The Kentucky Derby is one of the most renowned horse racing events in the world and takes place every year in Louisville, Kentucky. This event has been dubbed “The Run for the Roses” as a result of the garland of roses that gets draped on the winner. From a technical perspective, the Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes horse race for thoroughbreds who are three years of age. The first Derby took place in 1875 and its 146 derbies, a local Louisville trainer has never received the iconic rose garland or title. Brad Cox, a Louisville resident and trainer, has shared his hopes to change that.
Brad Cox has entered two of his trained horses for the Grade 1 Derby, set to take place this Saturday. One of these entries is a favourite for the title, Essential Quality, who is a 2-year-old undefeated champion. He has won a handful of Breeders’ Cup events in his career this far but has never walked away with a Triple Crown race title before. Cox’s two entries for this coming Derby are his first two Derby horses, Mandaloun and Essential Quality. When asked about the event, Cox shared that he is not feeling any anxiety as yet but is overcome with excitement. According to his statement. The Derby week has been a lot of fun and he is excited and honoured to be a part of the event in the role of a trainer. There are several prep races before the main Derby takes place where the winning horse will receive 100 points that will be used to qualify it for the grand event, with the Blue Grass being one of these prep races. Essential Quality has been identified as a favourite to win one, or even more, of these races. Essential Quality will be ridden by Luis Saez and will be behind gate 14 for the race. Cox stated earlier that this is a good position for Essential Quality as he has excellent tactical speed that will assist him in gaining an advantage from that point.
However, Essential Quality is not the only undefeated colt from the group of 19 but he is one of the most accomplished. Last year, Essential Quality was the victor of two Grade 1 races and one of these was the Breeders’ Cup. For this year, the horse has won two prep races, a Southwest Stakes Grade 3 race event and the Grade 2 race at Keeneland, Blue Grass.
An oddsmaker from Churchill Downs, Mike Battaglia, set the morning-line favourite in favour of Essential Quality 2-1. However, his odds are expected to drop once Jim McIngvale places his million-dollar wager on him. At the time of this story, Mattress Mack had already forked out $500,000 in preparation for his Friday wager. The large field of 19 horses brings about many variables and could result in several outcomes. However, the best rival for Essential Quality is likely the horse that will be in the gate next to number 14. Rock Your World is another undefeated colt that just recently secured an impressive win at the Santa Anita Derby Grade 1 and is trained by John Sadler. It is worth noting that this was only Rock Your World’s third race and his first experience racing on dirt. Sadler shared that he had opted to switch jockeys which is likely the reason for the 5-1 morning-line odds. According to analysts, this switch could result in a different outcome that Sadler is aware of based on his statement. Sadler shared that Umberto Rispoli is still a phenomenal rider who has helped the horse and trainer win several races and their first derby. However, the data suggest that Joel Rosario’s analytics could be more beneficial for the Kentucky Derby and Sadler is willing to risk it all on this chance.
Rock Your World is not Essential Quality’s only competition. Known Agenda, trained by Todd Pletcher, had morning line-odds of 6-1. Unfortunately, the winner of the Florida Derby drew the inside gate which means that Known Agenda will need to have an exceptionally strong start to his race if he hopes to avoid the rail crowds of the 18 other competitors. Pletcher shared that while it is not what he hoped for, the installation of the new gate could be an improvement and the post might not have disastrous results for Known Agenda or his rider, Irad Ortiz.
Hot Rod Charlie will also be participating in the Kentucky Derby and will be emerging from gate nine. This horse has only two career wins for his career but surprised many when he took the Louisiana Derby title in March this year. Hot Rod Charlie will be ridden by Flavian Prat and has been trained by Doug O’Neill.
While the above mentioned horses are considered the favourites, the next tier of derby participants should not be taken lightly as one of them could pull off an amazing Derby victory. For those who are planning to wager, Industry analysts and bookmakers have indicated that the next tier would be perfect for exotic bets.
A horse by the name of Highly Motivated gave Essential Quality a run for his money in the Blue Grass prep race until the favourite managed to catch him towards the end of the race. This horse will be in post 16th for the Derby, is ridden by one Javier Castellano and has undergone his training with Chad Brown. Mandaloun, one of Cox’s first horses and second entry to the derby, came in 6th at the Louisiana Derby but has a grade stakes win, as well as two others victories, under his belt. Mandaloun will be ridden by Florent Geroux and has 15-1 morning-line odds.
Lastly, bettors should not count out six-time Kentucky Derby winner, Bob Baffert, out of the race. Baffert’s horse, Medina Spirit, recently came in second after Rock Your World in the event at Santa Anita and will be ridden by John Velazquez with morning-line odds of 15-1.