The first Saturday in May is a special day on the US thoroughbred racing calendar every year. Thoroughbred horse owners, trainers, and jockeys all want to have their horse entered in the Kentucky Derby for a shot at racing history.
However, only a select few will be entered in the mile-and-a-quarter race. A full field of entrants for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky consists of 20 horses in two starting gates placed across the width of the dirt track. The Derby has been limited to 20 horses since 1975. Prior to that, the largest field for the Kentucky Derby was 23 horses in 1974.
For the second consecutive year, the twenty horses in the race are determined by a points system with points accumulated based on Derby prep race finishes dating back to last fall. The races with the most points began in late winter and culminated with the Blue Grass Stakes back on April 12 in Lexington, Kentucky.
Currently, there are six horses with at least 100 points earned over the prep season. California Chrome leads that group with 150 points, followed by Vicar's in Trouble, Dance With Fate, Wicked Strong, Samraat, and Danza.
The Kentucky Derby is the first leg of thoroughbred racing's 'Triple Crown,' which includes the Preakness Stakes on May 17 in Baltimore and the June 7th Belmont Stakes in New York. There hasn't been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed won all three races in 1978.
This Saturday's Kentucky Derby will be televised on NBC, beginning at 6 p.m. Eastern time.