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A few things you didn't know about the Derby

Uncle Mo

Uncle Mo Credit: Getty Images

Horse racing is a world unto itself, and many of the spectators who dip into the Triple Crown season each year can find the intricacies of the race hard to understand.

To clear up some of our own questions ahead of Saturday’s 137th Kentucky Derby, we spoke this week to Anthony Stabile of; former race caller Dave Johnson; and Ramon Dominguez, the Venezuelan jockey who will ride Stay Thirsty.

How hard is it to come from behind in muddy conditions?

Weeks of rain have made for a sloppy track at Churchill Downs, and conditions that favor front-running horses who aren’t in anyone’s muddy wake. ”It makes it very difficult for a closer,” said Dominguez, fresh off a dedication award from St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children last week. “The dirt’s kicking back from the horse in front pretty hard, as you can imagine. And sometimes it’s even hard to see.”

Will there be a Triple Crown winner this year?

Uncle Mo looked like a threat to win the Derby, Preakness and Belmont before his mixed results as a 3-year-old this season. “I thought before he raced this year that he would be the first Triple Crown winner that we’ve had since Affirmed in 1978,” said Johnson, who hosts “Down the Stretch” Saturdays on Sirius XM. “But I have my questions marks right now, and he’d have to run a huge race in the Kentucky Derby to bring me back into his fold.”

When is the best time to place your bet?

If you’re anxious about last-minute changes to the field, “I would wait until about 10 minutes to post time,” said Stabile, who joined Johnson and others at Gallagher’s Steak House earlier this week for their annual Derby seminar. “A lot’s not going to change after 10 minutes to post.”

What if I just want to bet on a horse because I like its name?

If you feel a hunch, go for it. Injuries and upsets during the lead-up to this Derby have thrown the race wide open. “Any way you can make money in this game, do it,” Stabile said.

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