There are at least three good reasons why American Pharoah is the favorite and the best pick to win the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
First of all, the three-year-old bay colt is trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, who has previously won the Kentucky Derby three times, with the last victory taking place in 2002 with War Emblem. Baffert also won the Kentucky Derby with Silver Charm and Real Quiet in 1997 and 1998, respectively.
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Secondly, jockey Victor Espinoza rode War Emblem for Baffert and was on board for California Chrome’s Kentucky Derby win last year for trainer Art Sherman as well.
In fact, Espinoza won all six races on California Chrome until the Belmont Stakes, where he finished fourth in his attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978.
Third, but most importantly, American Pharoah is a winner, taking home first-place finishes in the Del Mar Futurity, FrontRunner Stakes, Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby over the past year.
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He was also voted American Champion Two-Year-Old Male Horse in the 2014 Eclipse Awards, and previous winners that went on to finish first in the Kentucky Derby include Street Sense in 2007 and Affirmed, the last to sweep all three Triple Crown races.
The only notable factor that might possibly be working against American Pharoah is his post position, which was drawn as one of the last three outside spots at No. 18.
Only one horse has ever won the Kentucky Derby from that position, Gato Del Sol back in 1982. Last year, Ride On Curlin finished seventh from the No. 18 spot in the Kentucky Derby.
However, four horses that won the Kentucky Derby on the outside recently were Orb (2013) from the No. 16 position, I’ll Have Another (2012) from No. 19, Animal Kingdom (2011) from No. 16, and Big Brown (2008) from No. 20.