Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman’s Lookin At Lucky, America’s champion 2-year-old of 2009 and a winner of six of eight career starts, has been installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite for Saturday’s 136th running of America’s greatest race, the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) at Churchill Downs.
Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia, who has fashioned the Kentucky Derby morning line odds since 1975, listed the Sid and Jenny Craig Trust’s Sidney’s Candy, who defeated Lookin At Lucky in the Santa Anita Derby (GI) last time out, as the 5-1 second choice although neither horse appeared to benefit from any significant luck at the Derby’s post position draw. The two favorites are bookends in the 20-horse field as Lookin At Lucky drew the rail post and the John Sadler-trained Sidney’s Candy drew the outside gate – results that drew audible gasps from onlookers as the traditional post draw, or “pill pull,” was conducted at Churchill Downs.
The number one post to be occupied by Baffert’s star has produced 12 Kentucky Derby winners and is tied for the most winners in Derby history, but that post last produced winner in 1986 when Ferdinand rallied from last to win the roses. Only two horses have won the Kentucky Derby from gate 20, with Big Brown in 2008 being the most recent. The only previous winner from that gate was Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.
“This horse, he can’t catch a break,” Baffert said. “We named him wrong. Can we change the name? You know what? You can’t worry about that. We’ve made it this far.”
“Not the best of draws,” said Sadler after Sidney’s Candy landed in the outside gate. “What can I say? At least you’re outside and can see what’s going on.”
If all 20 horses entered in the 1 ¼-mile classic start, the race will be worth $2,185,200 with the winner receiving $1,425,200. Post time for the Kentucky Derby, which will be the 11th race on the 13-race program is 6:24 p.m. (all times Eastern). First post time is 10:30 a.m. NBC Sports will provide television coverage of the race from 4-7 p.m. with radio coverage provided by ESPN Radio from 5-7 p.m.
Lookin At Lucky will seek to provide Baffert with his fourth Kentucky Derby victory as he brings a career record of 6-1-1 in eight races and a bankroll of $1,513,000 into the race. Include in his half-dozen wins are Grade I wins in the Del Mar Futurity, Norfolk and CashCall Futurity.
Baffert’s most recent Kentucky Derby winner was War Emblem in 2002. He also grabbed the Derby’s famed mantle of roses in 1997 with Silver Charm and 1998 with Real Quiet, who was owned by Pegram. Jockey Garrett Gomez, seeking his first Kentucky Derby victory in seven attempts, has been Lookin At Lucky’s regular rider and will be in the saddle again Saturday.
Sidney’s Candy brings streak of three consecutive stakes victories into Derby 136 that includes scores in the San Vicente (GII), San Felipe (GII) and the Santa Anita Derby – all on synthetic tracks. Sidney’s Candy will be making his first start on a traditional dirt track when he goes postward Saturday under jockey Joe Talamo who is making his first Kentucky Derby appearance. Talamo had the mount on favored I Want Revenge in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, only to see that horse scratched on the morning of the race.
Battaglia listed a trio horses as 10-1 co-third choices in Saturday’s race, including an impressive filly that will attempt become only the fourth member of her gender to defeat males to win the Kentucky Derby. Glencrest Farm’s Devil May Care, trained by Todd Pletcher. has posted a record of 3-0-0 in five races that includes wins in Belmont’s Frizette (GI) and the Bonnie Miss (GII) at Gulfstream Park for earnings of $399,000.
Pletcher is seeking his first Kentucky Derby win after failing with his first 24 Derby starters, while jockey John Velazquez, also winless in the Derby, has the riding call on Devil May Care, who will carry 121 pounds – five fewer than her male rivals. Devil May Care will break from post 11 as she attempts to join Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980) and Winning Colors (1988) as the only fillies to win the Kentucky Derby.
Devil May Care, one of four Derby 136 contenders trained by Pletcher, is listed at 10-1 on the morning line and is co-third choice with Gotham (GIII) winner Awesome Act and Florida Derby (GI) winner Ice Box.
Also seeking to make history is trainer Alexis Barba, who will send out Make Music for Me for Ellen and Peter Johnson. She will be the 14th woman trainer to saddle a Kentucky Derby starter and hopes to become the first to train a Derby winner. The best previous finish by a female trainer came when Shelley Riley saddled Casual Lies to a runner-up finish to Lil E. Tee in 1992. Jamie Sanders was the most recent woman trainer with a Derby starter, sending out Teuflesberg to a 17th-place finish in 2007.
Owned by Vinery Stables and Mrs. Susan Roy, Awesome Act won the Gotham in his U.S. dirt debut in March and then finished third when he stumbled at the break and lost a shoe in the Wood Memorial (GI) early this month. Eclipse Award-winning jockey Julien Leparoux has the mount on Awesome Act, who will break from post position 16.
The deep Kentucky Derby field features six other Grade I winners including Dublin, trained by four-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas; Ice Box, conditioned by two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito; and Homeboykris, who is handled by Rick Dutrow, the trainer of 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown.
Owned by Robert Baker and William Mack, Dublin won the Hopeful last summer at Saratoga and is graded-stakes placed in all three of his starts this year at Oaklawn Park. Terry Thompson has the mount on Dublin, who will break from post position 17.
Ice Box, owned by Robert LaPenta, earned his way to the Kentucky Derby with a last-to-first victory in the Florida Derby under Jose Lezcano. Ice Box will break from post position two and is one of two Zito-trained runners in the Derby along with Jackson Bend, who is co-owned by LaPenta and Jacks or Better Farm. Mike Smith, who rode Jerry and Ann Moss’ Giacomo to victory in the 2005 Kentucky Derby, has the call on Jackson Bend who will break from post position 13.
Louis Lazzinnaro and partners’ Homeboykris captured the Champagne last fall at Belmont. Ramon Dominguez has the riding assignment Saturday on Homeboykris, who will break from post position 19.
The other Grade I winners in the Derby field are Chasing Dreams Racing 2008’s Noble’s Promise (Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity), Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Line of David (Arkansas Derby) and Stately Victor (Toyota Blue Grass).
Line of David is a second Derby starter for Sadler and Stately Victor is trained by Mike Maker, who will also send out Dean’s Kitten. Ken McPeek trains Noble’s Promise.
The field for the 136th Kentucky Derby, in post position order, includes: Lookin At Lucky (Garrett Gomez, 126 pounds, 3-1), Ice Box (Jose Lezcano, 126, 10-1), Noble’s Promise (Willie Martinez, 126, 12-1), Super Saver (Calvin Borel, 126, 15-1), Line of David (Rafael Bejarano, 126, 30-1), Stately Victor (Alan Garcia, 126, 30-1), American Lion (David Flores, 126, 30-1), Dean’s Kitten (Robby Albarado, 126, 50-1), Make Music for Me (Joel Rosario, 126, 50-1), Paddy O’Prado (Kent Desormeaux, 126, 20-1), Devil May Care (John Velazquez, 121, 10-1), Conveyance (Martin Garcia, 126, 12-1), Jackson Bend (Mike Smith, 126, 15-1), Mission Impazible (Rajiv Maragh, 126, 20-1), Discreetly Mine (Javier Castellano, 126, 30-1), Awesome Act (Julien Leparoux, 126, 10-1), Dublin (Terry Thompson, 126, 12-1), Backtalk (Miguel Mena, 126, 50-1), Homeboykris (Ramon Dominguez, 126, 50-1) and Sidney’s Candy (Joe Talamo, 126, 5-1).