Post Position: 1<br>Trainer: Nick Zito<br>Jockey: Julien Leparoux<br> Zito named him in honor of his sire, the accomplished Mineshaft. After winning the Fountain of Youth in late February (a race where the respected Court Vision was third), he crashed like so many others in the Blue Grass, finishing 9th in his only race on a synthetic surface. At this point, even Zito calls him a ''longshot,'' and invokes the name of 2005 winner Giacomo, the patron saint of nearly hopeless Derby causes.
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Tale of Ekati
Post Position: 2<br>Trainer: Barclay Tagg<br>Jockey: Eibar Coa<br> Tagg won the 2003 Derby and Preakness with Funny Cide and has been back twice since. This time he comes in with a long shot (Big Truck) and a genuine contender, winner of the Wood Memorial. Tale of Ekati is named for a diamond mine, which conjures up handy metaphors. However, handicappers are troubled by his Wood win, in which he labored to pass a staggering War Pass in the final furlong, and wonder if he can handle another 1/8 of a mile.
3 of 20Bill Frakes/SI
Post Position: 3<br>Trainers: Nick Zito <br>Jockeys: Rafael Bejarano<br>This horse was named by basketball-crazy co-owner Kenny Troutt of WinStar Farm, who owns two AAU youth basketball teams (and pampers them like NBA franchises). Court Vision has been a popular choice throughout the spring, but finished third in both his major preps, the Fountain of Youth and the Wood Memorial. He does have Gomez, arguably the best jockey in the country.
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Post Position: 4<br>Trainers: Bill Mott<br>Jockeys: Garrett Gomez<br> Anak Nakal is the weaker of Zito's two entries as the trainer pursues his third Derby win. Anak Nakal has not won a race since last November and has been beaten by a cumulative 30 lengths in his three prep races in 2008. If you're desperately looking for a reason to bet him, his last victory was at Churchill Downs -- albeit almost five months ago -- a performance that seemed to infect his owner with a lingering case of Derby Fever.<br><br>Court Vision, on the other hand, was named by basketball-crazy co-owner Kenny Troutt of WinStar Farm, who owns two AAU youth basketball teams (and pampers them like NBA franchises). Court Vision has been a popular choice throughout the spring, but finished third in both his major preps, the Fountain of Youth and the Wood Memorial. He does have Gomez, arguably the best jockey in the country.
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Post Position: 5<br>Trainer: Larry Jones<br>Jockey: Gabriel Saez<br>The last filly to win the Derby was Winning Colors in 1988. The last to attempt it were nine years ago, when Excellent Meeting finished fifth and Three Ring was 19th. ''This is a special filly,'' Jones says. ''So we're taking a shot.'' Generally, the bumper-cay Derby is not the ideal spot for a filly likely to be lodged in mid-pack, but Jones and owner Rick Porter like Eight Belles' natural aggression and they don't particularly like any other horse in the field by a prohibitive margin. It looks like a good year to try this.
6 of 20Bill Frakes/SI
Post Position: 6<br>Trainer: Steve Asmussen<br>Jockey: Robby Albarado<br>One of two ``Z'' horses in the field, named for Egyptian-born owner Ahmed Zayat's Zayat Stables. Z Fortune was presumed to have left the Derby trail after a dull fifth-place finish in the Rebel Stakes in Arkansas on March 15. But a month later, Z Fortune chased Gayego home in the Arkansas Derby, earning enough cash to make the Derby Field. Asmussen is the same trainer who guided Curling to Horse of the Year honors in 2007, but couldn't get the precocious three-year-old home first in the Derby.
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Post Position: 7<br>Trainer: Barclay Tagg<br>Jockey: Javier Castellano<br>His surprise win in the Tampa Bay Derby punched his Derby ticket, but there is little else on Big Truck's resume to recommend him as a threat in the toughest horse race in the world. His victory on that day was his first win since September and he followed it with a disastrous 11th-place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes, which his connections will write off to his disliking Keeneland's artificial surface. Tagg has a much better shot at repeating his Funny Cide karma with Tale of Ekati.
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Post Position: 8<br>Trainer: Michael Matz<br>Jockey: Jose Lezcano<br> After a year's absence, Matz, who trained the late Barbaro, is back in Louisville with an inscrutable three-year-old. His biggest victory came in the March 8 Gotham Stakes in New York, where the Aqueduct oval was so shrouded in fog that nobody saw his performance. He was fifth in the bizarre Blue Grass Stakes, but at least he was closing at the end. Is he fast enough? Anybody's guess.
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Post Position: 9<br>Trainer: Steve Asmussen<br>Jockey: Shaun Bridgmohan<br> Here is the biggest mystery of the Derby season. Prior to Big Brown's stunning victory in the Florida Derby, Pyro was the presumptive Derby favorite, following up a solid two-year-old campaign with back-to-back victories in the Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby. But then Pyro, owned by the family of late Donut King Verne Winchell, failed to run a step in the Blue Grass and finished 10th. Was this because he hated the PolyTrack surface? We will find on Saturday. All signs indicate that Pyro will run huge in the Derby.
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Post Position: 10<br>Trainer: Eoin Harty<br>Jockey: Corey Nakatani<br> A tall, long-striding bay colt who would probably be an overwhelming Derby favorite if not for the fact that all six of his lifetime starts -- four victories and two seconds -- have been on artificial surfaces. He allayed some of the concerns about his aptitude for dirt by scorching a Sunday morning workout in 57.8 seconds. ''He's not a horse who needs to take his surface with him,'' says Harty. His style is perfect for the race; he runs late, but doesn't dawdle early and has been toughened by several bruising efforts. Ladies and gentlemen, your Derby winner.
