One of America’s most famous sporting events takes place Saturday in front of a reduced crowd, a sign that the country is returning to normal but the pandemic remains dangerous,
The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby returns to its position as the first leg of thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown at Churchill Downs, where many attendees might be wearing their traditional fancy hats but they’ll also be asked to put on a mask.
Here’s a look at this year’s Run for the Roses.
The traditional day for the Derby (since 1969) is the first Saturday in May. Post time is 6:57 ET. Last year the race was run September 5.
How many fans can attend?
The largest crowd came when 170,000 fans squeezed into Churchill Downs to see American Pharoah win (on his way to the 2015 Triple Crown). But this year, far fewer tickets will be available.
A spokesman for Churchill Downs Racetrack told CNN the plan for attendance is “40-50% (capacity) reserved seating, 60% in some premium dining areas, 25-30% in Infield. All in, around 40,000-50,000.”
How can I watch?
NBC will televise the race program, beginning on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. ET. Coverage switches to NBC from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET. The race will also be shown on nbcsports.com and the NBC Sports app.
Who is going to win?
In case you missed it, last year the race was won by Authentic, trained by Bob Baffert. The victory was Baffert’s sixth Derby win, tied for most by a trainer with Ben Jones.
The field is limited to 20 horses that qualify by earning points in “The Road to the Kentucky Derby.”
Essential Quality garnered the most points and has won all five races in his career. On Tuesday he drew the No. 14 spot in the starting gate and was listed as an early 2-1 favorite (as of Friday night he was 1-1, but odds can change). Rock Your World starts from the gate to Essential Quality’s right and was the second favorite.
Hot Rod Charlie was the second leading point getter in the qualifying races and was the only other colt with odds better than 10-1.
Like the occasional drink? Two of the horses in the field have alcoholic content in their names — Bourbonic (37-1) and Midnight Bourbon (18-1), fitting for a race sponsored by a bourbon maker.
Will all 20 horses be in Saturday’s field?
No. King Fury came down with a fever and cannot participate.
How long does it take?
Well, it’s called the “most exciting 2 minutes in sports,” a phrase the race track operator had trademarked in 2018, or “the greatest 2 minutes in sports” or sometimes “the fastest 2 minutes in sports.” So if you’re still not sure, a good time is about 2 minutes.
Secretariat ran 1:59.4 in 1973, still the fastest time for the race distance of 1.25 miles.
How do I make a mint julep?
You may have to make the syrup overnight if you don’t buy it premade, but it really has only three ingredients — the syrup, the bourbon and the ice.