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The main starting gate holds 14 horses and a six-stall auxiliary gate is attached. While jockey Ryan Moore has ridden Mendelssohn to four victories, he finished seventh in 2013's lone appearance at Churchill Downs' prestigious race. The field is also very good and features talented horses whose styles could give Justify problems.

"We're good", Ruis said.

Trainer Bob Baffert had no chance to fret about the Kentucky Derby draw.

"This year's Kentucky Derby will be challenging for oddsmakers as again there is no single clear-cut favorite", D.J. Fields, odds consultant for offshore sportsbook Bookmaker.eu. told International Business Times in an email.

The field is limited to the top 20 horses based on points earned in designated prep races.

"I think all the good horses are in good spots, " Baffert said.

Right now Justify is the heavy favorite at 2:1, but things can (and will) change between now and post time. We didn't want the one-hole, that's for sure. "I want to be where Wayne is".

Weld, however, believes his Irish rival has a prime contender in Saturday night's $2 million highlight and stressed how Go And Go's success shows how winning at the highest level on American dirt is possible.

Battaglia started the price at 3-to-1 in the morning line he shared at the track. The last time Baffert was here with a horse this good was in 2015 at the beginning of American Pharoah's march to become the first Triple Crown victor in 37 years. Firenze Fire drew the dreaded No. 1 post and also will be standing the longest.

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Post time for the Kentucky Derby is 6:46 pm Eastern Saturday. Other horses who recently won the UAE only to falter in the Kentucky Derby include Mubtaahij (eighth in 2015), Lani (ninth in 2016) and Thunder Snow (did not finish at all in 2017).

"This is very much a riders' race and I've got four of the best riders around, which makes me feel good", Pletcher said.

"It's one of the toughest Derbies I've ever seen", Baffert said.

"When you're a champion, you know, you feel great", Prestige employee Alexis Gates says.

"It's a lot of pressure".

Reflecting O'Brien's usual pattern of shipping late, Mendelssohn did not arrive at Churchill Downs until Monday and no one from his camp appeared at the post-position draw, which is a bit of a social failing in Louisville on Derby week.

Battaglia said that Justify's record as well as Baffert's record of winning four Derby will have bettors embracing Justify. What's more, just about every news organization that is covering the Derby will have an in-house handicapper offering predictions.

The bocce court at the Loop spot will be taken over by stick horse racing, where players roll giant fuzzy dice to determine how far they can move. We're all keyed up, geared up. "Everything is fine and they settled in great", Keating said of Mendelssohn and three equine traveling companions.


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