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Morning-line favorite Tiz the Law and 17 others will finally have chance at Run for the Roses


By Liane Crossley
Special to KyForward

Last year’s Kentucky Derby — in which Maximum Security crossed the finish line first but was disqualified in a controversial ruling that made Country House the winner — is widely regarded as the most unusual and most talked about renewal, but this year’s edition brings a new level of uniqueness.

The oddities of the 2020 running began in mid-March when the race’s traditional date of the first Saturday in May was rescheduled for the first Saturday in September. The Derby — run continuously at Churchill Downs since 1875 — had been delayed only once. In early 1945, the government banned horse racing so workers and supplies could be directed to World War II efforts. The race was held that year on June 9. When the current Kentucky Derby was granted a new time slot, there was early optimism that conditions would be business as usual. That hope devolved into limits on spectators and concluded with only those closely connected to race-day runners being allowed at Churchill Downs.

A field of 18 was entered on Tuesday with Tiz the Law named the favorite in the morning-line odds. NBC will televise the Kentucky Derby and undercard racing on Saturday from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET.

The field in post-position order with state of birth in parentheses is:

1. Finnick the Fierce (Ky.)

Finnick the Fierce is distinctive in a least two ways in this line-up. Physically, he is without his right eye which was surgically removed. Statistically, he is one of only two horses ever to finish ahead of likely betting favorite Tiz the Law. He accomplished that feat when he was second and Tiz the Law was third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs in November.

Kentucky connection: Finnick the Fierce is a son of Dialed In who is part of the stallion roster at Darby Dan Farm in Lexington.

2. Max Player (Ky.)

Max Player was third behind Tiz the Law in Runhappy Travers Stakes on August 8 and in the Belmont Stakes on June 20. The Kentucky Derby will be his first start with trainer Steve Asmussen after previously being in Linda Rice’s barn.

Kentucky connection: Max Player was offered at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale but was listed as unsold on a final bid of $150,000. His sire Honor Code is at Lane’s End in Versailles.

3. Enforceable (Ky.)

Enforceable has made his presence felt in the traditional Kentucky Derby prep races including a victory at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans this past spring. His owner John Oxley won the 2001 Kentucky Derby with Monarchos.

Kentucky connection: Enforceable did not meet his owner’s minimum price when offered at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale but was subsequently sold soon after for $800,00. His sire Tapit resides at Gainesway in Lexington.

4. Storm the Court (Ky.)

Storm the Court was honored as last year’s Eclipse Award champion two-year-old male after his longshot victory in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. He has been winless in five subsequent starts and comes to the Kentucky Derby off a runner-up effort in a major prep race on Del Mar’s turf course last month.

Kentucky connection: Storm the Court was sold as a yearling for $5,000 in 2018 at Fasig-Tipton’s February sale in Lexington.

5. Major Fed (Ky.)

Major Fed will be the first Kentucky Derby starter for trainer Greg Foley, who has been based at Churchill Downs throughout his career. In his most recent start, Major Fed was second in the Indiana Derby.

Kentucky connection: He is a son of Ghostzapper who is a stallion at Adena Springs in Paris.

6. King Guillermo (Ky.)

King Guillermo races for major league baseball star Victor Martinez, who purchased him as a unraced prospect for $150,000 at a Florida auction last year. He stamped himself as a Kentucky Derby contender in March as the surprise winner of the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby. He then finished second in the Arkansas Derby on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky connection: King Guillermo was offered at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale but he did not meet his owner’s minimum and was listed as not sold on a final bid of $90,000. He is a son of Uncle Mo, who is part of the stallion roster at Ashford Stud in Versailles.

7. Money Moves (Ky.)

Money Moves is a newcomer to upper-level competition and is virtually unbeaten. After winning his first two career races, he was a close second at Saratoga Race Course. Money Moves is trained by two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.

Kentucky connection: His sire Candy Ride is a stallion at Lane’s End in Versailles.

8. South Bend (Ky.)

South Bend was a close second in the Ohio Derby in June. His trainer Bill Mott won last year’s Kentucky Derby with Country House.

Kentucky connection: South Bend was offered at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton July auction but was listed as unsold at $47,000 when he did not meet his seller’s minimum price. His sire Algorithms is part of Claiborne Farm’s stallion fleet in Paris.

9. Mr. Big News (Ky.)

Mr. Big News was a longshot winner in a Kentucky Derby prep race at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas in April.

Kentucky connection: Mr. Big News was a $95,000 purchase at the 2018 Fasig-Tipton October auction in Lexington.

