It’s almost time for ‘the most exciting two minutes in sports’ — the Kentucky Derby! Will Tactitus taste victory, or will Roadster drive over the competition? Before the ‘Run For The Roses,’ get to know all the horses in this year’s derby.
Is it too soon to place your bets? The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby takes place on May 4, and over 100,000 people will flock to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky to watch 20 horses race for a spot in the history books. While it’s probably too soon to make a wager – the post positions haven’t even been assigned yet – it’s never too early to learn about the majestic animals running this year. After last year’s race, which saw Justify begin his historic run for Triple Crown, these horses have a lot to live up to. Will someone follow in Justify’s hoofprints?
Maybe! Tacitus scored the most points when qualified for the Kentucky Derby with 150. The son of a three-time leading sire (Tapit) and of a champion racemare named Close Hatches, the gray colt’s pedigree shown through in the runs leading up to the derby. The horse won the Wood at Aqueduct and the Tampa Bay Derby, but early odds don’t peg him as the favorite. At first, it seemed to be a toss-up between Omaha Beach and Roadster. Omaha won the Arkansas Derby on April 13, racking up 100 points, which was a “muddy affair,” according to the Kentucky Derby’s official website. However, just one day before the race, it was revealed that Omaha would not be racing due to a “breathing problem.”
The Kentucky Derby – along with mint juleps and celebrities in extravagant hats – is known for horses with hilarious names. This year is no different, as Long Range Toddy, Tax, Win Win Win, Gray Magician and fitting enough, a horse with the name Cutting Humor, are all running. So are Plus Que Parfait, By My Standards, Maximum Security, Code of Honor, Haikal, and Improbable.
Most positions within the Derby starting gate are earned on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of designated races first introduced in 2013. The seven major prep races are the Louisiana Derby, the UAE Derby, the Florida Derby, the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass Stakes, the Santa Anita Derby, and the Arkansas Derby. Horses can also qualify for the Derby by the European and Japan Road. Unfortunately, none of the horses on the European Road accepted the offers, and the top three finishers in the Japan Road also declined to run in the Kentucky Derby. However, the fourth-place finisher, Master Fencer, accepted the offer, making the 145th Derby the first time that a Japanese-bred horse has competed in the Run for the Roses.