Fred Faour: First look at the 20-horse field for Saturday's Kentucky Derby

Justify is your 3-1 favorite for the Derby.

Saturday is Derby Day, and if you get a chance go to Sam Houston Race Park to watch the races and come by and say hello. I will be in the ESPN VIP section. There will be a lot of content here over the next couple days. I will have a Derby trends story for SportsMap on Thursday, actual picks and plays (including my trfiecta) for Friday and hopefully a video as well for Thursday. For, I will be doing a podcast with RJ Bell on Thursday and premium plays there on Friday as well.

For now, here is a breakdown of every horse in the race (betting number/post position is next to each horse's name):


Trainer: Jason Servis

Jockey: Paco Lopez

Record: 9 starts, 4 wins, 1 second, 0 thirds.

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...He runs the race of his life. Showed some promise as a 2-year-old but is probably better as a sprinter/miler and it would take a career-best effort to even sniff the board.


Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Robby Albarado

Record: 8-2-3-2

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He shows massive improvement. His first start of the year was solid, but has tailed off. Like the 1 horse, he showed promise as a 2-year-old. Might be primed for a big effort but likely a midpack finisher.


Trainer: Dale Romans

Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Record: 5-3-0-1

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He can wire this group. He is the speed of the race, and if you can toss his last effort he could hang around a long time. More likely he gets pressed by the likes of Justify and perhaps Flameaway and can’t handle the pressure for the full distance. But if the other speed fails to break he could last a while.


Trainer: Mark Casse

Jockey: Jose Lezcano

Record: 9-5-2-0

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He can get an easy lead and run the race of his life, no easy feat considering the horse to his inside. He is a nice runner and usually gives his all but seems a little below the top tier and likely up against it from a pace standpoint.


Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Record: 5-4-0-1

Odds: 8-1

He will win if...He can improve just a little, and he certainly can. Dominated the Florida preps for this and is going in the right direction. One of four Pletcher horses with a real shot, although jockey John Velazquez opted for another of Pletcher’s contenders. He has a real chance here.


Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Record: 5-2-2-1

Odds: 12-1

He will win if...Brown, a terrific trainer, has him ready, and he very well could. The horse won the BC Juvenile to cap off a solid 2-year-old campaign. He flopped in his 3-year-old debut, but needed that race, and bounced back with a grind-it-out win in a slow Blue Grass Stakes. Will need to be better, but Brown has been pointing to this and should have him on go. Serious contender at a nice price.


Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Mike Smith

Record: 3-3-0-0

Odds: 3-1

He will win if...He really is as good as he has looked in his three starts. He is incredibly fast, Baffert knows how to win Derbys (four) and the horse will be able to make his own luck. Still, he did not race at 2, and by now you have heard that horses that did not race as 2-year-olds have not won the Derby since 1882. He was also beating small fields in California, and will be tested here like never before. Short price is unappealing, but he will have to be dealt with.


Trainer: Tom Amoss

Jockey: James Graham

Record: 8-1-3-1

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...He improves significantly and some of the big dogs fail to fire. He is a really nice, solid horse, but has yet to run anything good enough to win this. More likely he is in the mix for a minor award.


Trainer: Bill Mott

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Record: 3-1-1-0

Odds: 20-1

He will win if...He takes a big step forward off his solid second in the Florida Derby. That was just his third race, and he ran very well. Mott is one of the most respected trainers in the business, and would not be here if he did not think the horse had a shot. Well bred to handle the distance. A live, sneaky long shot.


Trainer: Keith Desormeaux

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux

Record: 10-3-3-2

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...The race collapses and he gets the jump on the other closers. An interesting sort, he does not seem fast enough to win this, but could easily mess up the back end of the tris and superfectas. Another solid runner who might be in too deep, but would not be a shock for a minor award.

11. BOLT d’ORO

Trainer: Mick Ruis

Jockey: Victor Espinoza

Record: 6-4-1-1

Odds: 8-1

He will win if...He improves off a strong second to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby. He was not cranked all the way up for that one, and Justify was able to coast to an easy lead, so he was up against it from a pace standpoint, too. Has yet to run a bad race, should be in the second flight early and should be sitting on a big one. Another serious contender.


Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin

Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Record: 6-3-1-1

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He gets a clean trip, improves a little and has things fall his way. Was a troubled second in the Wood, but has a stakes win at Churchill as a 2-year-old, a nice late kick and is battle tested. A live long shot.


Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas

Jockey: Luis Contreras

Record: 8-3-1-1

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...Lukas can find some old magic. This guy is a gutsy sort who won the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. Lukas horses have a tendency to improve out of nowhere. He will need to do that, because he just does not seem fast enough to compete with these.


Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

Jockey: Ryan Moore

Record: 7-4-1-0

Odds: 5-1

He will win if...He can overcome the Dubai curse. No horse has prepped there and made much of an impact on the Derby. But this guy destroyed the UAE Derby field by almost 19 lengths, and also shipped over here to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at 2, so this is not new griound for him. He will be up close, and if he takes to Churchill and the travel was not too much, this should be the horse to end the Dubai drought.


Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer

Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke

Record: 7-2-2-1

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...He won’t. He really has not shown anything even remotely close to winning this. He should improve, but it would be a monumental upset if he had any impact at all.


Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Luis Saez

Record: 4-4-0-0

Odds: 6-1

He will win if...He can overcome that 1882 bit that we mentioned with Justify. All four starts -- all wins -- have come at 3. He has looked sharp in his last two, but was able to set a slow pace in Arkansas and he won’t be able to do that here. Still, he can stalk a little as well. He drifted in the stretch of the Arkansas Derby and that kind of erratic behaviour can get you beat in Kentucky. Still, a contender.


Trainer: Bob Baffert

Jockey: Flavien Prat

Record: 6-1-3-2

Odds: 30-1

He will win if...He can run his best race yet. Looked like one of the best 2-year-olds out there last year but has not had much luck chasing Magnum Moon at 3 and has not really improved. Will need a big move forward to turn the tables.


Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: John Velazquez

Record: 5-3-0-1

Odds: 12-1

He will win if...That win in the Wood Memorial was not a fluke. He had been close in stakes company at Tampa, but exploded when he went to New York. Was it a one-off? Jockey Velazquez had his choice between this one, Noble Indy and Audible, and he chose this guy. Still like the horse that finished second behind him in the Wood a little better but hard to ignore this guy.


Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Record: 4-3-0-1

Odds: 30-1

He will win if.... He improves significantly. He certainly could. The fourth Pletcher horse probably beat the weakest group to get here and has been the least impressive of all of them. But it’s also possible we have not seen his best race yet.


Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Record: 7-1-3-1

Odds: 50-1

He will win if...Well, let’s face it; he probably won’t. But this is the kind of horse I love as an exacta/trifecta back end kicker. His last race was better than it looks on paper, he has a habit of clunking up for second or third and the added distance should help with that. He reminds me a lot of Lookin’ at Lee, another Asmussen runner who did the same thing by running second last year. Love the 50-1 price and will be using him in my plays.


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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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