The Kentucky Derby puts the spotlight on the Bluegrass State on the first Saturday in May. For the past 149 years, it’s always been that way.
Honestly, it’s the only time of the year I pay attention to horse racing, even though I was born and raised in Kentucky.
I don’t wager on the horses and I have only covered two Kentucky Derby races in my lifetime. It was an enjoyable experience, but I would much rather watch the race at home. It’s a long week for some of my television and print media colleagues and many of them work continuously during the week leading up to the big race.
The two Derby races I did cover in 2000 and 2015 it made for a long day leading up to the main race. I did enjoy the spectators dressed in their Sunday best attire, not to mention the hats the ladies wear to match their attire.
What little I do know about horse racing; the owners depend heavily on trainers and jockeys to produce a Derby worthy horse. One of the top trainers in the business — Bob Baffert — won’t be part of this year’s field because of a suspension. Churchill Downs prohibited Baffert froin entering a horse at its tracks for two years after Medina Spirit was disqualified from winning the 2021 Derby after failing a drug test following the race.
Brad Cox has four horses entered into the race and is one of the up-and-coming trainers in the business. He won the Derby in 2021 with Mandaln after Medina Spirit was disqualified.
Todd Pletcher has three in the full field of 20 horses, including the early favorite Forte. Pletcher also has Tapit Trice and Kingsbarns.
When trying to determine a favorite, I also look at the name of each horse to make a call before post time. In this year’s field, the attention grabbers include Hit Show, Two Phil’s, which makes me wonder who exactly the Two Phil’s are. Sun Thunder is a unique name, while Raise Cain and Angel of Empire also are intriguing. Practical Move, Cyclone Mischief, Verifying, Confidence Game, King Russell, Mandarin Hero, Lord Miles and Disarm are more like Movie titles.
I do like Forte, Rocket Can — not Man – also is appealing, along with Mage and Jace’s Road. Some of the names are catchy, but picking a winner can be tricky.
This year, I’ll go with trainer experience and pick Forte just for the record.