One thing is absolutely certain about the winner of the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby, nobody knows who it is.
In a 20-horse field, anything can happen. The best horse in the world can get blocked behind a wall of horses and have no chance getting to the wire first.
At least one jockey will try to steal the race by getting the early lead and setting serious fractions and then try to slow his horse down so he has something left in the tank for that long death row known as the stretch. When Angel Cordero was riding, he was the master of that move.
Every trainer and jockey will have a strategy, most of them will get blown apart as they come out of the gate like a downhill calvary charge.
For the sake of clarity, the odds that will be quoted in this column are not Saracen Casino Resort, Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort or Southland Casino Racing odds, they are the ones set by Churchill Downs and once the windows open there and everywhere else, the odds will change.
The morning line favorite, and he should be, is Forte at 3-1.
All this son of Violence has done is win five consecutive races at three different tracks and his last race, the Florida Derby, he went from fifth at the head of the stretch to first by a length. He is the defending 2-year-old champion on the strength of winning the 2022 Breeder's Cup.
He was bought for $110,000 and has won more than $2.4 million. He'll break from post position No. 15, meaning if he's going to run his regular stalking race, he needs to get out of the gate fast and clean.
Oh, there isn't a lot of early speed in this race, which might not help Forte either.
Tapit Trice is the second favorite at 5-1, which would be by far his longest odds. He's never been worse than 2-1 and the son of champion Tapit has won four races in a row. He cost $1.1 million and so far has earned more than $800,00.
He might be the early speed. He definitely likes to run on top or close to it. He's No. 5 in your program and like Forte is trained by Todd Pletcher, who also has Kingsbarn, who is undefeated and 12-1.
Third favorite is Angel Empire at 8-1 and he is well-bred and his last two wins were the Risen Star and the Arkansas Derby, which he won by four lengths.
Oaklawn has nine entries in the Derby and the sentimental favorite is probably Rocket Can, owned by North Little Rock's Frank and Judy Fletcher. He's 30-1 and breaking from post No. 18 and coming in off a fourth-place finish in the Arkansas Derby in which he never really looked relaxed.
It doesn't appear my secret weapon will run. Mandarin Hero's owners didn't get Derby fever until late and he ran his first five races in Japan and then fired in the Santa Anita Derby, but second place did return enough points and he's second on the waiting list.
If you like 10-1 Practical Move, winner of the Santa Anita Derby, you should have loved Mandarin Hero, who was bumped at the start and in the stretch and still finished second by a nose.
Reincarnate is not trained by Bob Baffert, who turned this horse over to Tom Yakteen. Baffert is in the stretch run of a two-year ban by Churchill Downs after 2021 winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a banned substance and was taken down. Later that year he died.
Every horse, trainer, jockey and owner is a story as this one ring circus attracts people from all over the world for the fastest two minutes in sports.
The horse that wins will have to have stamina and lots of luck, but he will be remembered forever. My play is a trifecta box with Kingsbarn, Forte and Rocket Can.