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May 02, 2008

Big Brown favored in 134th Kentucky Derby


Louisville, KY (Sports Network) - Florida Derby winner Big Brown has been made the 3-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday's 134th running of the Kentucky Derby. The bay colt will face 19 rivals, including one filly, in the $2 million, 1 1/4 mile race, the first leg in racing's Triple Crown.

The condition of the Churchill Downs track surface will be an important factor in the race. A few thunderstorms are possible on Friday and isolated thunderstorms are forecast for Saturday.

Owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr., Big Brown earned his position as the Kentucky Derby favorite off his wire to wire win in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. The three-year-old is undefeated in three career starts with earnings of $662,700. He has won his three races by a total of 29 lengths.

Big Brown and jockey Kent Desormeaux will start from the far outside post for trainer Rick Dutrow Jr.

Santa Anita Derby champ Colonel John is the 4-1 second choice for the Run for the Roses. The colt will break from post 10 with Corey Nakatani in the saddle.

Colonel John is owned by WinStar Farm and trained by Eoin Harty. The three- year-old has won four of six career starts, with two seconds, and has earned $825,300.

In his first start this year he captured the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita. Last year Colonel John won the Real Quiet Stakes and was runner-up in the CashCall Futurity, both at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Steve Asmussen also has a pair of entrants, including former favorite Pyro. Along with Pyro, Asmussen sends out Arkansas Derby runner-up Z Fortune.

Pyro was the favorite for the Kentucky Derby following his three-length win in the Louisiana Derby. He fell from that position after his last place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes.

For Saturday, Pyro, with jockey Shaun Bridgmohan, has drawn post nine and is 6-1 in the morning-line. The colt is owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds. In his career Pyro has won three of seven starts for $1.05 million.

In 2007 he was second to War Pass in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after a similar result in the Champagne Stakes.

Z Fortune and rider Robby Albarado will start from post six for owner Zayat Stables. The gray colt is 15-1 in the program.

Z Fortune is coming off a second place finish to Gayego in the Arkansas Derby. Earlier this year he was second in the Risen Star Stakes to Pyro and finished fifth in the Rebel Stakes. The three-year-old has lifetime earnings of $386,600 with three wins in six starts.

Four-time champion trainer Todd Pletcher has a pair of runners in the Kentucky Derby, Monba and Cowboy Cal. The two three-year-olds both are exiting the Blue Grass Stakes where Monba finished a neck ahead of Cowboy Cal for the victory.

Monba, owned by Starlight Stable, Don Lucarelli and Paul Saylor, will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez from post 14. Cowboy Cal will be ridden by John Velazquez from post 17 for Stonerside Stable.

Monba, 15-1 in the program, has career earnings of $577,534 with three wins in five lifetime starts. Going into the Blue Grass Stakes he was coming off a 12th place finish behind Cool Coal Man in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in February. Monba closed 2007 with a fourth place result in the CashCall Futurity at Hollywood Park.

Cowboy Cal has won three of six career races for $314,708 and is 20-1 in the morning-line. He began the year with a win in the Tropical Park Derby at Calder Race Course and was second to Why Tonto in the Hallandale Beach Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Arkansas Derby champ Gayego is 15-1 in the morning-line and will start from post 19 with jockey Mike Smith. Smith was aboard Giacomo when the colt won the 2005 Run for the Roses.

Gayego is owned by Cubanacan Stables and trained by Paulo Lobo. The colt began 2008 by winning the San Pedro Stakes and then finished second to Georgie Boy in the San Felipe Stakes. He has won three of five starts for $723,420.

Recapturetheglory came out of nowhere to win the Illinois Derby and earn a place in the Kentucky Derby. The bay colt is 20-1 in the morning-line and will break from post 18 with Eddie Baird in the saddle.

Trained by co-owner Louie Roussel, Recapturetheglory has won two of six career starts for $333,080. The Illinois Derby was the three-year-old's first start in a stakes race.

Roussel and his partner Ronnie Lamarque campaigned Risen Star to victories in the 1988 Preakness and Belmont Stakes which brought the colt the Eclipse Award as champion three-year-old.

Former Kentucky Derby winning trainer Barclay Tagg has entered Tale of Ekati in this year's Run for the Roses. The winner of the Wood Memorial is 15-1 in thye morning-line ans will start from post two with Eibar Coa riding.

Owned by Charles Fipke, Tale of Ekati has won three of six lifetime starts for $769,200. Last year the bay colt finished second in the Sanford Stakes at Saratoga, won the Belmont Futurity and was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

This year Tale of Ekati was a disappointing sixth behind Pyro in the Louisiana Derby before capturing the Wood Memorial over War Pass.

Tagg saddled Funny Cide to victory in the 2003 Run for the Roses. He also sends out Tampa Bay Derby champ Big Truck.

Big Truck is 50-1 in the program and will start from post seven with jockey Javier Castellano. Owned by Eric Fein, the bay colt is coming off an 11th place finish to Monba in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Earlier this year he was fifth in the Hutcheson Stakes and second at Tampa Bay in the Sam F. Davis Stakes. Big Truck has won three of eight starts for $336,880.

Another trainer with two entrants is Bill Mott. He has Court Vision and Z Humor set for the 1 1/4 mile test. Court Vision is 20-1 in the program and will break from post four Garrett Gomez riding. Z Humor, 30-1 in the morning- line, will be ridden by Rene Douglas from post 11.

