The Kentucky Derby is one of the most prestigious horse racing events on the calendar, attracting some of the best horses in the world competing for the $3 million purse.
Traditionally held on the first Saturday of May, this year’s race has been postponed until September. So, with a few months before ‘The Run for the Roses’ takes place, here is a complete guide to the race, including favorites, betting odds, and trends to consider.
What is the Kentucky Derby?
The Kentucky Derby is an annual horse race held at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky. Typically held on the first Saturday of May, the 2020 race has been postponed until September 5 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Kentucky Derby has been nicknamed ‘The Run of the Roses’ as the winning horse is draped in roses in the winners circle. The race is the first leg in America’s Triple Crown, also including the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
The total prize money for the 2020 Kentucky Derby is $3 million, with the winner earning $1.86 million. This year’s race will be the 146th edition.
A Group I race for three-year-old thoroughbreds, the Kentucky Derby is run over one-and-a-quarter mile on a dirt track.
Who qualifies for the Kentucky Derby?
To determine the 20 participants who will take their places in the starting gates, horses have to qualify on the Road to the Kentucky Derby – a series of races with points awarded. In total, 35 races take place around the world with points awarded to the top four horses in each race. At the end of the series, the 20 horses with the most points qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
However, due to the spread of the coronavirus, the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby prompted the cancellation of numerous prep races. Organizers are deciding whether to host qualifying races in the weeks leading up to the Derby.
Which horses lead the standings?
At the time of writing and with the Kentucky Derby postponed until September, these are the horses in order of 1-20 that would qualify for the race: Nadal, Tiz the Law, Wells Bayou, Charlatan, King Guillermo, Ete Indien, Modernist, Authentic, Mr. Monomoy, Basin, Mischievous Alex, Ny Traffic, Shivaree, Gouverneur Morris, Enforceable, Storm the Court, Sole Volante, Major Fred, Thousand Words, and Finnick the Fierce.
Are the horses leading the standings also the race favorites?
By and large, yes but with a few exceptions. According to the latest Kentucky Derby odds on Twinspires.com, most bookmakers have Nadal, Charlatan (both 5/1), Tiz the Law (6/1), and Authentic (15/2) as the standout favorites for the Derby. As you can see from the standings, the three race favorites are in the top four of the standings, while Authentic is in eighth place.
However, Wells Bayou, third in the Road to Kentucky Derby standings, is way down with most bookmakers, with odds around 25/1. After the top four, who all have similar odds, the fifth favorite for the 2020 Kentucky Derby is Mischievous Alex at 12/1, representing a big leap from the top four and the rest of the field.
Do the favorites usually win the Kentucky Derby?
This is a key aspect to consider when the time comes to decide your picks for the 2020 Kentucky Derby. It is worth noting that, like the average across horse racing, favorites win the Kentucky Derby around one-third of the time. However, what is interesting is that, between 2013 and 2018, the favorites won the race six years in a row.
Prior to that streak, though, it was 20 years since the favorite won the Kentucky Derby, which is an even stranger anomaly. So, while the Kentucky Derby is a special race, it is just as prone to anomalies and strange streaks as any other race.
Who are the experts backing to win the 2020 Kentucky Derby?
Interestingly, of the six experts who feature on the official Kentucky Derby website, four of them are tipping Tiz the Law to win the 2020 race in September, while one is backing Nadal, and the other is going bold and pinning his hopes on the 16/1 Maxfield.
However, the interesting thing to note is that all six experts have got at least three of the top-four favorites to place in their top five each way places, so it would be a monumental surprise if a couple of the favorites are not in contention.
One of the most important things to consider at this stage, though, is that odds are prone to fluctuate in the lead-up to a major race and the Kentucky Derby is no different. Spend the days and weeks leading up to the race gathering as much information as possible that can help influence your betting decisions.
Just because the majority of experts are tipping Tiz the Law now, does not mean the horse will still be favorite or the best-fancied when the race takes place. On the other hand, maybe it will: it is all about keeping on top of the trends and latest developments.