While the eyes of the nation and the world will be affixed to the 145th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, horse racing enthusiasts are undoubtedly salivating about the overall quality of Churchill Downs’ Saturday card. Older horses, fillies and those who prefer different distances and the turf all will be on display come Saturday. Millionaires Bricks and Mortar and Marley’s Freedom, as well as the 3-year-old Instagrand, are the marquee attractions.
Cicero Farms’ Marley’s Freedom, a five-time graded-stakes winner and recent millionaire, heads a field of seven fillies and mares entered for the $500,000 Humana Distaff (G1) at seven furlongs on the main track. Trained by two-time Humana Distaff winner Bob Baffert, Marley’s Freedom returns to Churchill Downs for the first time since finishing fourth as the favorite in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. In that race, she came up a half-length shy of the victorious Shamrock Rose.
OXO Equine’s Instagrand, third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) in his most recent start, tops a field of 14 3-year-olds entered for the $400,000 Pat Day Mile (G3). The Pat Day Mile, run on the main track, is scheduled as the day’s 10th race and has a 4:28 post time. Trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, Instagrand won his two starts in 2018 by a combined 20 ¼ lengths and opened 2019 with a third-place finish in the Gotham (G3) before his run in the Santa Anita Derby.
In the race preceding the Derby, Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Bricks and Mortar will shoot for his fourth consecutive victory as he heads a field of 13 4-year-olds and up in the $1 million Old Forester Turf Classic. Trained by Chad Brown, Bricks and Mortar won the Melvin Muniz Memorial Handicap (G2) at Fair Grounds in his most start and prior to that won the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Eyes of the World
Racing fans from around the world will have their eyes glued on their television sets a for unprecedented coverage of the Most Exciting Two Minutes in sports. A five-hour 2019 Kentucky Derby day telecast caps NBC’s 18 hours of Derby week action that also includes live coverage from Churchill Downs on Thursday and Friday.
The network will give racing fans all it can handle and then some later this week with the following coverage:
• Four live races on Thursday at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN
• Six live races on Friday at noon and 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN
• Eight live races on Saturday on NBCSN (noon) and NBC (2:30 p.m.)
NBC Sports will cover every inch of Churchill Downs with more than 50 cameras, including a new robotic reverse-angle super slow-motion camera on the finish line; a helmet camera on the outrider for all races Thursday-Saturday; an 80-foot high main camera tower, plus a new 50-foot high camera on a tower in the middle of Turn 2, a robotic camera in the paddock saddling area, and a camera focused on race caller Larry Collmus.
NBC Sports’ aerial backstretch camera will also return, offering a perspective from 15-18 feet above the track and traveling up to 80 mph. Additionally, multiple jockeys will be mic’d to enhance on-track audio.
For the first time, the crew of Mike Tirico, Jerry Bailey, and Randy Moss will be located on a new showcase set in the highly trafficked paddock area for the first half of the Saturday NBC show.
NBC Sports will also present “live look-ins” on Saturday from several Derby parties across the nation, including at locations in Denver, New York City, Las Vegas, and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.