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OpinionColumnistsLane Filler

2020 Democratic candidates are in a derby of their own

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign stop at a Teamsters union hall in Pittsburgh on April 29, 2019. Credit: AP/Keith Srakocic

This week, the nation’s eyes are turning to a high-profile race with a very crowded field. Each day brings news of who is in and who is out, whose chances are on the rise and whose fortunes might be fading. Experts analyze the experience and pedigree of each candidate, and of their connections, looking to hints as to who will win the big prize. Just making it to the big stage takes a lot of quantifiable accomplishments, and then a lot of luck, as positioning on that stage comes down to random chance.

But at least this race includes mint juleps, big hats, huge gambling fun and the most exciting two minutes in sports.

The contest we’ll have to go back to focusing on when Saturday’s Kentucky Derby is over won’t see its field shake out until another "Run for the Roses" has passed.

This year there a lot of similarities between the Derby and the Democrats' expanding primary field but some big differences, too.

The Derby has a longshot named Gray Magician. In Joe Biden, the Dems have a silver-haired frontrunner who first lost a presidential run 31 years ago, but hopes to close late (in life). The Derby has War of Will, Tax, Maximum Security and Code of Honor. The Dems have arguments brewing about such things. The Derby has Improbable. The Dems have improbables like Seth Moulton. And Jay Insley. John Hickenlooper and John Delaney. And Marianne Williamson and Eric Swalwell and Andrew Yang.

The Derby had 21 entrants listed, just as the Dems did when Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet entered this week. But the Derby, which ranks entries by points won in other races to grant spots, limits the actual number of runners to 20, and ended up  with only 19 when Haikal and Omaha Beach scratched.

The Dems will use qualifications like money raised and polls to decide who gets into debates, but can’t stop anyone from running, a fact for which New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio must be thankful.

In the Derby, age is not a consideration, as all entrants must be 3-year-olds. For the Dems, it’s a minimum age of 35.

In the Derby, every entry is a certified thoroughbred. But none of these Dems are even thinking of competing in Kentucky.