Kentucky Derby horses, odds, expert picks & more for second leg of 2020 Triple Crown

The most unusual Triple Crown horse racing season in history will finally continue Saturday, Sept. 5 (7:01 p.m. ET post time, NBC) with the 2020 Kentucky Derby. The first jewel was postponed from the first Saturday in May, which now makes it the second jewel.

Tiz The Law, which cruised to victory at the Belmont Stakes on June 20 and followed that up with another big win at the Travers Stakes on Aug. 8, will be looking to keep his Triple Crown hopes alive and well ahead of the Preakness (Oct. 3), trading his home-state tracks in New York for Churchill Downs.

Which other horses are competing in “The Run for the Roses” and what should be expected to happen in the 1-1/4 mile race? Here’s a complete breakdown of the field and expert predictions for the results of the coronavirus-delayed Kentucky Derby:

Kentucky Derby horses 2020

Here’s a snapshot of the 19 horses in the field for the second leg of the Triple Crown, including who’s riding them and who trains them:

Kentucky Derby odds

Here’s another look at all the horses ranked by their latest early morning line odds from Churchill Downs and how those compare to their initial odds at Sports Insider 

(Morning line odds as of Sept. 1, per KentuckyDerby.com)

How will Tiz The Law fare in the second leg of the Triple Crown?

Tiz The Law is in position to dominate the 3-year-old thoroughbreds again. He is 6-1 in his career since last August and after emerging as a heavy Belmont favorite for rolling in the Florida Derby, he’s gotten stronger, pulling away equally impressively at the Travers less than a month ago.

That was a great tuneup to show the layoff hasn’t created rust on Tiz The Law and the rest has been very beneficial as he chases the final two jewels with less than a month in between. There are only two horses in the Derby that also competed in the Belmont with him: third-place Max Player and sixth-place Sole Volante.

Tiz The Law has a strong all-around edge with his experience, confidence and talent. Tagg and Franco also will have him well prepared for the distance and the magnitude of the Kentucky Derby won’t overwhelm him with May-like sunny weather in store for Saturday in Louisville.

Who is the biggest threat to upset Tiz The Law?

Honor A.P. , who boasts A.P. Indy as grandsire, gives the horse pedigree all the way up to Derby immortals Seattle Slew and Secretariat. He has fresh legs after not going in the Belmont. The last win also came in June, in the Santa Anita Derby two weeks before Belmont.

With most horses as longshots vs. Tiz The Law, Honor A.P. and Authentic are the clear best of the rest with Max Player fading.

Which post position is the most favorable in the Kentucky Derby?

In Kentucky Derby history, no post position has produced more winners than No. 5 with 10 over 145 years. No. 10 comes in second with nine winners. That’s more of an advantage for Thousand Words than Major Fed.

Next in line is post position No. 8, with 8 winners, including Mine That Bird in 2009 and Barbaro in 2006. in 2018, Justify became the lucky seventh horse to win from No. 7, following Street Sense in, yep, you guessed it, 2007. So feel better about Money Moves making moves, but less so about South Bend.

Being near the rail has been bad news of late. It’s been 33 years since Ferdinand won from No. 1, and 41 years since Affirmed won from No. 2. That latter history is a big additional blow to Max Player’s chances.

The sweet spot in recent years has been anywhere outside No. 12. In reverse order back to 2008, such winners include Country House (No. 20), Nyquist (No. 13), American Pharoah (No. 18), Orb (No. 16), I’ll Have Another (No. 19), Animal Kingdom (No. 16) and Big Brown (No. 20).

The one exception is No. 17, which has never produced a Derby winner in 40 tries, a curse Tiz The Law should reverse.

Which trainers have had the best Kentucky Derby success?

Barclay Tagg got his first Belmont win with Tiz The Law. He previously won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness with Funny Cide in in 2003. He should feel very confident about adding a fourth Triple Crown win after completing the circuit 17 years later.

Legendary Bob Baffert, who didn’t have a Belmont Stakes entry in 2020, is hoping that either Authetnic or Thousand Words can channel his Triple Crown winners Justify (2018) and American Pharoah (2015) to get him at least one jewel, something that didn’t happen last year.

For John Shirreffs, it’s been 15 years since Giacomo got him his lone Derby win in 2005. He’s trying again with the strong Honor A.P.

Mark Casse, with Enforceable, is looking for his first Kentucky Derby win after leading two horses, War of Will and Sir Winston, to his respective first two Triple Crown wins at the Preakness and Belmont last year.

Steve Asmussen also has fared well at Preakness (two wins) and Belmont (one win) but the Kentucky Derby has eluded him too. He will try to change that witih Max Player, who showed behind Tiz The Law and Dr. Post at this year’s Belmont.

Which jockeys have had the best Kentucky Derby success?

Mike Smith, aboard Honor A.P., and John Velazquez, riding Authentic are each looking for their third Kentucky Derby win. Smith won with Giacomo for Shirreffs and Justify for Baffert. Velazquez delivered for Todd Pletcher with Always Dreaming in 2017 after first doing so for H. Graham Motion with Animal Kingdom in 2011.

Manny Franco came through nicely for his breakthrough at Belmont and that will help him at the Derby, easing some of the favorite pressure with Tiz The Law. He is young but has a strong recent big winning experience in relation to the rest of the field. Smith and Velazquez present enough challenges with their solid contenders.

Kentucky Derby 2020 picks

Tiz The Law will take control and win almost wire to wire, while Honor A.P. fades later to give Thousand Words a little jump for Baffert. Tiz The Law will carry this momentum to remaining a strong Triple Crown favorite, a la Justify and American Pharoah, for the fast-approached Preakness.

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