LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bob Baffert times three. In a Kentucky Derby lacking a dominant favorite, the two-time Triple Crown-winning trainer saddles the top three choices.
On what could be a wet day at Churchill Downs, Game Winner is the pre-race favorite, albeit a tepid one at 9-2. Improbable and Roadster were installed as the co-second choices at 5-1.
“Last year we came in here with Justify and we knew it was my race to lose,” Baffert said.
The 19-horse field for the 145th Derby on Saturday reflects the prep season leading to the opening leg of the Triple Crown: no one horse commanded the attention.
“There are a lot of good horses in here,” Baffert said. “They’re a pretty evenly matched group.”
The picture got scrambled again when initial favorite Omaha Beach was scratched because of a breathing problem, dealing a devastating blow to 68-year-old trainer Richard Mandella, whose Hall of Fame resume lacks only a Derby victory.
That prompted the early odds to be redone. The race also lost 30-1 shot Haikal after the colt was scratched with an infected left front foot.
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“This is a crazy game and anything can happen,” said Bret Calhoun, who trains By My Standards. “We just have to hold our breaths until we get there.”
War of Will benefited slightly from Haikal’s scratch. He won’t have to start in the No. 1 post, which will be left vacant. The field will break from posts 2 through 20.
A win by any of Baffert’s trio would tie him with Ben Jones for the most Derby victories with six. He would become the first trainer to win the race in consecutive years twice. His last back-to-back winners were in 1997 and ’98.
Baffert won last year’s Derby – the rainiest on record – with Justify. Saturday’s forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of rain and a high of 66 degrees (18 Celsius).
It sure looks like anybody’s soggy race this time.
“It’s whoever gets the trip,” Baffert said of the 1 -mile journey. “Especially now that it’s going to rain, we don’t know what is going to happen. It’s too bad the weather is not going to work with us.”
Game Winner finished second to Roadster in the …read more
Source:: Daily Times