downs, site of his game win in the Kentucky Jockey Club (GII) in his juvenile finale, but his lack of a triple-digit BRIS Speed rating from a pair of route starts this year has me concerned (he’s run faster around one-turn).
Good Magic launched a bold move on the far turn and appeared on his way to a big win when striking the front in upper stretch of the Blue Grass at Keeneland. But after reaching the eighth pole with a 1 ½-length advantage, he didn’t continue to draw away from pacesetter Flameaway, who kept plugging along through the stretch to finish a clear second.
My reaction was mixed afterward. So much was expected from Good Magic after he displayed awesome push-button acceleration breaking his maiden in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but he was far from a developed product entering his 3-year-old season and not up to the task returning from a lengthy layoff in the Fountain of Youth (GII) in early March. The Blue Grass represented the first positive step toward reaching his peak at age 3 and as we witnessed last fall following a runner-up effort to Firenze Fire in the Champagne (GI), Good Magic has shown the ability to take a significant step forward off an encouraging performance.
His tactical speed may provide a good stalking trip but the Kentucky Derby will be a difficult proposition given his lower Speed ratings this season and the added ground. Good Magic’s 96 Speed figure from the Champagne stacked up better last fall and the Juvenile came at a 1 1/16-mile distance that fit perfectly within his wheelhouse. His Blue Grass effort didn’t instill me with confidence surrounding his chances at 1 ¼ miles.
Flameaway promises to be overlooked at long odds following runner-up efforts in the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass, but he’ll find a place underneath in my exotic tickets. A son of Scat Daddy, the Mark Casse-trained colt reminds me of Battle of Midway, a hard-trying colt with speed and perceived distance limitations who never finished out of the money and wound up third in last year’s Kentucky Derby at 40-1.
Flameaway has laid his body down in all four starts this year, battling determinedly to the wire, and didn’t lose ground in the stretch of any. He’s the type who could be in the right spot to outfinish other tiring rivals for a minor award.
Magnum Moon posted a smashing 3 ½-length win in the March 17 Rebel (GII) at Oaklawn Park and has the opportunity to offer another salvo in the $1 million Arkansas Derby. Unraced at age 2, the Malibu Moon colt notched a 100 BRIS Speed rating improving his record to 3-for-3 last time and an impressive performance Saturday will put him in the conversation with Justify and Mendelssohn as a top contender.
Tampa Bay Derby winner Quip will show speed in the nine-horse field and we’ll see whether Combatant, who has put himself in position but lacked the necessary finishing kick placing in his last four stakes attempts, can take a necessary step forward for Steve Asmussen. Asmussen also has as part of a three-pronged attack Tenfold, who is making his stakes debut after opening his career with maiden and allowance wins; and Dream Baby Dream, who will provide insight upon Runaway Ghost after a runner-up finish in the Sunland Derby (GIII).
Solomini doesn’t have to win, but he was never a threat getting up in the final strides for second in the Rebel and I need to see an improved showing to have any faith in his Kentucky Derby chances.
I will be surprised if Magnum Moon doesn’t prove best and hope to see him put on a show.
The Lexington Stakes (GIII) represents an important test for My Boy Jack, who probably needs a top two finish after a third in the Louisiana Derby (GII). The Southwest (GIII) winner currently ranks 21st on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 32 points and the 1 1/16-mile Lexington is worth a total of 34 points (20-8-4-2 scale). The late runner will have to overcome the widest post among 12 rivals.
Greyvitos, who is unraced since winning the Springboard Mile at Remington Park in mid-December, returns for Adam Kitchingman in the Lexington and will be a prominent presence from the start with Joel Rosario.
Telekinesis wound up dueling on the lead while stepping up to face allowance rivals last time and weakened late in his first two-turn start. I liked his debut two starts back and anticipate a better stalking trip this time for the Casse-trained Ghostzapper colt, who has posted solid BRIS Speed numbers (92-93). – James Scully, Brisnet.com
Five probable starters for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (GI) and five probable starters for the Longines Kentucky Oaks are currently on the grounds at Churchill Downs:
Kentucky Derby – Bravazo (trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Barn 44); Flameaway (Mark Casse, Barn 36); Free Drop Billy (Dale Romans, Barn 4); Lone Sailor (Tom Amoss, Barn 29); and Promises Fulfilled (Romans, Barn 4). Also on the grounds is Snapper Sinclair (Steve Asmussen, Barn 38).
Kentucky Oaks – Chocolate Martini (Amoss, Barn 29); Classy Act (Bret Calhoun, Barn 23); Coach Rocks (Romans, Barn 4); Monomoy Girl (Brad Cox, Barn 22); and Patrona Margarita (Calhoun, Barn 23).
NATIONAL ANTHEM: PENTATONIX
Churchill Downs Racetrack announced that multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning A Cappella group Pentatonix will sing the national anthem at the 144th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on Saturday, May 5, 2018.
The announcement comes just before the vocal group will release their forthcoming album, “PTX Presents: Top Pop, Vol. 1,” on April 13, and in advance of their highly-anticipated 2018 Summer Tour. The A Cappella superstars will perform The Star-Spangled Banner live for more than 160,000 fans at the Kentucky Derby. The performance will take place just after 5 p.m. EDT and be broadcast live as part of NBC’s Kentucky Derby coverage.
“Pentatonix is a worldwide sensation, and we’re excited for their national anthem performance to become part of Kentucky Derby history,” said Kevin Flanery, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. “We think they’re a perfect fit this year as the Kentucky Derby’s popularity continues to skyrocket across the globe.”
Three-time Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum-selling Pentatonix has sold nearly 10 million albums worldwide and performed for hundreds of thousands of fans at their sold out shows across the globe. Their YouTube channel boasts more than 15 million subscribers, yielding over 3.2 billion video views. Their 2015 self-titled album is certified gold after debuting #1 on Billboard’s 200.
Nine of their albums reached the top 10 on Billboard’s 200 chart (two at #1) and received multiple RIAA certifications for multi-platinum, platinum and gold-selling albums and singles. The group has had two holiday specials on NBC, released their tour documentary On My Way Home in 2015, appeared in the film Pitch Perfect 2 and released a deluxe version of their certified platinum 2016 holiday album, “A Pentatonix Christmas Deluxe.”
Pentatonix is the 10th major artist to perform the national anthem at the iconic horse race. Past artists who performed are Harry Connick Jr. (2017), Lady Antebellum (2016), Josh Groban (2015), Jo Dee Messina (2014), Martina McBride (2013), Mary J. Blige (2012), Jordin Sparks (2011), Rascal Flatts (2010) and LeeAnn Rimes (2009).