For the first time ever Canterbury Park's opening meet will coincide with the running of the Kentucky Derby. It should make for a fabulous day out at the track. Post time is 1:30 p.m.
Bellamy Road is obviously the beast to beat in the 20-horse Derby field. The George Steinbrenner-owned thoroughbred tied a 32-year-old course record in winning the Wood Memorial by 17 1/2 lengths last month. That monster performance (warranting a stratospheric 120 Beyer speed rating) ensured that he'll go off as the favorite, currently at odds of 5-2. Following a week of impressive workouts at Churchill Downs, everyone seems to be a Bellamy Road believer. Daily Racing Form columnists Andrew Beyer and Steven Crist both predict the frontrunner will romp through the field. (You can read Beyer's take for free in the Washington Post.) The only knock on Bellamy Road is that he hasn't raced enough, just twice this year and five times total. Only one horse in the last 57 years--Sunny's Halo in 1983--has won the Derby in his third race of the year.
Afleet Alex is the sentimental favorite, currently at odds of 9-2. He barely survived as a newborn because his mamma didn't have enough milk to nourish him. He had to be weened on a Coors Light beer bottle. The horse's breeder is sick with cancer of the colon and liver. And Afleet Alex overcame a lung infection to crush the field in the Arkansas Derby.
The only other entrant drawing much acclaim is Bandini, the rambunctious sire of Fusaichi Pegasus. He won the Blue Grass Stakes and has tremendous potential, but is unpredictable.
A couple of other horses that I'm intrigued by. Buzzard's Bay won the Santa Anita Derby (usually considered the most prestigious Derby prep race), but can't get any respect. He's currently at 20-1, probably owing to a lackluster Beyer speed rating of 98. Greeley's Galaxy topped the Illinois Derby, but still didn't have enough earnings to make the cut for Churchill Downs. His owner ponied up an extra $200,000 to get him into the race. Greeley's Galaxy has the third best Breyer rating in the field, but is still going off at odds of 15-1.