Justify installed early 3-1 favorite for Kentucky Derby

Jockey John Velazquez celebrates atop Always Dreaming after

Jockey John Velazquez celebrates atop Always Dreaming after winning the Kentucky Derby

Santa Anita Derby victor Justify was given 3-1 odds in the morning line for U.S. flat racing's Triple Crown opener for three-year-olds over the 1 1/4-mile track at Louisville's Churchill Downs.

Justify is undefeated in three starts, won by a combined 19 lengths.

"Even if a horse has one race as a 2-year-old and they have that time - I think actually the time after the race is probably as important as the race at 2". Although Bravazo ran eighth in the Louisiana Derby and is among four 50-1 longshots in Saturday's 20-horse Kentucky Derby field, the trainer views the colt's two wins before the Louisiana Derby as proof of his worthiness.

This is the first time ever that officially licensed merchandise for current Kentucky Derby contenders has been available for fans to purchase prior to the race.

"I guess we had four chances to get one and we had four chances to get 20", Pletcher said of the two unfavorable positions.

The 144th running of the Kentucky Derby is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent memory.

His three earlier starts at Tampa Bay Downs did little to ferment serious Derby dreams, but the way he pulled away at the Big A indicates he can be a threat in the stretch if the frontrunners get wobbly. He is the undefeated victor of the Santa Anita Derby.

Bolt d'Oro arrived to Churchill Downs on Monday and trained on Tuesday.

Harness racing begins at 5:00 P.M. on Saturday. He surpassed Lukas, his mentor, this year as the trainer with the most starters in Derby history with 52. Always Dreaming didn't break his maiden until last January.

"You need to be a good horse to win it and you need to get a good trip no matter where you start", Pletcher said.

Jockey Javier Castellano rides Bolt d'Oro past the finish line during the Santa Anita Derby. His trainer, Todd Pletcher, had three of his four horses in the race end up in the auxiliary gate. Monomoy Girl has five wins and a second in six career starts. The colt drew the No. 11 post, which means he will be waiting the longest for the gate to open.

"We weren't overly concerned about the post position", he said. He cruised to a win at the Florida Derby back in late March, and he is peaking at just the right time.

Saturday week's Blue Wind Stakes at the Curragh may see the return to action of Contingent who is already a 20-1 shot for the Oaks on the back of her sole juvenile appearance at Leopardstown last Autumn.

Seven horses were listed at 30-1 by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia: Free Drop Billy, Promises Fulfilled, Flameaway, My Boy Jack, Enticed, Solomini and Noble Indy.

Though not among the currencies that can be used to bet on horse races this weekend, another cryptocurrency called Ether is hoping to join in the fun.

In 2006, Barbaro captured the public's imagination with an epic Derby win followed by a heroic fight against injury.

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