What to know about the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby

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The Kentucky Derby is one of the most iconic sporting events in the world. Every year, millions of fans tune into NBC to watch top race horses from around the globe compete in “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports.”

What is the Kentucky Derby? The Kentucky Derby, run the first Saturday in May, is one of the most well known Grade 1 Thoroughbred stakes races in the world. First run in 1875, this 1 1/4 mile–or 10 furlongs–race kicks off the American Triple Crown of horse racing.

When and where is the 2019 Kentucky Derby? The 145th running of the Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 4, 2019 with a post time of 6:50 p.m. ET.

The Derby is run on the dirt track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, where it has been held since its inaugural running in 1875.

How can I watch the 2019 Kentucky Derby? NBC is home to the 145th Kentucky Derby, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV and NBCSports.com before, during and after. NBC will also broadcast the 2019 Preakness Stakes and 2019 Belmont Stakes. See the broadcast schedule here.

How are horses picked for the Derby? Only 3-year-old Thoroughbreds can qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Eligible horses compete in the Race to the Kentucky Derby, a series of 35 races around the world. Horses win points for finishing in the top four spots, and the 20 horses with the most points at the end of the series gain entry into the Derby. (However, sometimes horses will scratch, giving another the opportunity to run in the Derby.) Currently, Wood Memorial winner Tacitus leads the field with 150 points, and Arkansas Derby winner Omaha Beach is close behind with 137.5 points. See the full point standings here.

Who are the early horses to watch?

  • Two-time Triple Crown winner Bob Baffert fields Roadster, Game Winner and Improbable. However, Roadster will be without jockey Mike Smith, who chose Omaha Beach instead.
  • Omaha Beach had an impressive win with Mike Smith aboard, fighting off a comeback attempt from Improbable.
  • Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott will look for his first Derby win in Wood Memorial winner Tacitus.
  • Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby competitor Master Fencer isn’t expected to be a serious contender but would become the first Japanese-bred horse to run in the Derby.
  • Jon Court is set to ride Long Range Toddy and could become the oldest jockey to win the Derby at age 58.

Who won the 2018 Kentucky Derby? WinStar Farm’s colt Justify, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Mike Smith, won the 144th Kentucky Derby. He went on to win the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes, becoming the 13th horse ever to win the Triple Crown.

What are the biggest Kentucky Derby traditions? Bold formal outfits for both men and women are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby. Celebrities and fans a like go all out, donning creative and colorful hats, bright colors and wild patterns. In fact, hats and outfits are such a big part of the Kentucky Derby that the Derby Museum has a whole exhibit for the most lavished fashions.

The Mint Julep, made with Kentucky bourbon, is the signature drink of the Derby, and Kentucky’s state song “My Old Kentucky Home” is played during the pre-race post parade. After the race, the champion horse is given the iconic garland of roses in the winner’s circle.

What else is there to do during Derby Weekend? NBC will also broadcast the Kentucky Oaks, a Grade 1 stakes race held annually the day before the Kentucky Derby. The Oaks has the same 3-year-old restriction as the Derby but is for fillies only. See the broadcast schedule here. Additionally, there is a week of events at Churchill Downs, and the month-long Kentucky Derby Festival celebrated across Louisville.

Triple Crown winner Justify retires from racing

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DEL MAR, Calif. — Triple Crown winner Justify has been retired from racing because of fluid in his left front ankle.

Trainer Bob Baffert and Justify’s owners made the announcement Wednesday. They said caution over his ankle condition made it impossible to tell if Justify would be healthy enough to race by the fall.

The goal was for Justify to run in a major race this summer and be pointed toward the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs. He was taken out of training earlier this month because of swelling in his ankle.

Justify won all six career starts, becoming the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to capture the Kentucky Derby after not racing as a 2-year-old. He won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes to become the 13th Triple Crown winner and second in the past four years.

Baffert says it’s his responsibility to make sure Justify was perfect to race again in the fall but couldn’t promise that. Justify is expected to return to WinStar Farm in Kentucky next month.

Who is Bob Baffert, trainer of Justify?

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Bob Baffert can win his second career Triple Crown if Justify wins the 2018 Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 9, 2018.

The 65-year-old trainer won his first Triple Crown with American Pharoah in 2015.

Justify has won every race he has run in so far in his racing career (five out of five). If Justify wins at Belmont Park on Saturday, Baffert and Justify will be just the second team to win the Triple Crown since Affirmed won in 1978.

Belmont Stakes: What Time, Where To Watch and More

Baffert’s horses have won 2,848 races during the trainer’s career. Baffert has won five Kentucky Derbies, seven Preaknesses and two Belmonts.

Baffert’s estimated career earnings come in at over $276 million.

What: 150th Belmont Stakes
When: June 9, 2018
Post time: 6:37 p.m ET
Where to watch: NBC, NBC Sports app