Darron Cummings/Associated Press
The 2020 Kentucky Derby is nearly upon us. While this year’s edition of the race will be far from the typical Derby Day, the 146th Run for the Roses should be an exciting affair nonetheless.
In some ways, the unusual nature of the 2020 Derby will add to the excitement. With the Belmont Stakes taking place in June, the Kentucky Derby will be the second leg of the Triple Crown. Tiz the Law took the first leg and is a heavy favorite to take the second.
However, Tiz the Law faces the stiff challenge of breaking from the 17th gate and being surrounded by contenders Honor A. P. and Authentic. Winning from the outside is not easy, and the 17th gate has never produced a Derby winner.
Will Tiz the Law make history and ride into October’s Preakness Stakes with a shot at the Triple Crown? We’ll find out on Saturday.
146th Kentucky Derby
Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville Kentucky
When: Saturday, September 5
Post Time: 7:01 p.m. ET
Preview and Predictions
This year’s field of 18 is an interesting one, as there are a few heavy betting favorites and then several long shots. After Tiz the Law, Honor A. P. and Authentic, Thousand Words is the only other horse with better than 20-1 odds.
This could have a little something to do with breaking from the 10th gate, a position that has produced nine Derby winners. Being the product of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert certainly doesn’t hurt, though. Baffert has five Derby wins to his credit and can tie the record held by Ben Jones if Thousand Words or Authentic can win on Saturday.
Baffert, though, is focused on the race, not the record.
“I don’t worry about the stats and records,” he said, per Bob Ehalt of BloodHorse.com. “When I’m 85 years old and (wife Jill) is wheeling me around somewhere, then we can say, ‘Hey, remember I got the record.’ My job is to get horses ready so they can run their best race.”
If there’s going to be a genuine upset, it could come from Thousand Words.
Baffert’s other horse is a more direct challenger to Tiz the Law, however, as Authentic won three of his last four races. All three were on dirt, and the most recent was the 1⅛-mile TVG.com Haskell Stakes in mid-July.
Of course, Authentic’s loss in the RUNHAPPY Santa Anita Derby shouldn’t be overlooked. The winner of that race? Honor A. P. Don’t be shocked if the John Shirreffs-trained horse outdistances Authentic once again.
While it wouldn’t be a shock to see a long shot like Thousand Words or King Guillermo show from one of the inside gates, it’s hard to bet against Tiz the Law at this point.
Tiz the Law has won all four of his races as a three-year-old, including the 1¼-mile Travers Stakes in early August. His only loss came as a two-year-old last November, though it’s worth noting that it did come at Churchill Downs.
Still, the Barclay Tagg-trained horse is carrying a ton of momentum into Saturday’s race.
“He’s just so dominating that it’s a breathtaking, wow sort of moment,” NBC Sports’ Randy Moss told Tom Pedulla of America’s Best Racing. “I think he is a very, very good horse. And I think he’s got an outstanding chance not only to win the Kentucky Derby but to sweep the Pandemic Triple Crown.”
It’s fun to back the underdog, but Tiz the Law is the favorite for a reason.
Tiz the Law – 1st
Honor A. P. – 2nd
Thousand Words – 3rd