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Kentucky Derby

The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports : The Kentucky Derby

Get ready for the most prestigious horse race in the world, as the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby is set for Saturday, May 1st.

Known as "The Run for the Roses" (due to the fact that a large wreath of roses is placed on the winning horse), the annual event in Louisville, Kentucky draws over 150,000 spectators, as well as a global televised audience of millions more. Last year, an astonishing $104, 563,501 was officially wagered on the race, making it one of the biggest gambling events of the year.

The Kentucky Derby has been captivating fans and bettors since 1875, making it one of the oldest sporting events in the United States. Traditionally held on the first Saturday of May, the showcase for three year old thoroughbreds runs on track at Churchill Downs measuring 1 and miles, or just over 2 kilometers. Also known as "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports," the race is the first leg of Horse Racing's Triple Crown.

Twenty horses are scheduled to break from the gate Saturday, competing for a purse totaling $2.1 million, with over $1.4 million going to the winner. The big news pre-race, however, concerned one horse who won't run. Eskendereya, a likely favorite who had crushed the competition in two prep races, was recently scratched due to a leg injury.

Taking Eskendereya's place in the expectations column is Lookin At Lucky, who bettors have established as a clear favorite. But Hall of Fame Trainer Bob Baffert will need to be looking at some luck if he wants to take home his fifth Derby victory. Lookin At Lucky drew the number one post, a position most handicappers feel hurt a horse's chances due to the tendency of the others horses to crowd the inside at the first turn. In fact, the last time a horse won the Derby from the number one post was in 1986.

Another troubling sign for Lucky is his performance at the Santa Anita Derby, where the 4-5 favorite stayed near the rail the entire race and finished a weak third. Despite all this, Lookin At Lucky opened as an early 3-1 favorite.

Another likely winner has star appeal in its ownership ranks.

She may be committed towards weight loss, but when it comes to horse racing, Jenny Craig is a heavy hitter. The multi-millionaire weight-loss guru owns the Derby's second most popular early favorite, Sidney's Candy.

Fresh off of three outstanding runs at Santa Anita, (where he led all the way), Sidney's Candy, holds the distinction of being right next to Lookin At Lucky in the odds column, but at the complete opposite end of the starting gate.

Managed by Hall of Fame Trainer Ron McAnally, Sidney's Candy, (who defeated Lookin At Lucky in one of the aforementioned Santa Anita races), opened at 5-1.

Working against the horse is the fact that he has never run on dirt and will be ridden by a first-time Derby jockey. In addition, Sidney's Candy drew a highly unfavorable outside post position (number 20 out of 20 horses). The longer path has not been kind to horses in the 20 gate in years past. In fact, only two horses have ever won the Kentucky Derby from that position, one of which was Big Brown in 2008.

Rounding out the list of early favorites are Ice Box, in the number two post position, and Awesome Act, both at 10-1. Devil May Care, a filly, is also listed at 10-1, and her trainers hope to make her only the fourth filly to win the Kentucky Derby. In addition, you should never count out a horse trained by Hall of Fame Trainer D. Wayne Lukas. In this year's run for the roses, the four time Derby winner has Dublin, at 12 to 1.

Looking for a long shot? Then Backtalk may be worth talking about. Although he is listed on the boards at 50-1, Backtalk has good lineage. He's a son of Smarty Jones, the 2004 Derby winner. In addition, the Louisville forecast is for rain on Friday night, continuing on through Saturday. So what you say? Well of the 20 horses scheduled to run, only Backtalk has notched a win in a race run on a sloppy track of over two turns.

Besides, outrageously long-long shots do occasionally win. Remember last year? Mine That Bird shocked the crowd in the Churchill Downs grandstands by winning in a thrilling upset, providing a pretty good payday for those with the courage and/or insight to put their money on the 50-1 long shot.

That, in essence, explains the long standing popularity of the Kentucky Derby. Anything can happen; and usually does.

And with its charming traditions, such as the milt julep, the outrageous hats worn in "Millionaire's Row" and the crowd united in a rousing rendition of, "My old Kentucky Home," the Kentucky Derby combines old school elegance with the thrill of contemporary wagering.

And with its charming traditions, such as the milt julep, the outrageous hats worn in "Millionaire's Row" and the crowd united in a rousing rendition of, "My old Kentucky Home," the Kentucky Derby combines old school elegance with the thrill of contemporary wagering.

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