The 150th Kentucky Derby is Saturday – here’s what you need to know

Twenty horses stampeding 1¼ around Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. The Kentucky Derby turns 150 years old this year, extending its run as America’s longest continuously held sporting event.

The 2-minute race features a dash out of the starting gate, especially for the horses breaking from posts 15-20 whose jockeys want to angle them in to save ground. There’s a scramble for positioning going into the first turn before the field stretches out on the backside. The pace picks up heading into the final turn before the thrilling run through the stretch with 150,000 fans cheering.

Here’s what you need to know:

When is the Derby post time?

6:57 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

What’s the forecast?

Saturday’s forecast is for 79 degrees with a 52% chance of rain. The last sloppy track for the Derby was in 2019, when Country House was declared the winner after a 22-minute review by the stewards. Maximum Security crossed the line first, but was disqualified for interference. The Churchill dirt strip has been listed as fast for the last four Derbies.

How to watch

Coverage begins at 10 a.m. PT Friday with five hours of racing from Churchill Downs, capped by the Kentucky Oaks for 3-year-old fillies (USA Network, streaming on Peacock).

Derby Day coverage begins at 9 a.m. Saturday with the undercard races on USA Network and Peacock. At 11:30 a.m., coverage shifts to NBC and Peacock. NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will stream live coverage to subscribers. NBC Sports Audio (channel 85 on SiriusXM radio and the SiriusXM app) will begin coverage at 7 a.m. Telemundo Deportes will have Derby coverage starting at 3:30 p.m. Saturday on Universo, and streaming on TelemundoDeportes.com and the Telemundo app.

What to watch

A pre-race tradition is the walkover, when the horses are led from the stable area to the paddock where they are saddled for the race. Some are cool and calm, others get fractious and sweaty. Accompanying them are usually the grooms, trainers and owners. The riders emerge from the jockeys’ room and walk to the paddock to meet their mounts.

Besides the horses, check out the crowd decked out in huge hats and fascinators, floral-print dresses and seersucker suits that make the Derby the world’s most fashionable sporting event.

Retired NFL quarterback Tom Brady will be among the celebrities in attendance. He is friends with Mike Repole, who owns Fierceness. Retired Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth co-owns Dornach (say DOOR-nack), a long shot named for a golf club in Scotland.

Who are the favorites?

Fierceness is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, the bay colt will break from the No. 17 post, which has never produced a Derby winner. Fierceness won the Florida Derby by 13½ lengths in his last race.

Sierra Leone is the early second choice at 3-1. The dark bay/brown colt cost $2.3 million, making him the highest-priced runner in the full field of 20. He is trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, who are a combined 0 for 13 in the Derby.

Catching Freedom is the early third choice at 8-1. The bay colt is trained by Louisville native Brad Cox and ridden by Flavien Prat.

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The co-fourth choices at 10-1 are Just a Touch and Forever Young. Cox also trains Just a Touch, who is co-owned by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani of Qatar. The bay colt did not race at age 2, and neither did his sire Justify, who won the Triple Crown in 2018.

Forever Young is one of two Japanese horses in the field. The bay colt is undefeated in five career starts, including the UAE Derby, but winners of that race are 0 for 19 in the Derby.

What does the winner get?

Churchill Downs increased the total purse for the 150th Derby to $5 million, with the winning owner earning $1.3 million and a gold trophy. Second place is worth $1 million, with payouts down to fifth place. The winning horse is draped in a hand-sewn blanket of red roses. The winning jockey typically earns 10% of the purse and a smaller trophy.

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