It’s that time again! The 143rd Run for the Roses gets underway Saturday, May 6, on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET, with post time at 6:34. This kitty will be cheering for my favorites, although I confess that, during my research, no horse really jumped out and grabbed me from the full field of 20.
Classic Empire is the humans’ favorite (odds 4-1, post position 14) under jockey Julien Leparoux. On February 4, he ran 3rd after his Derby competitors Irish War Cry and Gunnevera, but it was discovered post-race that Classic Empire had a foot abscess, so his loss may have been a fluke.
He does come well-connected. His father is Pioneer of the Nile, who finished 2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and his big brother is American Pharoah, who ended the 37-year Triple Crown drought by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont in 2015. Classic has run six previous races and won them all except his one 3rd-place finish, so I can see why hopes are high for him. But you know me. I never look a gift horse in the mouth. Classic last ran on April 15, so he may be a little tired.
Another big human favorite is Irish War Cry (odds 6-1, pp 17). He’s a son of Curlin, who was named Horse of the Year in 2007 AND 2007 (much to Big Brown’s disgust). His jockey is Rajiv Maragh, and he’s won two of his three previous races, but lost by 21 lengths to Gunnevera in the only race he ever blew.
Now, on to MY favorites. I’m not too picky about the order they cross the finish line, but I want their dust to be what the other 17 eat…
Tapwrit (odds 20-1, pp 16) I like just because. He’s trained by Todd Pletcher and won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. But he ran 5th in his most recent race on April 8. His jockey is Jose Ortiz. His father is Tapit, who ran 9th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. I know this pick seems totally wacko, but just trust me. I have a feeling.
Gunnevera (odds 15-1, pp 10), who already has a history of messing with many of his Derby competitors, is another one I’m watching. He’s run 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in four of his five previous races, winning most recently on March 4. His jockey is Javier Castellano.
And my solid favorite is Patch (odds 30-1, pp 20) because he’s the serious underdog. Another Pletcher horse, Patch injured and lost his left eye in a mysterious stable accident he’s never explained. He’s running on the far outside, so all the other horses will be on his blind side. Will that give him greater concentration, or will he bump into somebody as his jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, tries to maneuver him closer to the rail?
Patch’s father is Union Rags, winner of the 2012 Belmont Stakes. Patch has won only one race in his previous three, but came in a close 2nd April 1 at the Louisiana Derby, so there’s hope.
The Kentucky Derby is always the most exciting race of the Triple Crown because ANY horse has a shot at glory, so my tail is fluffed with anticipation. As always, we at Cats Working wish all the horses to be healthy and happy on race day and cross the finish line safely.