Following last year’s storybook Derby upset will be difficult, but plenty of intrigue awaits in this version of the Run for the Roses. Likely favorite Forte has looked like the clear top contender since the fall, as his trainer Todd Pletcher enters with one of his best fleets going into Churchill in his career. If last year taught us anything, however, it’s that anyone can fly under the radar and be a contender in this 20-horse field.

The recent emergence of Japanese-bred runners in North America continues with two contenders in Derma Sotogake and Continuar, both carrying rookie connections into this field. A third Japanese horse, Mandarin Hero, is on the also-eligible list.

The first-time combo of Sonny Leon and Eric Reed captured the first jewel of the Triple Crown last May, setting the precedent for some new shooters drawing into this year’s contest. On the flipside, usual suspects like Brad Cox and Tim Yakteen, who takes over some former Bob Baffert trainees, enter four and two runners here, respectively.

Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move will likely be the second choice of the betting public for Yakteen after a narrow win last time out, while Cox’s Pennsylvania-bred Angel of Empire gives him a chance for his second Derby win. Perhaps the always-dangerous Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and Joel Rosario will get some revenge after their 2022 defeat with favored Epicenter; they both look for their first Derby victory here with the overlooked Disarm.

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No matter the result, expect the unexpected in Kentucky as this mix of familiar faces and new connections aim to etch their names in the history books alongside the stunning 2022 winner Rich Strike.

Post time for the Derby is 6:57 p.m. EST on Saturday, May 6 as the twelfth race on the Churchill card. Good luck, and let’s hope you “strike it rich” this year.

The Baltimore Banner and The Racing Biz have a content-sharing partnership leading up to the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, May 20. To read the rest of the story, head over to The Racing Biz.

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