Kentucky Derby Bolters and Dark Horses With a Chance to Shine in 2020 Showcase

Four months later than intended, the 2020 Kentucky Derby will take place at Churchill Downs on Saturday, featuring an 18-horse field replete with challengers to the throne. Major U.S. online horse racing betting operators have set odds on the favorites and prepared some good promos. 

Originally scheduled for the first Saturday in May, this will mark the first time since 1931 that the Kentucky Derby will not be the first of the Triple Crown races held in a calendar year.

Tiz the Law enters as an unsurprising favorite after he stormed to success at the Belmont Stakes in late June, but many may hold doubts over whether he can become the third Triple Crown winner in five years.

More than a dozen other horses will seek to end his run at the clean sweep in Louisville, Kentucky, but a few lurking sleepers in particular look to be worth more than their price suggests.

Max Player, 30-1

Steve Asmussen is 0-20 in Kentucky Derby starts—a Kentucky Derby record among trainers without a victory—but is hopeful of that all changing when Max Player takes to Churchill Downs on Saturday.

This 30-1 outsider was previously trained by Linda Rice and amassed a 2-1-1-3-3 record under her charge, with a chance Asmussen can make even more of the three-year-old following an August transfer to his stable.

Owners George Hall and SportBLX are far from the most experienced outfit in regards to Kentucky winnings, but the local rides hold an advantage over those travelling from further afield.

Money Moves, 50-1

Speaking of local contenders, Kentucky-bred Money Moves enters the 2020 Derby hoping to hit the big time after only three races, though he’s never finished outside the top two in that short career to date.

Money Moves may be the only challenger with fewer than five races to his name, but that lack of experience can work to make him an enigmatic entrant as much as some might consider it a handicap.

Lasting a mile-and-a-quarter may prove a hindrance for a horse who’s inexperienced at that distance, but two-time Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher—who has entered more horses in this race than any other (54)—can help make up in that area. 

Jockey Javier Castellano has competed in the Derby 13 times without a victory and came closest in 2018 with a third-place finish aboard Audible. Money Moves has the best chance of breaking that trend if he can get a nose in front early and look to surprise from some of the longest odds available.

Thousand Words, 15-1

The other legendary trainer out to make history Saturday is Bob Baffert, who has two contenders in the running and is one Derby win shy of tying Ben Jones’ all-time record of six victories at Churchill Downs.

Authentic is the pick grabbing most attention this week, but 15-1 alternative Thousand Words is not to be sniffed at either after winning four of his seven races to date. That includes a first-place finish in his last outing at Del Mar on August 1, when he pipped fellow Derby runner Honor A.P. to the finish line. 

Thousand Words’ sire, Pioneerof the Nile, was a runner-up in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and also counts 2015 Triple Crown champion, American Pharoah, among his offspring.