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Our runner-by-runner guide to the 2020 Kentucky Derby

| 03.09.2020

We preview the main contenders in this year’s Run for the Roses

The rescheduled Kentucky Derby takes centre stage this weekend, with the Run for the Roses taking place just after midnight on Sunday at Churchill Downs.

A field of 18 runners are scheduled to take to the track for this year’s renewal, with Tiz The Law looking like the one to beat.

Ahead of this weekend’s race, we’ve cast our eyes over the main contenders for the race with a runner-by-runner guide.

Tiz The Law | Barclay Tegg | Manuel Franco | 4/6

Each of the last seven Kentucky Derby races have been won by the favourite, including last year’s renewal, before a subsequent disqualification took the win away from Maximum Security.

As the odds-on favourite ahead of the race, Tiz The Law will be looking to continue that streak here. Form stands in the three-year-old colts’ favour, easily romping to victory in the highest level of racing Stateside.

He’s managed two impressive Grade 1 wins in the Florida Derby and Belmont Stakes, as well as notching another win in the Holy Bull Stakes.

Last time out, he managed to win over the 10 furlongs in the Travers Stakes and looks to be improving with every stride.

He’s tasted defeat on the Churchill Downs course before, the only defeat of his career to date, but the ground and weather looks much better suited to his style so heads in as the rightful favourite.

Honor A.P. | John Shirreffs | Mike E Smith | 11/2

The John Shirreffs-trained Honor A.P appears to be the likeliest to challenge the favourite at the front of the pack, and boasts an impressive formbook heading into the race too.

Other than his disappointing run in the Shared Belief Stakes, where both trip and race pace went against him, he’s picked up some impressive wins in the build up to the Kentucky Derby.

He ran an immaculate race to take home the Santa Anita Derby a few months ago, piecing together a performance which shows he’s got the legs for the extra furlong going at Churchill.

It’s not the first time jockey and trainer have come together for the race either, with the partnership getting together on Giacomo in 2005. He subsequently also lost his final race in the build up but that didn’t stop his quest for victory.

Authentic | Bob Baffert | John Velazquez | 10/1

Trainer Bob Baffert has five previous Kentucky Derby wins to his name, and he’s sending out Authentic here as his best chance of training a sixth winner.

The three-year-old colt has managed some impressive wins in Graded races, including the Grade 3 Sham Stakes, Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and Grade 1 Haskell Stakes.

He’s gone four from five in his previous races, falling just shy of Honor A.P. in the Santa Anita Derby in June.

Despite winning the Haskell Stakes last time out, he started to fade towards the end, and given the extra furlong on offer here, he needs to find more to compete at the front of the field. The stamina is the main concern to his challenge.

Ny Traffic | Saffie Joseph Jr. | Paco Lopez | 14/1

Saffie Joseph Jr. has trained Ny Traffic to become a hugely consistent runner this season. Unfortunately, he’s consistently the runner up, finishing second in his last three.

One of those includes the Haskell Stakes, finishing just a nose behind Authentic, but with both remerging here, the extra furlong could prove pivotal to his challenge.

His finishing speed on that day seemed impressive, but that could have been emphasised by Authentic falling away. There are huge doubts as to whether he has the same speed over the final furlongs as the favourites.

There’s still more potential to come, and Paco Lopez could be the one to get of him. His run in the Haskell proved he’s got something, and with the stamina, he shouldn’t fade away and could challenge in the Derby.

Thousand Words | Bob Baffert | Florent Gerouz | 16/1

Another challenger from Bob Baffert, Thousand Words has beaten the main contender to the favourite on track already. He beat Honor A.P. at Del Mar in August in a Listed race, but he’s not yet managed a Grade 1 or 2 win as a three-year-old.

He could look to lead from the front and control the pace of the race, though there are doubts as to whether he could last over the 10 furlongs being offered here, having struggled over lesser trips in the past.

Should improvement be found, and he last the distance, there’s potential for a shock challenge to Tiz The Law.

King Guillermo | Juan Carlos Avila | Samy Camacho | 20/1

We’ve seen shocks from King Guillermo in the past, so could we see another from the 20/1 longshot here?

He won the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby by just shy of five lengths from Sole Volante, before finishing just shy in the Arkansas Derby shortly after.

Only the now-retired Nadal finished ahead of him that day. He looked a potential Kentucky Derby winner if injury hadn’t ended his career, which made King Guillermo’s second even more noteworthy.

Other notable runners

Todd Pletcher sends out Money Moves for this year’s Kentucky Derby, with the trainer knowing what it takes to win.

There’s still improvement to be had from the three-year-old, especially since he’s lightly-raced, but at 20/1, there’s interest to see how he gets on in a tougher race in higher class.

Max Player runs as a 20/1 contender for Steven Asmussen after transferring from Linda Rice. He’s lost to Tiz The Law before, and he could still be too much in this one but he could finish in the places.

He’s previously enjoyed some impressive wins, especially in the Withers Stakes winning by just over three lengths. A change of running style could increase his chances, but it remains to be seen what the Asmussen camp choose to do.

There have been glimpses of talent shown by Sole Volante, including an impressive turn of pace to finish earlier in the year, but his last run in the Belmont Stakes was less than impressive.

He fell back to finish 16l back of Tiz The Law in that race, ending up sixth from 10 runners. He’s a 25/1 outsider.

View the latest horse racing odds.

All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.



Drew Goodsell

Drew is a journalism graduate who closely follows American sports, focussing on the NBA and NFL. He also has a keen interest in all things football, paying regular attention to the Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1.