Zandon Emerges as Contender for Kentucky Derby

Neither Chad Brown nor Steve Asmussen’s Kentucky Derby Quest

Chad Brown and Steve Asmussen are both highly accomplished trainers in the horse racing world, but there is one elusive prize missing from their resumes—a Kentucky Derby win. Despite their impressive track records, both Brown and Asmussen are 0-for-30 in America’s most prestigious horse race. However, this year, they are both hoping to change their fortunes as they saddle the two morning-line favorites for Saturday’s 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

The Morning-Line Favorites

Chad Brown’s runner, Zandon, has been installed as the 3/1 morning-line favorite. Drawing post position 10 on Monday morning, Zandon enters the race with the momentum of a Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes victory. Under the guidance of jockey Flavien Prat, Zandon made a remarkable comeback from 10th place on the backstretch to secure the win. Brown expressed his satisfaction with the post position, feeling confident about Zandon’s chances in the race.

On the other hand, Steve Asmussen’s top contender, Epicenter, holds morning-line odds of 7/2. Epicenter has been dominant in the Derby prep races at Fair Grounds, winning three out of four, including the Gun Runner, Risen Star, and Louisiana Derby. Drawing post position 3, Epicenter will be ridden by Eclipse Award-winning jockey Joel Rosario. Asmussen sees this as a prime opportunity to rectify his lack of a Derby win and expressed his confidence in the horse’s ability to perform well.

Vegas Jumps on the Zandon Bandwagon

Following the Kentucky Derby draw, Circa Sports updated their Derby future board, making Zandon and Epicenter the co-favorites at 9/2. Initially, Epicenter had been the book’s favorite during the late winter and early spring. This shift in odds reflects the growing faith in Zandon’s potential to secure victory in the “Run for the Roses.”

Tim Yakteen, the trainer of Messier and Taiba, who were previously trained by Bob Baffert, has reason to be satisfied with the draw as well. Messier, the third favorite at 8/1, drew post position 6 with the experienced John Velazquez in the irons. Taiba, a promising horse who won the Santa Anita Derby, drew post position 12 at odds of 12/1 with the capable Mike Smith as the jockey. Yakteen humorously mentioned that although they had to wait until the end of the draw, they were ultimately pleased with the post positions.

The Challenge of the Inside Rail

Unfortunately for Mo Donegal, one of trainer Todd Pletcher’s entries, luck didn’t favor him in the post position draw. For the second consecutive year, one of Pletcher’s horses has drawn the dreaded inside rail. Mo Donegal, the fourth favorite at 10/1, will have to contend with the challenging position that hasn’t produced a Derby winner since 1986. However, Pletcher remains optimistic, citing Mo Donegal’s previous success winning the Wood Memorial from the rail. He believes the horse’s experience and ability to handle the position could work to their advantage.

Brad Cox’s Derby Trio on the Outside

Brad Cox, another prominent trainer, finds himself with three Derby contenders—Cyberknife, Tawny Port, and Zozos—all situated on the outer edge of the starting gate. Cyberknife, the winner of the Arkansas Derby, will start from post position 16 at odds of 16/1. Tawny Port drew post position 18 at odds of 30/1, followed closely by stablemate Zozos in post position 19 at odds of 20/1. Cox is pleased with the draw, confident that their starting positions on the outside will allow ample time for his horses to find their positions in the race.

Lastly, Ethereal Road finds itself in post position 20, the farthest outside post position. Trained by the legendary D. Wayne Lukas, Ethereal Road secured a spot in the Kentucky Derby field when Un Ojo withdrew due to a bone bruise. With odds of 30/1, Ethereal Road faces the challenge of navigating the initial stretch to position itself for a strong performance.


The stage is set for an exciting 148th Kentucky Derby as trainers Chad Brown and Steve Asmussen seek their first victories in the prestigious race. With morning-line favorites Zandon and Epicenter, they are poised to make a strong showing. Meanwhile, the post position draw has presented both challenges and opportunities for various contenders. As the countdown to the Derby continues, fans and bettors eagerly await the momentous event that will captivate the nation’s attention and crown the newest champion of the turf.


1. How many Kentucky Derby wins do Chad Brown and Steve Asmussen have?

Neither Chad Brown nor Steve Asmussen has won the Kentucky Derby on their extensive resumes.

2. Who is the morning-line favorite for the Kentucky Derby?

Zandon, trained by Chad Brown, is the morning-line favorite with odds of 3/1.

3. What are the odds for Epicenter?

Epicenter, trained by Steve Asmussen, has morning-line odds of 7/2.

4. Which horses benefited from the post position draw?

Messier (post position 6) and Taiba (post position 12) are examples of horses that drew favorable post positions according to their trainers.

5. What challenges does the inside rail present?

The inside rail, drawn by Mo Donegal, the fourth favorite, is considered challenging as no horse has won the Kentucky Derby from that position since 1986.

Picture of Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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