Kentucky Derby Preview Tonight at 11.46 UK time, a maximum field of 20 runners will face the starter for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby, affectionately known as The Run For The Roses. This highlight of the US racing calendar is a Grade 1 contest over a mile and a quarter and is worth a cool $2 million.
Unlike last year, when there was a standout winner in Nyquist, this year’s renewal looks much more open with positives and negatives for all the major fancied horses. Classic Empire (drawn 14) is the likely favourite and is trading at about the 5/1 level.
He was the champion US two year old and won one of the major trial races, the Arkansas Derby. However, there are issues with his temperament and his win in the Ark Derby was workmanlike rather than spectacular although, to be fair, he didn’t get the best of trips.
The great race assessor Beyer only gave him a mark of 94, which should not be enough to win the Run For The Roses. My selection is Irish War Cry (drawn 17), who is best priced 8/1 with Ladbrokes and Corals. He is by the champion sire Curlin and is guaranteed to stay this stiff 10 furlongs. He ran a stinker at Gulfstream in the Fountain of Youth but rocketed back to form in the Wood Memorial.
He can come from behind or run up with the pace and is the only horse to post two Beyers in excess of 100.