LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Curlin will have to overcome 19 rivals and a lot of history if he is to win the Kentucky Derby.
The unbeaten colt was installed as the slight 7-2 favorite Wednesday after drawing the No. 2 post position. Affirmed won from that post and went on to sweep the Triple Crown in 1978 -- the last horse to do so.
Going against Curlin is that he didn't compete as a 2-year-old and has run only three races in his career. It's been 125 years since Apollo won after skipping his 2-year-old season, and not since the filly Regret in 1915 has such a lightly seasoned horse worn the blanket of red roses.
Winner of the Arkansas Derby for his third straight victory, Curlin will be ridden by Robby Albarado in a full field of 20 3-year-olds going 1 ¼ miles Saturday.
Besides Curlin, trainer Steve Asmussen will saddle Zanjero, a 30-1 shot, who will start on the outside of Curlin.
"They got a friend near each other," Asmussen said. "They're going to think they're working together."
Curlin is a modest 7-2 morning line favorite for the Derby. (AP)
Tampa Bay Derby winner Street Sense was made the second choice at 4-1. Street Sense, last year's 2-year-old male horse of the year, will try to end the Juvenile jinx: no Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner has ever gone on to win the Derby, an 0-for-23 drought.
Street Sense, with Calvin Borel aboard, will leave from the No. 7 post for trainer Carl Nafzger, who won the 1990 Derby with Unbridled from the same position.
"Our horse has got a little speed," he said. "He can maneuver and watch what's going on."
Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia said it was "very, very close" between Curlin and Street Sense, and he gave the nod to Asmussen's colt.
"He's undefeated," Battaglia said. "We don't know how good this horse is, but he's just been dominating."
Nafzger didn't feel slighted in the least at not being the favorite.
"I don't care what the morning line is," he said. "I'd just like to be No. 1 to the wire."
The Associated Press News Service