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Rain Could Play Major Role in Already Unpredictable Kentucky Derby

  • VOA News

Abel Tasman, ridden by jockey Mike Smith, wins the Longines Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, Friday, May 5, 2017, in Louisville, KY. Longines, the Swiss watch manufacturer known for its luxury timepieces, is the Official Watch and Timekeeper of the 143rd annual Kentucky Derby.

The U.S. Kentucky Derby, the first of three major yearly horse races in the United States, will take place on Saturday with rain in the forecast, adding another variable to an already unpredictable race.

The 20-horse field lacks a clear dominant horse following winter preparatory races, and the 40 percent chance of rain predicted for Saturday could create a sloppy track ripe for an underdog victory.

The last four Derby races have all been won by the favorite. However, without a dominant runner in the race, spectators and betters are also looking at the possibility of a long-shot win this year.

Classic Empire, at odds of 4-1, is the narrow pre-race favorite in the opener of the U.S. Triple Crown, held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Two horses, Always Dreaming and McCraken, are the co-second choices at 5-1.

The underdogs include Patch, rated 30-1, a one-eyed horse who drew starting gate number 20, the farthest outside gate. Patch will not be able to see any of his competition at the start of the race because of his left eye patch and lane draw.

Patch’s trainer, Todd Pletcher, also has two other horses in the race, 5-1 shot Always Dreaming, and 20-1 odds Tapwrit.

Another trainer, Steve Asmussen also has three horses in the race, all long shots.

Bob Baffert, a four-time derby winner not competing in this year’s event, told the Associated Press there is “a lot of parity” in this year’s race, but it was hard for him to pick a winner.

“I think Classic Empire is probably the best horse in the race. Todd's horse has brilliance, Always Dreaming. If they can get him figured out, he could steal it. The rest are bombers,” he said.

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