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On Saturday evening, horse-racing fanatics and casual fans alike will tune in to see the action from Churchill Downs when the 144th edition of the Kentucky Derby takes place.
The event captures the attention of so many across the globe, as it’s a race that bristles with tradition, high-quality racing and, so often, drama in spades. Those in attendance on Saturday under the iconic twin spires will hope for no different in 2018.
In recent years, the favourites have fared well in the Run for the Roses, although it’s a race with a penchant for producing surprise heroes.
To ensure you don’t miss who takes the first leg of the three Triple Crown races, here are all the key viewing details for the Kentucky spectacle and a look ahead at what to expect from the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sport.
Date: Saturday, May 5
Post Time: 6:34 p.m. (ET)/11:34 p.m. (BST)
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra (U.S.)
TV Info: NBCSN (U.S.), At The Races (UK)
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The competition’s Twitter account broke down what horse will be in what gate come the start on Saturday:
Kentucky Derby @KentuckyDerby
1 Firenze Fire 2 Free Drop Billy 3 Promises Fulfilled 4 Flameaway 5 Audible 6 Good Magic 7 Justify 8 Lone Sailor 9 Hofburg 10 My Boy Jack 11 Bolt d’Oro 12 Enticed 13 Bravazo 14 Mendelssohn 15 Instilled Regard 16 Magnum Moon 17 Solomini 18 Vino Rosso 19 Noble Indy 20 Combatant https://t.co/nqvKNRypwe
While the post time has traditionally been 6:34 p.m., it’s not anticipated the race will get underway until around 6:46 p.m., per Kenan Govette of SportingNews.com.
When that moment comes, with the horses settled into their respective gates and when Churchill Downs holds its collective breath, there aren’t many finer sights in sport. Within a couple of minutes, one horse and one jockey will be etching their name into history.
For trainers, too, it’s a huge day, and a year ago Todd Pletcher watched Always Dreaming seize glory. In 2018, he has another serious contender running in Audible.
There are trends similar to Always Dreaming with this horse, too. Like the previous winner, Audible won at Holy Bull and in the Florida Derby. As noted by Daily Racing Form‘s Barbara Livingston, he’s settled in well at Churchill Downs:
Barbara Livingston @DRFLivingston
AUDIBLE settles in comfortably to his @ChurchillDowns digs with a rolling session. Trainer Todd Pletcher. #KentuckyDerby https://t.co/RngPTktAKp
The competition is fierce this year, though. Not only does Pletcher have three other contenders in Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso, the unbeaten Magnum Moon and Noble Indy, there are other horses who appear in blistering pre-race form.
Mendelssohn has produced perhaps the best performance in 2018 of any horse in the field, crushing the rest in Meydan to win the UAE Derby by 18 lengths. With the experienced Aidan O’Brien training him and Ryan Moore set to be on board on Derby day, he has an excellent chance.
However, as relayed here by Daily Racing Form‘s Brad Free, horses that have prepared for Churchill Downs in Dubai haven’t typically performed well on the big day:
Brad Free @BradFree1
Can runaway UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn become the first Dubai shipper to win the Kentucky Derby? Or, will he join list of top horses that fell short? Notwithstanding Meydan bias on Saturday, Mendelssohn sure looks like the real deal. (Daily Racing Form graphic) https://t.co/lflirRWD7u
There are other trends that’ll need bucking if one of the favourite is going to win on Saturday, though, including the 136-year-old Apollo curse.
Since Apollo won the race in 1882, no horse has won the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a two yea old. Justify, who leads the betting in the buildup to the race, made his debut as a three-year-old.
Still, the Bob Baffert-trained colt has been so good in his three outings so far. The Kentucky Derby Twitter account took a look at whether he has it in him to end this longstanding jinx:
Kentucky Derby @KentuckyDerby
Will Magnum Moon or Justify break Apollo’s Curse? our #KyDerby experts discuss…. https://t.co/gE7AMcMtC5
A little further down in the betting, there is some value to be had. Bolt d’Oro was a runner-up to Justify at the Santa Anita Derby and, in a bigger field, could make something special happen.
With Victor Espinoza on board, the jockey who steered American Pharoah to Triple Crown history in 2015, there’s tons of experience to call upon, too.