American Pharoah and Dortmund, both trained by three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert, were installed as the morning line favorites in a field 20 horses and two also-eligibles entered Wednesday for the Kentucky Derby.
Post time for the Derby, the 11th of 13 races Saturday, is 6:34 ET. Gates open Saturday at 8 a.m. with the first race scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid-70s under sunny skies.
The Kentucky Derby will be carried by NBC Sports with a 3 1/2-hour telecast from 4-7:30 p.m. The winner of the first leg of the Triple Crown with 20 will receive $1,443,800, according to Churchill Downs.
American Pharoah, the 5-2 favorite on Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia’s morning line, brings a four-race win streak into the Run for the Roses.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza in all four of those wins that have come by a combined 22 1/4 lengths, American Pharoah has captured the Del Mar Futurity, the FrontRunner, the Rebel and most recently the Arkansas Derby.
Espinoza, who will bring American Pharoah out of post position 18, will be shooting for consecutive Derby victories. He won last year aboard California Chrome.
Baffert, whose three Derby victories are comprised of Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and War Emblem (2002), also will send out Dortmund, whose six-for-six record includes an allowance win at Churchill Downs last fall. Dortmund is the second choice on the morning line at 3-1.
Martin Garcia has been aboard for all of Dortmund's victories that include grade I scores in the Santa Anita Derby and Los Alamitos Futurity as well as the Robert B. Lewis and San Felipe. Dortmund will break from post position 8.
Baffert is not the only trainer in this year’s Derby seeking to add to his victory total in the race.
Todd Pletcher, who won the 2010 renewal with Super Saver, is topping Baffert’s number of runners with a quartet of his own in Carpe Diem, Materiality, Itsaknockout and Stanford.
Carpe Diem, a winner of four of five career starts and third choice on the morning line at 8-1, enters the Derby off his second grade I victory, the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, the same track where he took the Breeders’ Futurity last fall. John Velazquez, who has ridden Carpe Diem in all of his starts, has the call Saturday and will break from post 2 in search of his second Derby win. Velazquez won the 2011 running aboard Animal Kingdom.
Materiality, the co-fourth choice on the morning line at 12-1 with Firing Line, is undefeated in three career starts, highlighted by a victory in the Florida Derby in his most recent start. Javier Castellano has the mount and will break from post 3.
Luis Saez has the mount on Itsaknockout and will exit post 13. Florent Geroux will ride Stanford and break from post 11.
The other grade I winner in the field is Frosted. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Frosted won the Wood Memorial in his most recent start under Joel Rosario. Rosario, who won the 2013 Derby on Orb, retains the mount Saturday and will break from post 15.
Adding more international flavor to this year’s Derby is the presence of Mubtaahij (IRE), trained by South African Michael de Kock.
A winner of four of five starts on dirt at Meydan in Dubai including the UAE Derby by eight lengths in his most recent start, Mubtaahij will be ridden by Christophe Soumillon and break from post 6.
In addition to Baffert and Pletcher, two other trainers will be seeking to boost their Derby victory totals.
D. Wayne Lukas, a four-time with Winning Colors (1988), Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone (1996) and Charismatic (1999), will send out Mr. Z with Ramon Vazquez riding.
Nick Zito, who took the 1991 Derby with Strike the Gold and the 1994 running with Go for Gin, trains Frammento, the first also-eligible and will be ridden by Corey Nakatani if he draws into the race.
Besides Espinoza, Velazquez and Rosario, four other riders will attempt to add to their Derby win totals. Three of the four have won the race three times: Calvin Borel, Gary Stevens and Kent Desormeaux.
Borel, who won with Street Sense in 2007, Mine That Bird in 2009 and Super Saver in 2010 will ride El Kabeir and break from post 7.
Stevens, a winner on Winning Colors in 1988, Thunder Gulch in 1995 and Silver Charm in 1997, will pilot Firing Line and break from post 10.
Desormeaux, the winning rider in 1998 on Real Quiet, Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000 and Big Brown in 2008, will ride Keen Ice and break from post 14.
Mike Smith, who will ride Far Right out of post position 20, won the 2005 Derby on Giacomo.
Edited Churchill Downs release