Kentucky Derby is On With Empty Grandstand as Backdrop

Kentucky Derby

A field of 16 line up for the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby with no fans in attendance. (Photo credit: Churchill Downs/Coady Photography).

The 146th Kentucky Derby (G1) will be run on Saturday without the usual 150,000 fans packed under the Twin Spires, an empty grandstand at Churchill Downs the backdrop.

Moved from the first Saturday of May to the first Saturday of September, the Run for the Roses will be contested in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and amid protests in Louisville over racial injustice and the killing of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police during the serving of a “no knock” warrant.

At least four groups have stated they will protest on Saturday in Louisville. The groups include the Justice and Freedom Coalition, Until Freedom, Black Lives Matter and the Not F***ing Around (NFAC).

Traditionally the Triple Crown spans five weeks but in this crazy 2020 it will now be contested over 15 weeks, and Tiz the Law comes into this year’s Kentucky Derby having already won the first jewel, taking the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 20, which was run at 1 1/8 miles, shorter than the traditional distance of 1 1/2 miles.

For good measure Tiz the Law won the Travers (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 8 and likely will go off as the shortest priced favorite in the Kentucky Derby in a half century.

Art Collector Out

His job as the favorite got easier this week with the defection of Art Collector, who was not entered after developing a minor foot issue. The colt likely would have been the second betting choice in the race.

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Then King Guillermo spiked a fever on Thursday and will scratch. The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner was 20-1 on the morning line.

The colt had been working well and making a good appearance at Churchill Downs this week. He is trained by Juan Carlos Avila and owned by former major league baseball player Victor Martinez.

“The sad part is that Juan said yesterday was his best day here,” Martinez said. “When we left the track in the morning following training and came back in the afternoon for feed time, we discovered he had a fever. It’s just the sad part about this game.”

This morning 50-1 longshot Finnick the Firce was scratched.

So, a field of 16 will line up on Saturday, with Tiz the Law the obvious one to beat as he attempts to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive. His trainer Barclay Tagg trained Funny Cide, the 2013 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner who came up short in the Belmont Stakes.

Tiz the Law Wins Belmont Stakes

Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is seeking a record tying sixth win in the Derby. He sends out Haskell Invitational (G1) winner Authentic (8-1) and Thousand Words (15-1), winner of the Robert. B. Lewis (G3) and Shared Belief.

“They’re coming off of wins and that’s very important,” Baffert said. “And you need to, you need to be at your best right now. That’s why they’re doing well.”

The second choice in the race is Honor A.P. (5-1), winner of the Santa Anita Derby (G1) who came up short to Thousand Words in a runner up finish in the Shared Belief in his last Derby prep. The colt is trained by John Shirreffs, who pulled off the upset in the 2005 Derby with Giacomo, who returned $102.60.

Favorites Have Dominated Recently

The post time favorite won the Derby six years in a  row from 2013 to 2018 before Improbable came up short last year as the 4-1 favorite, checking in fifth and placed fourth with the disqualification of Maximum Security, who was the 9-2 second choice.

That gave the victory to Country House, who returned $132.40, the second biggest upset in Derby history. Donerail paid $184.90 in 1913. Mine That Bird returned $103.20 in 2009, the third biggest upset in the race.

The Kentucky Derby is one of seven stakes on the 14-race card on Saturday. Post time for the opener is 11:00am ET.

Among the other stars competing on Saturday include the Chad Brown trained Newspaperofrecord in the Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2), Serengeti Empress and Bellafina in the Derby City Distaff (G1) and Factor This in the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic (G1).

There is plenty of television coverage of Saturday’s action starting at 11:00am to 2:00 ET on FS1, 2:00 p.m.-4:00 on FS2 and 4:00 to 6:30 back on FS1. NBC will cover the Kentucky Derby during a five-hour telecast that gets underway at 2:30 ET. Post time for the Run for the Roses is 7:01 ET.

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NTRA Top Thoroughbred Poll

No. Horse Points
1 Flightline 351
2 Life Is Good 306
3 Olympiad 292
4 Jackie's Warrior 282
5 Clairiere 142
5 Country Grammer 142
7 Epicenter 121
8 Regal Glory 89
9 Nest 87
10 Hot Rod Charlie 48
As of August 1, 2022

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