There’s nothing in Horse Racing quite like the Kentucky Derby, and the rescheduled Run for the Roses is almost upon us with post time set at 12:01am on Sunday 6th September here in the UK.
No British or Irish-trained horses have made the trip over to Churchill Downs for this year’s renewal, but it’s still shaping up to be an absolute cracker, with Tiz The Law the one they all need to beat.
Can anyone overcome the overwhelming odds-on favourite? We’ve previewed the 2020 Kentucky Derby with a runner-by-runner guide to the main contenders ahead of the much-anticipated off.
17 | Tiz The Law | Barclay Tagg | Manuel Franco | 4/6
The odds compilers rarely get it wrong in the Kentucky Derby. Including Maximum Security, who finished first but was subsequently disqualified 12 months ago, each of the last seven renewals have been won by the favourite.
Tiz The Law looks well-placed to extend that record in a three-year-old season which has seen the Barclay Tagg-trained runner blow away the competition at the highest level of American racing.
Victory in the Holy Bull Stakes was followed by success at Grade 1 level in both the Florida Derby and the Belmont Stakes before he scored again over an extended 1m 2f trip in the Travers Stakes last time out. He won those races by a combined total of 17¼l, looking better and better with every run.
His only career defeat came at Churchill on sloppy ground as a two-year-old, but the weather looks fine this weekend, and we think it’ll take a monumental performance to stop the favourite from justifying his odds.
16 | Honor A.P. | John Shirreffs | Mike E Smith | 5/1
For many, Honor A.P. is the only real threat to Tiz The Law. The son of Honor Code ran on powerfully to win the Santa Anita Derby in June and looks ideally suited to the extra furlong on offer at Churchill Downs.
It’s possible to ignore his subsequent run in the Shared Belief Stakes, with both the trip and the pace of the race working against him in what was otherwise a solid prep-run for Saturday.
His main threat to Tiz The Law comes in the form of his tactical speed, and if the three-year-old who is descended from the great Secretariat is in position on the turn for home, he has every chance.
Jockey Mike Smith and trainer John Shirreffs teamed up to win the race with Giacomo in 2005, a horse who was also beaten in his final prep before the Run for the Roses.
18 | Authentic | Bob Baffert | John Velazquez | 11/1
Five-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert saddles two runners in this year’s renewal, with Authentic deemed by our traders to be his likeliest chance of victory.
The Into Mischief colt is four from five heading into this following wins in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and most recently the Grade 1 Haskell Stakes.
He beat the likeable Ny Traffic in his latest start but was weakening towards the line and coupled with his reversal against Honor A.P. over 1m 1f previously, he has work to do.
John Velazquez’s mount likes to front run, which could also be a problem with a draw in stall 18. There are further doubts about his stamina over this trip too.
15 | Ny Traffic | Saffie Joseph Jr. | Paco Lopez | 14/1
Ny Traffic has developed a bout of seconditus this season. The Saffie Joseph-trained colt has finished runner-up on his last three starts, including when touched off in the Haskell Stakes.
He posted a huge effort to push Authentic all the way and would’ve won with an extra furlong, but there are doubts over whether he has the same finishing speed as Tiz The Law or Honor A.P.
It’ll take another huge chunk of improvement for him to win this, but his run at Monmouth proved that he’s a gallant type, and he won’t go away easily at Churchill either.
10 | Thousand Words | Bob Baffert | Florent Gerouz | 16/1
Bob Baffert’s second runner took the scalp of Honor A.P. at Del Mar in August, but that was in a Listed prep-race over 1m ½f, and he’s yet to win above Grade 3 level as a three-year-old.
Connections will be hoping for a solid break which may allow him to front run and dictate the race, although after flopping in his sole try over 1m 1f, there are doubts over his ability to stay 1m 2f.
2 | Max Player | Steven Asmussen | Ricardo Santanta Jr | 25/1
Max Player will have to reverse the form with hot favourite Tiz The Law if he’s to claim a shock derby victory, but that isn’t beyond the realms of possibility with his old rival stuck in stall 17.
Steve Asmussen’s hopeful as twice finished behind the jolly in both the Belmont Stakes and the Travers, although he has since been switched to a new trainer from Linda Rice.
He’ll need a strong pace and for things to wrong in behind to have a chance, although with the majority of the market principals drawn high, it’s not an entirely unrealistic proposition.
7 | Money Moves | Todd Pletcher | Javier Castellano | 25/1
Todd Pletcher knows what it takes to win a Kentucky Derby, so he must think extremely highly of Money Moves to throw the lightly-raced three-year-old in at the deep end like this.
He’s won and shown improvement on two starts in minor company at 6f and 1m; this is much tougher, but it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on significantly up in class.
Favourites have an excellent record in the Kentucky Derby, as we’ve already alluded to, and this would appear to be Tiz The Law’s to lose. Barclay Tagg’s runner has by far-and-away the best form on offer, even if everything has gone perfectly to plan for him in his career so far.
A difficult draw surrounded by runners who’ll look to set the early pace could hinder his chances, but that’s unlikely to be too much of a problem for a horse who is all class and has devastating finishing speed. Honor A.P. would appear to be his biggest challenger, with outsider Ny Traffic is also set to run well at a price.
Kentucky Derby Information
Where is the Kentucky Derby: Churchill Downs, Kentucky, United States.
When is the Kentucky Derby: 12:01am (UK Time), Sunday 6th September
Where can I watch the Kentucky Derby: Sky Sports Racing
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication