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The Arizona fan’s guide to the Kentucky Derby

It’s Triple Crown time again!

Horse Racing: 143rd Preakness Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been paying attention to horse racing the last half decade, you’d know that The University of Arizona is king.

Why? Bob Baffert and his two Triple Crowns of course!

It’s that time of year where #AHorsesProgram takes over your Twitter feeds for five weeks as Baffert and fellow Arizona alum Todd Pletcher vie for horse racing’s most prestigious honor.

Baffert has done this twice. In 2015, he trained American Pharoah to the first Triple Crown in nearly four decades. And then just three years later, he repeated the feat with Justify.

So will he win back-to-back Triple Crowns? Well, he is the trainer of three of the favorites in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Let’s break down the horses that Arizona fans should be rooting for in Saturday’s Run for the Roses:


Roadster

Horse Racing: Kentucky Derby Workouts Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Post position: 17

Morning line odds: 6-1

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Roadster has won both of his races this year, including the 1 1/8 mile Santa Anita Derby back on April 6th. But Baffert is lucky that this star horse is still racing. Back in September, Roadster was found to have an obstruction in his throat that was limiting airflow, so he underwent surgery that kept him out of training for three months. However, if Roadster were to win on Saturday, he would be the first to ever do it out of the No. 17 post.

His sire, Quality Road, did not race in the Triple Crown due to an injury. After being transferred to Pletcher, Quality Road was the first horse to scratch at the gate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic after scraping up his hocks on the starting gate. In his four-year-old season, Quality Road did race in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but finished 12th, and was found to have a hoof abscess after the race. The most successful Quality Road offspring, Abel Tasman, won The Kentucky Oaks in 2017.

Game Winner

Horse Racing: Kentucky Derby Workouts Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Post position: 16

Morning line odds: 5-1

Jockey: Joel Rosario

Roadster beat Game Winner in the Santa Anita Stakes by a half-length. Undefeated as a two-year-old, Game Winner has placed twice as a three-year-old, also losing out to ex-Derby favorite Omaha Beach in the Rebel Stakes. Omaha Beach was scratched on Wednesday afternoon due to an entrapped epiglottis. This has made Game Winner the favorite to win the Derby.

This horse is a direct relative of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

Improbable

Horse Racing: Kentucky Derby Workouts Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Post position: 5

Morning line odds: 6-1

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Improbable has a lot of the same connections Justify did last year, so either those particular stables will have an unprecedented couple of years, or Improbable will not see quite the same success as his predecessor.

This is another horse that has placed twice as a three-year-old, but did win the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs as a two-year-old, so Improbable already knows what it’s like to win at the famed track.

Cutting Humor

@dbrixx24

Post position: 10

Morning line odds: 30-1

Jockey: Corey J. Lanerie

The first of two Pletcher-trained horses that we’ll talk about, Cutting Humor is coming off of a win at the G3 Sunland Park Derby on March 24. That win beat Baffert-trained Mucho Gusto, who went into that race as the heavy favorite, but finished six lengths behind Cutting Humor. The time of 1:46.94 is a new track record for the 1 1/8 mile distance.

Lanerie just won his 1,000th career race at Churchill Downs this week. That’s a lot of winning.

Spinoff

@PletcherRacing

Post position: 19

Morning line odds: 30-1

Jockey: Manny Franco

This horse has only run twice since August, but finished just 3/4-length behind fellow Derby competitor By My Standards in The Louisiana Derby back on March 23rd. He has improved his speed figures in each of his four competitive races, but it’s hard to tell if either Pletcher horse will be serious contenders this year.


As always, remember to use #AHorsesProgram for the next five weeks. It’s a way of life.