There's no clear front-runner in this year's race, but here are some contenders worth rooting for, even if they don't win
I don't know who is going to win the 137th Kentucky Derby Saturday, and even if I did I wouldn't tell you. There is no overwhelming favorite this year, and even if there were it wouldn't mean much. The legendary Barbaro, after all, went off at odds of 6-1 in 2006 in the last full race of his star-crossed life. Besides, betting on the Kentucky Derby is sort of like partying hard on New Year's Eve. Amateurs love it. The professionals tolerate it (because they make money), and those of us in between typically appreciate it at home with good friends.
After a springtime of rain and thunder in the Bluegrass, the biggest question leading up to the big race was whether Uncle Mo, the undisputed 2-year-old champion, was sound enough again to run for the roses (his worst race--and only defeat--came in his last race, the Wood Memorial in New York exactly four weeks ago). On Thursday, superstar trainer Bob Baffert, the quote-ready, mind-game-playing handler of a Derby horse named Midnight Interlude, even took a poke at Mike Repole, Uncle Mo's energetic owner.
"Uncle Mo looks fantastic out there to me," Baffert said to reporters Thursday (as recounted in the Paulick Report). "He's the best horse in the race. I don't care what rumors you hear. You can't throw him out. He's looked great to me. Everyone is talking about him being 50/50. I think [owner Mike Repole] is just trying to build a price for himself because it sounds like he likes to gamble. He's going to be dangerous. I don't think it's some [gastrointestinal issue], I think he just got tired at the Wood [Memorial]. From what I've seen visually, there is nothing there that tells me the horse isn't ready to run. I'm not buying that crap. He's just trying to steal this race."