Four months late and with the Belmont Stakes normally the last leg of the Triple Crown already in the form book, the Kentucky Derby will take place at Churchill Downs on Saturday with no fans in attendance and an animal rights group advising punters to ” hold all tickets’ on the race, to allow them to sue for damages if the winner fails a post-race doping control.
Although there are a handful of participants inside America’s most famous track, however, crowds of hundreds, if not thousands, are expected outside, joining the protests organized by groups making campaign for social justice and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
It is, as Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said this week, “a difficult time” for the city and the event that puts it in the limelight in the United States. And that’s before considering the shadow cast over American racing earlier this year when Jason Servis and Jorge Navarro, two of the country’s most successful coaches in recent seasons, were among more than two dozen indicted. doping and race-fixing. .
In this regard, last year’s spectacular Derby, when Maximum Security formed by Servis became the first horse in its history to be disqualified after finishing first, will be fresh in everyone’s mind. Animal rights group Peta, meanwhile, has also taken up the Servis / Navarro case to advance its campaign to end racing.
The organization backed a recent court case involving harness racing, when a losing punter successfully sued a trainer and owner whose horse subsequently failed a doping test, winning $ 20,000. Now Peta has released ads recommending that all punters keep their hands on lost tickets in Saturday’s Derby so that “they too can sue if they are cheated on legitimate wins by coaches who have drugged horses ”.
Unsurprisingly, this year’s Derby struggled to emerge from the fury surrounding it, despite being a fascinating renewal of a Classic which, for the first time since 1931, has not been not the first stage of the Triple Crown. Instead, the Belmont Stakes in New York City in mid-June kicked off the race for the Triple Crown. The race was shortened from 12 stadia to nine and had a resounding three and three-quarter winner at Tiz The Law, coached by Barclay Tagg, 82.
Tiz The Law has every chance of winning the Derby, as victory would make Tagg the oldest winning coach and the odds eased slightly when he was drawn at stall 17 of 18 – the only box in the starting grid of the Derby which never provided the winner. . Oddly, however, Honor AP, coached by John Shireffs, and Authentic (Bob Baffert), the only other single-digit odds runners, drew 16 and 18 respectively, putting around 80% of the pound in the three largest stalls. .
A comfort piece for the props is the start of a full set of starting pits. For decades, the track nailed a six-stall auxiliary gate to its regular 14-box gate for its longer run, resulting in a gap of about two stall widths between positions 14 and 15. Not before l By the way, this arrangement has been relegated to history and this year’s 17 will look more like 15 in previous years.
“I like that it’s on the outside,” said Tagg, who saddled Funny Cide to win in 2003. “I didn’t particularly want to be that far, but that’s what we have. He seems to be handling whatever is thrown at him, so we have to let him take care of it.
Greg Wood’s tips for Friday
1,50 Alba Rose
2,20 Imaginary world
2,55 Diamond Haze
4,35 Our little pony
5,05 Mr. OrangeAscot 1.55 Pure dreamer
2.30 George Scott
3,05 La Barrosa
3,40 Labeebb (days)
4.15 Sel d’Al
5,55 Inhalation Haydock Park
2.10 Press lightly (nb)
3,50 Tom Tulliver
Sedgefield 4.30 Miss M
5:30 Lord Springfield
6.00 Dark chocolate
6.30 See the sea
7,00 Baie d’Oxwich
7h30 Joy Of Living
Kempton Park 5.15 Strict time
5,50 Act of wisdom
8,20 Voice of the villain
8,50 Flower of Scotland
In another year, the prospect of the Derby having its first eight-year-old winning coach would have been unalloyed gold for America’s most famous race. Tagg, however, was also quoted this week describing the protesters expected outside the course as rioters, adding: “All I know is you are not allowed to shoot them and they are allowed to shoot you, that’s what it looks like. me. “
In all these years, more controversy was not what the Kentucky Derby needed heading into its 146th race. As Louisville prepares for its annual day in the spotlight, the 150,000 fans who would normally be crammed into Churchill Downs can only hope it will be remembered as the crowdless Derby and not the Derby where anything that could go wrong. did.