Kentucky Derby week is finally here and after a COVID-19 induced change in the Triple Crown schedule in 2020, the Run for the Roses returns to its traditional spot on the first Saturday in May.
In the latest news, Caddo River has been withdrawn, joining Dream Shake on the sidelines, bringing King Fury and Brooklyn Strong into the 20 horse field.
As part of our continuing series looking at the horses that will run at Churchill Downs on Saturday in the Triple Crown opener, we'll take a closer look at the two latest entrants.
Brooklyn Strong - Limited experience
Brooklyn Strong won an early 10-4-2-1 race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby - the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on December 5 - but those were the only qualifying points he would end up accumulating. He was idle for most of the rest of the prep series races, resurfacing as an entry in the 100-40-20-10 Wood Memorial.
The Daniel Velazquez-trained colt didn't look much like a Kentucky Derby contender in the Wood, never really making a move despite the record slow pace that resulted in 72/1 longshot Bourbonic emerging with the victory. Brooklyn Strong picked up a couple of spots down the stretch but still had to settle for a fifth-place finish, just outside of the last spot that awarded qualifying points.
For his career, Brooklyn Strong has a 3-0-1 record in just five starts, so he's entering the Kentucky Derby with some possible unrealised potential. He's beaten some strong horses, including Florida Derby winner Known Agenda in his Remsen win, so Brooklyn Strong could be a surprise factor on Saturday. However, his best odds are currently 50/1 with bet365.
King Fury - A surprise entry after a long layoff
King Fury had recorded finishes of fifth, seventh and eighth in his first three prep races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby as a two-year-old, then took four-and-a-half months off before taking a final shot at qualifying points in the 20-8-4-2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 10. As one of the four longshots at 18/1, he came out on top of a desperate 10-horse field, beating 20/1 Unbridled Honor by almost three lengths.
He was just another of several horses that managed to pull big upsets in the final prep races and advance to the Kentucky Derby, creating a lot of uncertainty and excitement for Saturday's race. With only two undefeated entries in the field, a late bloomer like King Fury could generate some buzz but probably not contend to win the race. He's currently at 40/1 with Betfred.
With such a large field, some big wagering payouts will be available, and a horse like King Fury would be a good one to include in multiple entry bets like the trifecta or superfecta. All of the horses will be stretching to a new distance of one-and-a-quarter mile, so any horse like King Fury who has been able to demonstrate late staying power at a mile and an eighth or a mile and a sixteenth could be in play.