LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky Derby favorites will need to take the long route toward winning the Run For The Roses.
Tiz the Law is the 3-5 morning-line favorite for the 146th Derby and will attempt to become the first winner from the No. 17 post position drawn for Saturday’s rescheduled marquee race for 3-year-olds. The best finish in 41 starts from that spot was a second place by Forty Niner in 1988 and two thirds.
Not that trainer Barclay Tagg is fazed by the spot.
“Well, I like it being on the outside,” said Tagg, who won the 2003 Derby and Preakness with Funny Cide. “I didn’t particularly want to be out that far, but it’s what we have. He seems to handle everything that gets thrown at him, so we have to leave it up to him.”
All the race favorites will break from the outside at Churchill Downs. Second choice Honor A. P. — at 5-1 odds — drew the No. 16 post on Tuesday. Authentic is the 8-1 third choice from the far No. 18 slot, which last year earned 65-1 long shot Country House the glory when the colt crossed the finish line second before being awarded the victory after Maximum Security was disqualified for interference.
Country House was just the second winner from the No. 18 post in 33 starts (6.1%), with four second-place finishes since the use of a starting gate began in 1930. This year’s Derby will have a new 65-foot, 20-horse starting gate that eliminates the wide gap between the old No. 14 post and No. 15 spot in the auxiliary gate.
Honor A. P.’s odds are slightly better at 8.3%, with four wins, three seconds and three thirds in 48 starts from the No. 16. Animal Kingdom was the last winner there in 2011.
Jockey Manny Franco will try to make history aboard Tiz the Law, who is unbeaten in four starts this year and has six wins and a third in seven career races. His non-win came here last November in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, where he finished behind Silver Prospector and Finnick the Fierce, who will start from the No. 1 post at 50-1 odds.
Tiz the Law’s triumphs include a 3 3/4-length victory at the Belmont Stakes in June, which led off this year’s reshuffled Triple Crown. More recently, the bay colt won the Grade 1 Travers at Saratoga by 5½ lengths on Aug. 8.
Neither Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who has Authentic and Thousand Words (15-1, No. 10 post) in the field, nor Honor A. P. counterpart John A. Shirreffs was present for the draw.
This year’s $3 million Derby was postponed from its traditional first Saturday in May for the first time since 1945 because of the coronavirus pandemic, and no spectators are allowed.
There was a defection Tuesday when Art Collector, who was projected as one of the contenders, dropped out because of a foot issue. He was replaced by South Bend, whose trainer, Bill Mott, guided Country House. South Bend will start from the No. 8 post as one of eight 50-1 long shots.
“He grabbed himself yesterday morning training and it was still sensitive this morning,” trainer Tommy Drury Jr. said of Art Collector. “I had to make a choice, and first and foremost is taking care of your horse. To run in a race of this caliber and try to compete at this level against the best 3-year-olds in the country, you’ve got to be at 110%.”