10. Thousand Words (Fl.)

Thousand Words comes to the Derby with credentials similar to 2015 Triple Crown hero American Pharoah. Both are sons of 2009 Kentucky Derby runner-up Pioneerof the Nile. Bob Baffert, a five-time Derby winner, trained American Pharoah and now has Thousand Words, who comes to Churchill Downs after winning a stakes race at Del Mar in Southern California on Aug. 1. His resume includes a similar Derby prep victory in California earlier this year.

Kentucky connection: Thousand Words was worth $1-million when he was sold at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale.

11. Necker Island (Ky.)

Necker Island brings a number of unusual storylines to the Kentucky Derby. He was “claimed”—purchased from a race in which entrants are offered for sale—for $100,000 at Churchill Downs in June. He since has finished third in the Indiana Derby and Runhappy Ellis Park Derby. His owners include Greg Harbut, whose strong family ties to the Kentucky Derby include his great-grandfather Will Harbut, famous as the groom of the legendary Man o’War.

Kentucky connection: Necker Island was sold at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale for $250,000. His sire Hard Spun, second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, is a stallion at Darley in Lexington.

12. Sole Volante (Ky.)

Sole Volante is co-owned by Andie Biancone, daughter of his trainer Patrick Biancone. She works as an assistant to her father and is the exercise rider for Sole Volante. The colt has been a consistent performer in Florida where he was runner-up in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby.

Kentucky connection: Sole Volante was sold for $6,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale before being resold to his current connections the following spring. His sire Karakontie resides at Gainesway in Lexington.

13. Attachment Rate (Va.)

Trained by longtime Churchill Downs regular Dale Romans, Attachment Rate comes to the Kentucky Derby after finishing second in the Runhappy Ellis Park Derby in August.

Kentucky connection: Attachment Rate has changed hands twice via Keeneland’s auction house. He was sold for $100,000 as a weanling at the 2017 November sale and for $200,000 as a yearling the following September. His sire Hard Spun, second in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, is a stallion at Darley in Lexington.

14. Winning Impression (Ky.)

Winning Impression accrued qualifying Derby points with his third-place finish in the Arkansas Derby in May. He has been based at Churchill Downs throughout the summer.

Kentucky connection: Winning Impression is a son Paynter, a stallion at WinStar Farm in Versailles. He was sold at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale for $17,000.

15. Ny Traffic (N.Y.)

From somewhat humble beginnings, this gray methodically proved himself with his competitive performances in the upper ranks. As an unraced two-year-old at a Maryland auction, Ny Traffic was listed as unsold at $27,000 after failing to reach the owner’s minimum price. He then was purchased privately. Ny Traffic was nosed out of the TVG.com Haskell Stakes victory by Derby entrant Authentic.

Kentucky connection: His sire Cross Traffic is a resident of Spendthrift Farm in Lexington.

16. Honor A. P. (Ky.)

With his dark coat and white legs and face, Honor A. P. is easy to spot. He has made all of his starts on the West Coast where he has never been worse than second. The colt’s most important win was the Santa Anita Derby on June 6. His name is a nod to his sire Honor Code and paternal grandsire, A.P. Indy.

Kentucky connection: His sire is a stallion at Lane’s End in Versailles.

Tiz the law. (Photo from Horsepotos.com, via Kentuckyderby.com)

17. Tiz the Law (N.Y.)

Probable betting favorite Tiz the Law is the only member of the field with a chance to win the Triple Crown because he won the Belmont Stakes on June 20. He then won the Runhappy Travers Stakes, often called “the Midsummer Derby,” at Saratoga Race Course on August 8. Tiz the Law has the same owner (Sackatoga Stable) and trainer (Barclay Tagg) as 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Funny Cide, who also was born in New York.

Kentucky connection: His sire Constitution is a stallion at WinStar Farm in Versailles.

18. Authentic (Ky.)

Authentic comes from the barn of Bob Baffert whose five Kentucky Derby winners include Triple Crown heroes American Pharoah and Justify. Authentic has been victorious in four of five starts with his only loss being a runner-up effort behind fellow Derby entrant Honor A. P. in the Santa Anita Derby. Authentic confirmed his status as leader of his crop with his triumph in the TVG.com Haskell Stakes at Monmouth Park in New Jersey in July.

Kentucky connection: Authentic was sold for $350,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September yearling sale. He is a son of Into Mischief, a stallion at Spendthrift Farm in Lexington.

Lexington-based freelance writer Liane Crossley is a lifelong lover of Thoroughbred racing who has held a variety of jobs in both barns and offices. Her favorite part of the industry is being with the horses and the people who share her passion for them. She can be reached at crossleyliane@yahoo.com


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