(Reuters) – Kentucky Derby favorite Justify will break from the seventh post position for the 144th Run for the Roses, as the 20-horse field was set on Tuesday for the first jewel in American thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
Unbeaten in three starts, Justify was established as the early morning favorite at 3-1 for Saturday’s showcase at Chuchill Downs.
Justify will attempt to become the first horse since 1882 to win the Kentucky Derby without having raced as a two-year, known as the Curse of the Apollo in honor of the last horse to achieve that feat.
Mendelssohn, winner of the UAE Derby by 18 lengths, will break from the 14th hole and was set as second favorite at 5-1.
“I’m happy, I think everybody should be happy with their post.” said Justify’s Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who trained four Kentucky Derby winners including 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. “When I looked at the board I was in seventh so I was happy with that.
“I wanted to be in the middle or outside, we didn’t want the one hole that’s for sure, so I was relieved when I saw him in seventh.
“The break is so important, when you are in the seven you better break.”
While the Curse of Apollo may be a concern for the superstitious, on the other side of the coin favorites have won the last five Kentucky Derby’s and seven of the last 11.
Magnum Moon, winner of both the Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes, was set as third favorite at 6-1 and will leave from 16th post.
Audible, fourth favorite at 8-1 with Bolt d’Oro, drew lucky number five, the post position having delivered 10 Kentucky Derby champions including last year’s winner Always Dreaming.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Christian Radnedge)