Kentucky Derby 2014: Post time, TV schedule, contenders and more

Kevin C. Cox

The biggest event in horse racing comes and goes quickly, so don't miss it.

The 140th Kentucky Derby is Saturday, the biggest two minutes in horse racing that kicks off the Triple Crown with a 1 1/4-mile race at Churchill Downs in Louisville.

The 19-horse field will post with a prohibitive favorite in California Chrome and a handful of strong challengers. California Chrome, which would be just the third California-bred horse to win the Run for the Roses in its history and first since Decidedly in 1962, is a 5-2 favorite, well ahead of second choice Wicked Strong. California Chrome will start in the No. 6 post.

Wicked Strong was initially thought to be a more serious challenger to California Chrome, but Wicked Strong drew the furthest outside post in Wednesday's post-position draw, and that's considered to be quite a handicap in a race as congested as the Kentucky Derby. Since the Derby started using starting gates in 1930, only one horse has ever won from the No. 20 position, and it took a horse as dominant as 2008's Big Brown to do it.

Big Brown is also relevant this week because he's the last horse to win the Run for the Roses when going off as a favorite with odds lower than 3-1, a streak California Chrome would reset were he to win.

Hoppertunity, who was made the second choice when the post position was drawn, was scratched on Thursday. Bob Baffert, Hoppertunity's trainer and a three-time Derby winner, still has one horse in the field: Chitu, at 20-1 odds. A Baffert horse has not won a Kentucky Derby since 2002's War Emblem.

Three horses are at 8-1 odds before betting began: Intense Holiday, Danza and Tapiture. Another horse to watch is Ride On Curlin, a son of 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin. Ride On Curlin's jockey is Calvin Borel, the charismatic Cajun who became the first jockey to win three Derbies in four years when he did so in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Borel, famous for riding the inside rail to cut as much distance off races as possible, will start in the No. 19 post with Ride On Curlin.

The race will air on NBC, with live coverage beginning at 4 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will begin its coverage from Churchill Downs on Saturday at noon ET. NBC Sports Network will also have a post-Derby show beginning at 7 p.m. ET.

Post time for the 140th Kentucky Derby is 6:24 p.m. ET.

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