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Post Position: 11<br>Trianer: Bill Mott<br>Jockey: Rene Douglas<br> Some horses appear to not belong in the Derby. Z Humor would appear to be one of those horses. He is eligible largely because of a big score in a soft two-year-old race late in 2007. His best finish in '08 is a an unthreatening third in the Illinois Derby. As a son of sprint sire Distorted Humor, he might factor in a fast pace scenario, but it is hard to envision him impacting the race any other way, unless he breaks right and jostles Colonel John.
12 of 20Bill Frakes/SI
Post Position: 12<br>Trainer: Bennie Stutts, Jr. <br>Jockey: Manoel Cruz<br> Stutts is Derby week's backstretch darling, an unretouched 70-year-old saddling his first Derby horse. ''This colt has taken me on the ride of my life,'' says Stutts, who does most of his work in the game's AAA leagues. Smooth Air generated buzz by finishing second behind Big Brown's transcendent Florida Derby win almost three months after winning the Hutcheson. If the Derby gods are kind and give Smooth Air a favorable trip, he could be running to hit the board at the finish.
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Bob Black Jack
Post Position: 13<br>Trainer: James Kasparoff<br>Jockey: Richard Migliore<br> A blazingly fast sprinter who has also shown the courage to hang on competitively for distances marginally beyond one mile. He was a game third behind the injured Georgie Boy in the San Felipe Stakes and an equally game second behind Colonel John in the Santa Anita Derby. Like Colonel John, he has run every race in his career on synthetic tracks. Unlike the Colonel, he seems unlikely to get the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Derby.
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Post Position: 14<br>Trainer: Todd Pletcher<br>Jockey: Ramon Dominguez<br> A year ago four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher saddled five horses and still remained winless in 19 tries, a record. This year he is under the radar with Blue Grass winner Monba and longshot speedball Cowboy Cal. Monba, who only reached the Derby by winning the Blue Grass, appears to be healthy for the first time since early in the winter and will be a live play for many bettors.
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Post Position: 15<br>Trainer: H. Graham Motion<br>Jockey: Edgar Prado<br> Prado is one of the most respected jockeys in the business, so his decision to choose Adriano from among several possible Derby mounts was an eye-opener. After winning the March 22 Lane's End Stakes on Turfway Park's artifical surface, Motion has trained Adriano up to the Derby on six weeks' rest, a long gap leading to what is always a contentious and physical horse race. Still, some smart horsemen like Adriano's freshness and tactical versatility and recommend using him in exotic wagers.
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Denis of Cork
Post Position: 16<br>Trainer: David Carroll<br>Jockey: Calvin Borel<br> Can Borel summon up another year's magic to rescue this very good horse from bad planning? A year ago Borel famously gunned Street Sense through a long, tight hole on the rail. Denis of Cork was among the Derby favorites until his connections, fearing a bounce off a big win the Southwest Stakes, gave him seven weeks off and just one more prep race. ``Very frustrating,'' says Carroll. But Denis of Cork now appears to have put his one bad race behind him and will be a threat in the Derby.
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Post Position: 17<br>Trainer: Todd Pletcher<br>Jockey: John Velazquez<br> Cowboy Cal, owned by Houston Texans' owner Bob McNair (Why not ``Texan'' Cal?), earned his way into the Derby with a game second-place finish in the Blue Grass behind stablemate Monba. He hasn't run on a dirt surface since August of 2007, when he was seventh in a dirt sprint at Saratoga, the worst performance of his life, and clearly is Pletcher's B horse in the field. He is unlikely to survive a speedy pace up front.
18 of 20Bill Frakes/SI
Post Position: 18<br>Trainer: Louie Roussell III<br>Jockey: E.T. Baird<br> Twenty years after Risen Star finished third behind Winning Colors and Forty Niner and went on to win both the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, Roussell and his co-owner Ronnie Lamarque are back with the aptly named Recapturetheglory. He won the Illinois Derby from the front (like War Emblem in 2002), but some smart players insist he is more than just a front-running longshot. If he wins, count on Lamarque to sing in the winner's circle.
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Post Position: 19<br>Trainer: Paulo Lobo<br>Jockey: Mike Smith<br> Lobo's first Derby horse looked splendid in wiring the Arkansas Derby, stretching his natural speed farther than his pedigree indicates he should. He loomed as a good horse to bet at a very attractive price, but the post position is deadly: No horse has ever won the Derby from the 19 hole. That said, Gayego has never been worse than second in five career starts and Smith won the Derby on Giacomo three years ago.
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Post Position: 20<br>Trainer: Rick Dutrow<br>Jockey: Kent Desormeaux<br> Is he the second coming of Secretariat or the second coming of Bellamy Road (the much-hyped, beaten favorite in 2005). Dutrow is brashly confident. ``I haven't seen a horse with my eyes that can beat him,'' he said this week, among many other similar declarations. Big Brown is 3-0 lifetime and his wire-to-wire victory in the March 29 Florida Derby was the most impressive prep victory of the year. But before you wager the mortgage, remember two things: No horse since 1915 (Regret) has won the Derby in his fourth lifetime start, and no horse since gelding Clyde Van Dusen has won the Derby from the No. 20 post position. This from a fast horse with chronic foot problems? Too much to ask.
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