IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr.’s undefeated Big Brown was installed as the 3-1 morning line favorite Wednesday afternoon over 19 rivals for Saturday’s 134th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) at Churchill Downs.
The first leg of Thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown will carry a total purse of $2,211,800 with $1,451,800 going to the winner if all 20 horses start. Post time is 6:04 p.m. (EDT) and the race will be carried by NBC from 4-6:30 p.m.
The field will include one filly: Fox Hill Farms’ Eight Belles, who brings a four-race win streak into her first match-up against males. In the long history of America’s most famous race, only three fillies have managed to win: Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980) and Winning Colors (1988).
Trained by Rick Dutrow, Big Brown has won his three career starts by a combined 29 lengths. His third triumph came in his stakes debut, the Grade I Florida Derby that he captured by five lengths.
Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Kent Desormeaux has the mount on Big Brown, who will break from post position 20.
Eight Belles, who also was entered in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, will be ridden by Gabriel Saez for trainer Larry Jones. Jones saddled Fox Hill’s Hard Spun to a runner-up finish behind Street Sense in the 2007 Kentucky Derby.
Eight Belles will break from post position five and is 20-1 on the morning line.
Second choice on Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia’s line is WinStar Farm’s Colonel John at 4-1. Winner of the Santa Anita Derby (GI) in his most recent start, Colonel John has compiled a career mark of 6-4-2-0 for trainer Eoin Harty.
Corey Nakatani, who has ridden Colonel John to three of his career victories, including the Santa Anita score, has the mount and will break from post position 10.
Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Pyro, winner of the Risen Star (GIII) and Louisiana Derby (GII) at Fair Grounds this year, is the third choice on the morning line at 6-1.
One of two colts trained by Steve Asmussen, Pyro enters the Kentucky Derby off a 10th-place showing in the April 12 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) at Keeneland in his only start over a synthetic surface. Shaun Bridgmohan will ride Pyro and break from post position nine.
Asmussen’s other entrant is Zayat Stables’ Z Fortune, runner-up in the Arkansas Derby (GII) at Oaklawn Park on April 12 in his most recent start, will have Robby Albarado in the saddle and break from post position six.
Three trainers will be attempting to sniff the roses again.
Nick Zito, a two-time Kentucky Derby winner thanks to Strike the Gold in 1991 and Go for Gin in 1994, has two starters in Derby 134. He will saddle Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Anak Nakal, who will be ridden by Rafael Bejarano, and Robert LaPenta’s Cool Coal Man, who will be handled by Julien Leparoux.
Michael Matz, who saddled 2006 Derby victor Barbaro, is back with Team Valor International and Vision Racing’s Visionaire, with Jose Lezcano on board. Barclay Tagg, conditioner of 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide, returns with two entrants: Eric Fein and Barry Elberg’s Big Truck, to be ridden by Javier Castellano, and Charles Fipke’s Tale of Ekati, with Eibar Coa.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has saddled 19 Kentucky Derby starters, has two entrants this year. Starlight Stable, Donald Lucarelli and Paul Saylor’s Monba won the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (GI) in his most recent start with fellow Pletcher trainee Cowboy Cal, owned by Stonerside Stable, finishing second.
In addition to Desormeaux, riders who tallied in the past three runnings of the Kentucky Derby will be seeking to post their second triumphs in the race.
Calvin Borel, who won last year, will ride Mr. and Mrs. William K. Warren Jr.’s Denis of Cork; Edgar Prado, who rode Barbaro, has the mount on Courtlandt Farms’ Adriano; and Mike Smith, who piloted Giacomo to a 50-1 upset in 2005, has the assignment on Cubanacan Stables’ Gayego.