The first Saturday in May is a magical day, one that every horse racing fan and even casual sports fan looks forward to as the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs.  America's longest running sporting event known as "The Run for the Roses" is shaping up as being one of the more open and competitive fields in recent memory.

The race seemed to open up even more after news broke on Wednesday about previous 4-1 morning line favorite Omaha Beach being scratched after developing entrapped epiglottis.  The race known as being "The Best Two Minutes in Sports" already has numerous other storylines that make it both intriguing and difficult to handicap, from the potential of inclement weather for a second straight year to numerous long shots that could pull it off.

Trainer Bob Baffert has three horses in the field, all of which are favorites.  If one of his horses wins, Baffert will tie Ben Jones for most Derby victories as a trainer with six.  Another interesting note is that Hall of Fame and Triple Crown-winning jockey Mike Smith chose to ride scratched horse Omaha Beach as opposed to another favorite in Roadster who he rode to victory in the Santa Anita Derby.  Smith, who's now riding Sunland Derby winner Cutting Humor (10), will be our featured guest on Crunchtime this Saturday at 11:30 AM.

Breaking down the field, this is always a nearly impossible race to pick because of two reasons, the best horses in the world are running in it and there are 20 entries, however, if the trend holds true to the past few years, a favorite will win again this year.  A horse who's received a lot of hype is Los Alamitos Futurity winner Improbable (5).  He's got the experience for the mile and a quarter distance of Churchill and likes a sloppy track, which could be huge on Saturday.  He's also undefeated in three career starts as a two-year-old and loves to conserve energy riding in 3rd or 4th place until the stretch run.

The 7 horse Maximum Security is undefeated in four career races and won the Florida Derby, making him quite a threat to win as well.  Santa Anita Derby winner Roadster has won his last three starts and has the closing speed to win, however, he got a tough break drawing the 17th post; no Derby winner has ever prevailed from that position.  A couple of other horses receiving buzz are the 1 War of Will and 14 Win Win Win.

War of Will has three wins in eight career races and has won at Churchill Downs, making him a contender, the only concern is that he may get boxed in at the 1 position.  The 14 horse Win Win Win also loves a sloppy track and has a great pedigree, as he comes from the family of 2004 Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones.

In the end, it's anyone's guess as to who will win, but my picks are Improbable to win, War of Will to place and the favorite Game Winner to show.  If you're betting the trifecta that's 5-1-15, and might as well throw a shekel on the superfecta 5-1-15-10.  Good luck and enjoy the Kentucky Derby!


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