Zayat Stables’ champion 2-year-old of 2014 American Pharoah and Kaleem Shah’s undefeated Dortmund, both trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, headline a field 20 horses and two also-eligibles entered Wednesday for Saturday’s 141st running of the $2,203,800 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) at Churchill Downs.
Post time for the Derby, the 11th of 13 races Saturday, is 6:34 p.m. (all times Eastern). Gates open Saturday at 8 a.m. with the first race scheduled for 10:30 a.m.Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-70s under sunny skies.
The Kentucky Derby will be carried by NBC Sports with a 3 1/2-hour telecast from 4-7:30 p.m. The winner of the 1 ¼-mile first leg of the Triple Crown with 20 starters will receive $1,443,800.
American Pharoah, the 5-2 favorite on Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line, brings a four-race win streak into the Run for the Roses.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza in all four of those wins that have come by a combined 22 ¼ lengths, American Pharoah has captured the Del Mar Futurity (GI), the FrontRunner (GI), the Rebel (GII) and most recently the Arkansas Derby (GI).
Espinoza, who will bring American Pharoah out of post position 18, will be shooting for consecutive Derby victories. He won last year aboard California Chrome.
Baffert, whose three Derby victories are comprised of Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002), also will send out Dortmund, whose six-for-six record includes an allowance win at Churchill Downs last fall. Dortmund is the second choice on the morning line at 3-1.
Martin Garcia has been aboard for all of the victories that include Grade I scores in the Santa Anita Derby and Los Alamitos Futurity as well as the Robert B. Lewis (GIII) and San Felipe (GII). Dortmund will break from post position eight.
Baffert is not the only trainer in this year’s Derby seeking to add to his victory total in the race.
Todd Pletcher, who won the 2010 renewal with Super Saver, is topping Baffert’s number of runners with a quartet of his own in WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stables’ Carpe Diem; Alto Racing’s Materiality; Starlight Racing’s Itsaknockout; and Stonestreet Stables, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Stanford .
Carpe Diem, a winner of four of five career starts and third choice on the morning line at 8-1, enters the Derby off his second Grade I victory, this coming in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, the same track where he took the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) last fall. John Velazquez, who has ridden Carpe Diem in all of his starts, has the callSaturday and will break from post position two in search of his second Derby win.
Velazquez won the 2011 running aboard Animal Kingdom.
Materiality, the co-fourth choice on the morning line at 12-1 with Firing Line, is undefeated in three career starts, highlighted by a victory in the Florida Derby (GI) in his most recent start. Javier Castellano has the mount and will break from post position three.
Pletcher also will send Starlight Racing’s Itsaknockout and Stonestreet Stables, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Stanford. Luis Saez has the mount on Itsaknockout and will exit post position 13. Florent Geroux will ride Stanford and break from post position 11.
The other Grade I winner in the field is Godolphin Racing’s Frosted.
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Frosted won the Wood Memorial in his most recent start under Joel Rosario. Rosario, who won the 2013 Derby on Orb, retains the mount Saturday and will break from post position 15.
Adding more international flavor to this year’s Derby is the presence of Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum’s Mubtaahij (IRE), trained by South African Michael de Kock.
A winner of four of five starts on dirt at Meydan in Dubai including the UAE Derby (GII) by eight lengths in his most recent start, Mubtaahij will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon and break from post position six.
In addition to Baffert and Pletcher, two other trainers will be seeking to boost their Derby victory totals.
D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time with Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996) and Charismatic (1999), will send out Zayat Stables’ Mr. Z with Ramon Vazquez riding.
Nick Zito, who took the 1991 Derby with Strike the Gold and the 1994 running with Go for Gin, trains Frammento for Mossarosa. Frammento is the first also-eligible and would be ridden by Corey Nakatani if he draws into the race.
Besides Espinoza, Velazquez and Rosario, four other riders will attempt to add to their Derby win totals.
Three of the four have won the race three: Calvin Borel, Gary Stevens and Kent Desormeaux.
Borel, who won with Street Sense in 2007, Mine That Bird in 2009 and Super Saver in 2010 will ride Zayat Stables’ El Kabeir and break from post position seven.
Stevens, a winner on Winning Colors in 1988, Thunder Gulch in 1995 and Silver Charm in 1997, will pilot Arnold Zetcher’s Firing Line and break from post position 10.
Desormeaux, the winning rider in 1998 on Real Quiet, Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000 and Big Brown in 2008, will ride Donegal Racing’s Keen Ice and break from post position 14.
Mike Smith, who will ride Far Right for owners Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta out of post position 20, won the 2005 Derby on Giacomo.
The field for the 141st Kentucky Derby, from the rail out with rider and morning-line odds, is Ocho Ocho Ocho (Elvis Trujillo, 50-1), Carpe Diem (Velazquez, 8-1), Materiality (Castellano, 12-1), Tencendur (Manny Franco, 30-1), Danzig Moon (Julien Leparoux, 30-1), Mubtaahij (IRE) (Soumillon, 20-1), El Kabeir (Borel, 30-1), Dortmund (Garcia, 3-1), Bolo (Rafael Bejarano, 30-1), Firing Line (Stevens, 12-1), Stanford (Geroux, 30-1), International Star (Miguel Mena, 20-1), Itsaknockout (Luis Saez, 30-1), Keen Ice (Kent Desormeaux, 50-1), Frosted (Rosario, 15-1), War Story (Joe Talamo, 50-1), Mr. Z (Vazquez, 50-1), American Pharoah (Espinoza, 5-2), Upstart (Jose Ortiz, 15-1), Far Right (Smith, 30-1). Also-eligibles: Frammento (Corey Nakatani, 50-1), Tale of Verve (Brian Hernandez Jr., 50-1). All starters carry 126 pounds.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN), which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on May 2, 2015. The track’s 2015 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 25-June 27. The track has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record eight times. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet atwww.ChurchillDowns.com.