Tuesday, November 30News That Matters

Who Will Win The Kentucky Derby? Expert Picks and Predictions

The horses for the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby are listed in order of post position, with comments by Joe Drape and Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times. The morning-line odds were set by Mike Battaglia of Churchill Downs.

How to watch: Coverage begins Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Eastern time, on NBC Sports Network and will continue on NBC at 2:30 p.m. It will also be streamed on NBC Sports Live.

Post time: 6:57 p.m.

Purse: $3 million guaranteed

Distance: 1¼ miles

Track record: 1:59⅖ (Secretariat, 1973)

Weight: 126 pounds

Joe Drape’s win-place-show picks: King Fury, Mandaloun, Essential Quality

Melissa Hoppert’s picks: Known Agenda, Essential Quality, Midnight Bourbon

Here’s how we see the field:

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 6-1

Drape: The Florida Derby winner was a major contender until he drew the No. 1 post. He’s going to need luck and expert handling to overcome it.

Hoppert: He has won two straight races by a combined 13¾ lengths since adding blinkers, and he’ll have the No. 1 jockey in North America on his back. I’ll take my chances on an upset.

Trainer: Wesley Ward Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke Odds: 50-1

Drape: This colt showed a late burst to capture the Jeff Ruby Steaks. He is in far deeper here and also pulled a tough post position.

Hoppert: Ward, best known for his success at Royal Ascot, has set his sights on adding a Derby victory to his résumé, but this colt’s top performances have come on a synthetic surface.

Trainer: Danny Velazquez Jockey: Umberto Rispoli Odds: 50-1

Drape: This gelding was three of four as a 2-year-old, but an illness delayed his training, and his 3-year-old debut was a fifth-place dud in the Wood Memorial.

Hoppert: This late addition to the field may not be in top form, but he definitely has one of the best story lines: He was purchased for only $5,000, and his trainer is recovering from a freakish training accident.

Trainer: Robertino Diodoro Jockey: David Cohen Odds: 50-1

Drape: He was beaten by 16 lengths by the morning-line favorite in the Blue Grass. Next.

Hoppert: Another late addition, he has won only once in six career starts and unfortunately is going backward.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Corey Lanerie Odds: 50-1

Drape: This will be only the fourth lifetime start for this talented colt. He finished second in the Jeff Ruby after an adventurous trip. Look for him to be a force in the summer.

Hoppert: He’s probably the least talented of Pletcher’s four Derby starters. Pass.

Trainer: Greg Foley Jockey: Marcelino Pedroza Odds: 20-1

Drape: This late runner acquitted himself well in the tough Louisiana prep races. He might hit the board.

Hoppert: A son of the Derby winner Orb, he has looked sharp during training and figures to improve at this distance, stamping his reputation as a “wiseguy” pick.

Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Florent Geroux Odds: 15-1

Drape: If you can overlook a sixth-place clunker in the Louisiana Derby, this colt stacks up with the favorites. He has worked lights-out in the morning here.

Hoppert: He’s definitely talented but too much of a question mark. I’ll put my money elsewhere.

Trainer: Bob Baffert Jockey: John Velazquez Odds: 15-1

Drape: The Santa Anita Derby runner-up has finished first or second in all five starts and has looked good doing so.

Hoppert: Never count Baffert out: He is tied for the most Derby victories with six, and his most recent came last year with Velazquez aboard.

Trainer: Doug O’Neill Jockey: Flavien Prat Odds: 8-1

Drape: The Louisiana Derby champion is not exactly bred for the mile-and-a-quarter distance.

Hoppert: He ran second to Essential Quality in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and had two impressive Derby preps. His versatile running style bodes well for this race.

Trainer: Steven Asmussen Jockey: Mike Smith Odds: 20-1

Drape: This is a battled-tested colt who will be there in the stretch and at a decent price.

Hoppert: He has hit the board in all seven of his races, and he picks up a Hall a Fame rider. Plus, this horse has spunk: He was the talk of the backside when he broke free trying to avoid taking a bath.

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Jose Ortiz Odds: 20-1

Drape: The runner-up in the Wood has a single victory on his résumé. He will not get his second here.

Hoppert: He’s making progress, but he’s in over his head here.

Trainer: Mark Casse Jockey: Julien Leparoux Odds: 50-1

Drape: The Tampa Bay Derby winner is undefeated in three starts, and he runs better every time he starts. Not a lot to go on, but worth a $2 flier.

Hoppert: Two of those wins came on a synthetic surface. I’ll pass.

Trainer: Vicki Oliver Jockey: Rafael Bejarano Odds: 50-1

Drape: Another who looks out of his league after finishing a well-beaten fourth in the Blue Grass.

Hoppert: He has won on this track, but he’s a step slower than the top contenders, and unfortunately we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see a female trainer win the Derby.

Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Luis Saez Odds: 2-1

Drape: The Blue Grass victor and 2-year-old champion is a deserving favorite after winning all five of his races. The only question is, how much did the Blue Grass take out of him?

Hoppert: He won his first race on the rescheduled Derby day in September and has not stopped since, earning victories at three racetracks, on fast and sloppy surfaces, while employing a variety of running styles. Certainly the one to beat.

Trainer: John Sadler Jockey: Joel Rosario Odds: 5-1

Drape: He looked like a worldbeater winning the Santa Anita Derby to go three for three. The first two, however, were on grass, where he may be better.

Hoppert: This late bloomer went wire to wire in the Santa Anita, and having previously raced on turf, he’s certainly not prepared for the dirt kickback from a 20-horse field. But Rosario is one of the hottest jockeys in the game, and if anyone can put him in position, it’s him.

Trainer: Ken McPeek Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Odds: 20-1

Drape: He won here as a 2-year-old and looked terrific winning the Lexington Stakes, his debut as a 3-year-old. His trainer and jockey are underrated. My pick.

Hoppert: His Lexington Stakes score came on a wet track, and the weather in Louisville on Saturday is expected to be picture perfect. I don’t see it.

Trainer: Chad Brown Jockey: Javier Castellano Odds: 10-1

Drape: This colt gave Essential Quality all he could handle in the Blue Grass before losing by a neck. Does he have the gas to turn the tables?

Hoppert: He has hit the board in all five starts and will attempt to give Brown his first Derby victory in six tries. The added distance, however, could prove a factor.

Trainer: Asmussen Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Odds: 30-1

Drape: The Arkansas Derby winner took advantage of a speed duel in front of him. Here, there’s a lot of traffic to navigate.

Hoppert: Asmussen’s father is a part owner, and his son rode him to his first victory, but the feel-good story ends there.

Trainer: Casse Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione Odds: 30-1

Drape: Great name. Look for this Florida Derby runner-up to lead into the first turn. His only chance is a gate-to-wire score, and that will be hard to do.

Hoppert: Owned by the granddaughter of Campbell Soup’s founder, this speedy but lightly raced colt is most likely in hot water here.

Trainer: Pletcher Jockey: Kendrick Carmouche Odds: 30-1

Drape: This colt is a deep, deep closer. He won the Wood at odds of 72-1 with a last-to-first burst. He will try to make one again.

Hoppert: He has steadily improved with blinkers, and what a story if Carmouche, in his first start in the race, becomes the first Black jockey to win the Derby since 1902.