LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Zandon and filly Nest are morning favorites for the 148th Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks, respectively, at Churchill Downs, which will host both marquee races at full capacity for the first time since 2019.
Zandon, trained by Chad Brown, drew 3-1 on Monday and will start from No. 10 among 20 horses for the $3 million marquee for the 3-year-old. The colt moved up to second in Derby points behind Epicenter after rallying from the back of the pack to win last month’s Blue Grass at Keeneland in Lexington. He has two wins, a second place and a third in four career starts.
Zandon has the “perfect” neutral with Flavien Prat on board, Brown said.
“We’re good to go,” added Brown, entering his eighth Derby looking for his first victory after Good Magic finished third in 2018.
Epicenter was initially expected to be Derby favorites after back-to-back wins at graduated stakes, including the Louisiana Derby in March. The horse is the betting choice 7-2 seconds after shooting the #3 post.
Messier, one of two colts trained by Derby debutant Tim Yakteen after returning to training this spring for suspended Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, is the 8-1 third choice and will start from the No. 6 position.
Yakteen’s other entrant, Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba, is a 12-1 pick for the No. 12 spot.
“They kept us waiting,” Yakteen said, referring to his horses as the final three picks. “But in the end, we drew well.”
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen was just hoping Epicenter could pull away from the rail under jockey Joel Rosario and see where it leads.
“How long it stays in there, how long it takes to load, 150,000 people watching it, that’s a lot,” Asmussen said. “Joel is very confident in the pace of the horse. So if he left clean, Joel will let him be who he is.
This weekend’s races will go ahead without Baffert, who Churchill Downs suspended for two years following Medina Spirit’s failed post-race doping test and eventual disqualification as Derby winner. last year.
Meanwhile, four-time Derby winner coach D. Wayne Lukas has another shot at a fifth win with Ethereal Road, who entered the field on Monday after Un Ojo retired. The 50th Derby Hall of Fame starter and first since Bravazo (sixth in 2018) has some work to do as a 30-1 long shot from the No 20 far post.
Rich Strike and Rattle N Roll are also eligible for pending withdrawals. Saturday posting time is 6:57 p.m. EDT.
For the Oaks, Nest clinched the No. 4 spot among 14 fillies and is the 5-2 favorite for Friday’s $1.25 million, 1 1/8th mile race. Nest is one of three horses trained by Todd Pletcher in the field, along with Goddess of Fire (position No. 5) and Shahama (position No. 13), both 15-1.
Nest is coming off a dominating 8 1/4 length victory over Cocktail Moments in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland, his third in a row and his second this year.
“I’m happy with the draws for Nest and Goddess of Fire,” said Pletcher, who is aiming for his second straight win at the Oaks and fourth overall.
“We were hoping to be somewhere in the middle,” Pletcher said. “With Shahama, it’s fine. She’s not exactly strong away from the door, so she might have a better chance there than if she was stuck inside.
Undefeated Kathleen O. is the No. 10 7-2 second pick, with Echo Zulu the No. 7 4-1 third pick. Kathleen O. led the Oaks in the standings with 150 points and has a record of 4-0 after last month’s win at Gulfstream Park Oaks. Echo Zulu is 5-0 and edged Hidden Connection by a nose to win the Fair Grounds Oaks in March.
Beguine, a 30-1 long shot, is also eligible. Friday’s post time is 5:51 p.m. EDT.
The Kentucky Derby field with jockey and rail out odds:
1. Mo Donegal (Irad Ortiz Jr.), 10-1; 2. Happy Jack (Rafael Bejarano), 30-1; 3. Epicenter (Joel Rosario), 7-2; 4. Summer is tomorrow (Mickael Barzalona), 30-1; 5. Happy Smile (Corey Lanerie), 20-1; 6. Messier (Jean Velazquez), 8-1; 7. Crown Pride (Christophe Lemaire), 20-1; 8. Charge it (Luis Saez), 20-1; 9. Tiz the Bomb (Brian Hernandez Jr.), 30-1; 10. Zandon (Flavien Prat), 3-1; 11. Pioneer of Medina (Joe Bravo), 30-1; 12. Taiba (Mike Smith), 12-1; 13. Simplification (Jose Ortiz), 20-1; 14. Barber Road (Rey Gutierrez), 30-1; 15. White Abarrio (Tyler Gaffalione), 10-1; 16. Cyberknife (Florent Géroux), 20-1; 17. Classical floor (Julien Leparoux), 30-1; 18. Tawny Port (Ricardo Santana Jr.), 30-1; 19. Zozos (Manny Franco), 20-1. Also eligible: 21. Rich Strike (Sonny Leon), 30-1; 22. Rattle N Roll (James Graham), 30-1.
The Kentucky Oaks field with jockey and rail out odds:
1. Secret Oath (Luis Saez), 6-1; 2. Nostalgic (Jose Ortiz), 15-1; 3. Hidden Connection (Rey Gutierrez), 20-1; 4. Nest (Irad Ortiz Jr.) 5-2; 5. Goddess of Fire (John Velazquez), 15-1; 6. Yuugiri (Florent Géroux), 30-1; 7. Echo Zulu (Joel Rosario), 4-1; 8. Venti Valentine (Tyler Gaffalione), 20-1; 9. Desert Dawn (Umberto Rispoli), 20-1; 10. Kathleen O. (Javier Castellano), 7-2; 11. Cocktail Moments (Corey Lanerie), 30-1; 12. Candy Raid (Rafael Bejarano), 30-1; 13. Shahama (Flavien Prat), 15-1; 14. Turnerloose (Manny Franco), 20-1. Also eligible: Beguine (Ricardo Santana Jr.), 30-1.
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