Zandon Tabbed as 3-1 Kentucky Derby ML Favorite from Post 10

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The field is set for the Kentucky Derby | Coady

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LOUISVILLE, KY – With all of the morning buzz surrounding Zandon (Upstart) since his dramatic come-from-behind victory in the GI Toyota Blue Grass S., Mike Battaglia installed the handsome dark bay as the 3-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday's GI Kentucky Derby after drawing right in the middle in post 10.

The Jeff Drown colorbearer, a $170,000 Keeneland September Yearling purchase, has posted a pair of much-discussed breezes for Chad Brown following his breakthrough win at Keeneland, including a visually impressive five-furlong move in 1:00.40 (7/43) at Churchill Downs Apr. 29. Flavien Prat rides.

“Perfect,” Brown said of the draw. “We're ready to go.”

Epicenter (Not this Time), drawn on the inside in post three, was made the second choice at 7-2. The $260,000 KEESEP graduate enters off impressive victories for Winchell Thoroughbreds and Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen in the GII Risen Star S. and GII Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby. Asmussen has failed to find the mark with 23 previous starters in the Run for the Roses.

“Like any race, you want to get away nicely from the gate and go from there,” Asmussen said. “How long he stands in there, how long it takes to load, 150,000 people staring at him–it's a lot. [Jockey] Joel [Rosario] is very confident in rhythm of the horse. So, if he is away cleanly Joel will let him be who he is.”

The top two choices have met once before. Zandon was back in third after a slow start and wide trip while making his first start of the season in Epicenter's front-running Risen Star score.

Louisville native Brad Cox, promoted to first with Mandaloun (Into Mischief) following the well-documented medication disqualification of the ill-fated Medina Spirit (Protonico) in last year's Derby and subsequent suspension of Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, will look to put them back to back. He has entered the trio of Cyberknife (Gun Runner) (post 16), Tawny Port (Pioneerof the Nile) (post 18) and 'TDN Rising Star' Zozos (Munnings) (post 19).

“I think with the Derby starting at the head of the stretch, and a quarter of a mile to the first turn, they'll be able to get into position,” Cox said.

Former Baffert runners, unbeaten 'TDN Rising Star' Taiba (Gun Runner) (post 12) and 'TDN Rising Star' Messier (Empire Maker) (post six), punched their tickets to Louisville for trainer Tim Yakteen following a one-two finish in the GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby.

Taiba, a $1.7-million Fasig-Tipton Florida 2-year-old purchase by Medina Spirit owner Zedan Racing Stables, looks to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby in just his third start since Leonatus in 1883. Messier, a 15-length winner of the GIII Robert B. Lewis S., is the third choice on the morning-line at 8-1; Taiba is listed at 12-1.

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, seeking his third win in the Kentucky Derby, will be represented by the trio of: GII Wood Memorial S. winner Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) (post one), GI Curlin Florida Derby runner-up and 'TDN Rising Star' Charge It (Tapit) (post eight) and Louisiana Derby third Pioneer of Medina (Pioneerof the Nile) (post 11).

Live coverage of the Kentucky Derby will be provided by NBC from 2:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. (ET). Post time for the Derby is 6:57 p.m.

From the rail out, the complete field of 20 for the Kentucky Derby:

1-Mo Donegal (Uncle Mo) (10-1)

2-Happy Jack (Oxbow) (30-1)

3-Epicenter (Not This Time) (7-2)

4-Summer Is Tomorrow (Summer Front) (30-1)

5-Smile Happy (Runhappy) (20-1)

6-Messier (Empire Maker) (8-1)

7-Crown Pride (Jpn) (Reach the Crown {Jpn}) (20-1)

8-Charge It (Tapit) (20-1)

9-Tiz the Bomb (Hit It a Bomb) (30-1)

10-Zandon (Upstart) (3-1)

11-Pioneer of Medina (Pioneerof the Nile) (30-1)

12-Taiba (Gun Runner) (12-1)

13-Simplification (Not This Time) (20-1)

14-Barber Road (Race Day) (30-1)

15-White Abarrio (Race Day) (10-1)

16-Cyberknife (Gun Runner) (20-1)

17-Classic Causeway (Giant's Causeway) (30-1)

18-Tawny Port (Pioneerof the Nile) (30-1)

19-Zozos (Munnings) (20-1)

20-Ethereal Road (Quality Road) (30-1)

Also-Eligibles: Rich Strike (Keen Ice) (30-1) and Rattle N Roll (Connect) (30-1).

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