Trainer Lukas savoring first Kentucky Derby berth since 2015

In December the city announced plans to finally repave some of downtown Louisville's most torn-up streets. Yet six weeks into spring- and three days before the city's premiere event of the year- those streets are as bad as ever

In December the city announced plans to finally repave some of downtown Louisville's most torn-up streets. Yet six weeks into spring- and three days before the city's premiere event of the year- those streets are as bad as ever

Five of the 20 horses in the field will be saddled by trainers who are already in the Hall of Fame (Steve Asmussen, Bob Baffert, Jerry Hollendorfer, D. Wayne Lukas and Bill Mott), while four more are conditioned by Todd Pletcher, a trainer who has sent more horses to this race that any other horseman. But this reader apparently believed "If it's in the Gazette, it must be true".

The Scat Daddy colt already has a victory in America to his name, albeit on turf at last year's Breeders' Cup meeting, but he proved his effectiveness on dirt when an 18-length victor of the UAE Derby. It was quite simple. No horse has prepared in Europe and won the Derby.

"Will that be good enough?" Rarely do fillies run in the Derby. It will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, making it the 144th Kentucky Derby held there.

In real time, he says he discerns nearly nothing. So in two columns I picked a loser to win and a victor to lose. Racing podcasts (there's so many I can't listen to all of them, but I listen to a lot of them) give air time to guests who talk incessantly about Justify winning the Derby. He has all the qualities that I think it would take. Most of the horses that finished behind him have returned as 3-year-olds with big victories.

- While once-a-year horseplayers will be focused on the Derby, even occasional handicappers would be well advised to give a good lock at the races on the Churchill Downs undercard on Saturday. Pari-mutuel wagering was more than two decades away. The rest of the Triple Crown was a bit of a cakewalk for AP12. Horses from those posts often get shuffled back early and are prone to be boxed in along the rail.

We also asked WFAN producer Brian Monzo and WFAN and CBS Sports Radio hosts Chris Moore and Jody McDonald for their Kentucky Derby picks.

"Justify, what a wonderful-looking, handsome horse he is", said Bolt d'Oro owner/trainer Mick Ruis. Otherwise, I'll be playing exactas with Mendelssohn and Good Magic on top, using Flameaway, Audible, Hofburg, and Vino Rosso underneath. The third rider, Mario Gutierrez, has no mount this year.

And what colossal long shot hits the board? The last long-shot was Animal Kingdom at 20-1 in 2011, but that paled compared to Mine That Bird at 50-1 in 2009 with the toothless jockey Calvin Borel aboard, and Giacomo at 50-1 in 2005.

One of the key differences between the Derby and the Oaks (in terms of the actual races) is distance.

Justify will try to become the first horse to win the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old since Apollo in 1882. He returned with a win and a solid second to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby. Visit SportsLine to get Jody Demling's Kentucky Derby victor, see which huge long shot contends, and get the finish positions for every single horse, all from the man who's picked 9 straight Derby-Oaks doubles! Post 16? That's Magnum Moon, a major contender. Sassy Sienna will begin on the rail at 15-1 but could set the early pace in the 14-horse field that includes 5-2 second choice Midnight Bisou, victor of three in a row. Getting a good trip is imperative.

While he's won nearly every major race, he still needs to win the Kentucky Derby. All of that adds to the mystery - and the fun - of trying to pick a victor.

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