Owned by IEAH Stables and WinStar Farm, Court Vision has a pair of third place finishes this year. He began 2008 by finishing third to Cool Coal Man in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and was third in the Wood Memorial to Tale of Ekati. He has three wins ins eight starts for $367,542.

Z Humor is owned by Zayat Stables and is coming off a third place finish in the Illinois Derby. In his career he has earned $621,450 in eight starts with two wins.

Smooth Air, runner-up in the Florida Derby, has drawn post 12 for the race and will ridden by Manny Cruz. The bay colt is 20-1 in the morning-line.

Trained by Bennie Stutts, Jr. for Mount Joy Stables, Smooth Air has won three of seven career starts for $395,500. In January he won the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park followed by a third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Bob Black Jack, second in the Santa Anita Derby, will start from post 13 with Richard Migliore riding. Trained by James Kasparoff, the colt is 20-1 in the morning-line and is expected to be one of the pacesetters.

The three-year-old, owned by Jeff Harmon and Tim Kasparoff, began the year by setting a world record for six furlongs in the Sunshine Million Dash. He covered the distance at Santa Anita in 1:06.53, a record for an all-weather track. He followed with a third in the San Felipe Stakes before his run in the Santa Anita Derby behind Colonel John.

Bob Black Jack has earnings of $442,925 with three wins in seven career starts.

Trainer Michael Matz goes after his second Kentucky Derby win with Gotham Stakes champ Visionaire. Matz won the 2006 Run for the Roses with the ill- fated Barbaro.

Visionaire will be ridden by Jose Lezcano from post eight for owners Team Valor and Vision Racing. The chestnut colt is 20-1 in the morning-line.

A winner of three of six career starts, Visionaire is coming off a fifth place finish in the Blue Grass Stakes. He began 2008 by finishing third to Pyro in the Risen Star Stakes. He has $250,760 in lifetime earnings.

Adriano, winner of the Lane's End Stakes, is 30-1 in the morning-line and has drawn post 15 with Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado. Prado was aboard Barbaro to win the Kentucky Derby two years ago.

The chestnut colt is owned by Courtlandt Farms and trained by Graham Motion. He has won three of seven starts for $387,700. Prior to his win in the Lane's End, Adriano was ninth to Cool Coal Man in the Fountian of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.

Two-time Kentucky Derby winning trainer Nick Zito has two runners in Saturday's race. Robert Lapenta's Cool Coal Man will start from the inside post and Four Roses's Anak Nakal has drawn post three. The morning-line has Cool Coal Man at 20-1 and Anak Nakal is 30-1.

Zito won the Run for the Roses in 1991 with Strike the Gold and in 1994 with Go for Gin.

Following his Fountain of Youth victory, Cool Coal Man posted a disappointing ninth in the Blue Grass Stakes. The colt has four lifetime wins in eight starts for $307,531.

Anak Nakal is still trying for his first good effort this year. Since his victory in the Kentucky Juvenile Cup in November, Anak Nakal was eighth in the Fountain of Youth, seventh in the Rebel Stakes and fifth in the Wood Memorial. He has earned $243,416 with two wins in six career starts.

Leading three-year-old filly Eight Belles will take on the boys in this year's Run for the Roses. The gray lady is 15-1 in the morning-line and will start from post five with rider Gabriel Saez. The good post position means the filly will be scratched from Friday's Kentucky Oaks and try to make history on Saturday.

Eight Belles is campaigned by Fox Hill Farms and trainer Larry Jones,the same connections who raced Hard Spun to a second place finish in last year's Kentucky Derby. The filly is undefeated this year in four starts, including victories in the Fantasy, Honeybee and Martha Washington Stakes.

Overall, Eight Belles has career earnings of $308,650 with five wins in nine starts. She would become the fourth filly to win the race joining Regret, Genuine Risk and Winning Colors.

Jockey Calvin Borel goes after a second straight Kentucky Derby win with Denis of Cork. The bay colt is 20-1 in the program and will start from post 16. Borel guided Street Sense to victory in last year's Run for the Roses.

Denis of Cork is trained by David Carroll for owners Mr. and Mrs. William Warren. The three-year-old is coming off a fifth place result in the Illinois Derby as the even-money favorite. Prior that race he won the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park. He has won three of four career starts for $213,552.

Here is the complete field for the 134th Kentucky Derby in post position order: Cool Coal Man 20-1 Julien Leparoux, Tale of Ekati 15-1 Eibar Coa, Anak Nakal 30-1 Rafael Bejarano, Court Vision 20-1 Garrett Gomez, Eight Belles 15-1 Gabriel Saez, Z Fortune 15-1 Robby Albarado, Big Truck 50-1 Javier Castellano, Visionaire 20-1 Jose Lezcano, Pyro 6-1 Shaun Bridgmohan, Colonel John 4-1 Corey Nakatani, Z Humor 30-1 Rene Douglas, Smooth Air 20-1 Manny Cruz, Bob Black Jack 20-1 Richard Migliore, Monba 15-1 Ramon Dominguez, Adriano 30-1 Edgar Prado, Denis of Cork 20-1 Calvin Borel, Cowboy Cal 20-1 John Velazquez, Recapturetheglory 20-1 E.T. Baird, Gayego 15-1 Mike Smith and Big Brown 3-1 Kent Desormeaux.

The filly Eight Belles will carry 121 pounds while the rest of the field will each carry 126 pounds.

Post-time for the Run for the Roses is 6:10 p.m. (et) and will be televised on NBC.

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