Kentucky Derby 2020: In an oddity due to the coronavirus pandemic, Saturday’s Kentucky Derby will determine if Tiz the Law has an opportunity to become U.S. thoroughbred racing’s 14th Triple Crown winner at the Preakness States in four weeks. NBC will televise the Kentucky Derby, with the network’s coverage starting at 1:30 p.m. CDT Saturday.
The original schedule of the 2020 Triple Crown races had the Kentucky Derby on May 2, Preakness Stakes on May 16 and Belmont Stakes on June 6. Instead, the pandemic scrambled the schedule so that Tiz the Law ran to victory in the Belmont Stakes on June 20, and after Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes awaits a field of 3-year-olds on Oct. 3.
Saturday’s race will be the first Kentucky Derby not run in May since 1945 and the first time the Run for the Roses didn’t open the Triple Crown trail since 1931.
The 146th Kentucky Derby has a post time of 6:01 p.m. Saturday at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Kentucky Derby is the last of the seven graded-stakes races on the schedule for Churchill Downs on Saturday, and the NBC coverage will allow viewers to see the other six. The other Grade 1 races are the Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic and the Derby City Distaff, the Grade 2 races are the American Turf, Longines Churchill Distaff Turf Mile and Pat Day Mile and the Grade 3 race is the Iroquois.
With the Derby running in the city where Breonna Taylor was killed in her apartment by the police in March, it has become a focus of the Black Lives Matter movement. A coalition of activist groups has called for a boycott of the race and its sponsors. They have promised to conduct a peaceful protest in a park near Churchill Downs on Saturday.
The racetrack’s leadership released a statement Thursday to explain their decision to hold the races.
“We know there are some who disagree with our decision to run the Kentucky Derby this year,” the statement said. “We respect that point of view but made our decision in the belief that traditions can remind us of what binds us together as Americans, even as we seek to acknowledge and repair the terrible pain that rends us apart.
“Our sport shares a disconcerting history that led to the exclusion of Black jockey participation through the years,” the statement continued. “The legacy of the Kentucky Derby begins with the incredible success of Black jockeys. We feel it is imperative to acknowledge the painful truths that led to their exclusion. Churchill Downs strongly believes in preserving and sharing the stories of the Black jockeys who are a critical part of this tradition. This is not a new commitment, but we continue to seek ways to share these stories and honor these athletes.”
An African-American jockey, Oliver Lewis, won the inaugural Kentucky Derby in 1875. He claimed victory aboard Aristides, a horse trained by Ansel Williamson, who was born into slavery. In the years after the Civil War, Black jockeys dominated horse racing, winning 15 of the first 28 Kentucky Derbys and becoming celebrities, much like today’s N.B.A. stars.
In their statement, Churchill Downs officials hinted at changes.
“We recognize that people in our community and across our nation are hurting right now,” it said. “The atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby will be different this year as we respond to those calls for change. This will be a Derby unlike any other. As it should be.”
There was some speculation as to whether or not “My Old Kentucky Home” would be played as the horses come on to the track, as has been tradition since 1921. The song, written by Stephen Foster, has a complicated history. The original lyrics, according to Smithsonian Magazine, were not a tribute to the Old South but a condemnation of Kentucky slave owners “who sold husbands away free.
Tiz the Law didn’t get any favors at the post-position draw, and will break from the outside No. 15 post when the talented 2020 Kentucky Derby field goes to the gate at 7:01 p.m. ET. Tiz the Law is the 5-8 favorite in the latest 2020 Kentucky Derby odds from William Hill, with Honor A.P. at 5-1 and Authentic at 8-1 as other top 2020 Kentucky Derby contenders. With a large field set to enter the starting gate on Saturday, you need to see what Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg has to say before making any 2020 Kentucky Derby picks.
The former horse racing analyst for ESPN and NBC, Goldberg became a legendary handicapper by going straight to the source. In 2004, he had dinner before the Belmont Stakes with trainer Nick Zito at a pizzeria in Queens. The dinner led Goldberg to play Zito’s 36-1 monster longshot Birdstone to win and on top of his exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets. When Birdstone shocked the world, Goldberg won $24,000.
In the San Felipe Stakes in March, Hammer gave out a $20 exacta that paid $180. In the Belmont Stakes in June, Goldberg was all over Tiz the Law, who scored a convincing victory in the year’s first Triple Crown race. In the Blue Grass Stakes, Hammer nailed the Art Collector-Swiss Skydiver exacta for $169.40. In July, he hit the Authentic-Ny Traffic exacta in the Haskell for $158. And last month in the Pacific Classic he gave out the Maximum Security-Sharp Samurai exacta for $177.50. Anyone who has followed Goldberg’s lead is way up.