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Epicenter, Taiba now the favorites in the Kentucky Derby

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The latest on the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby (all times EDT):

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5:40 p.m

Bettors throw their money behind Epicenter and Taiba, toppling Zandon as the Kentucky Derby favorite less than 75 minutes before the scheduled 6:57 p.m. post time.

Both stallions are listed as 5-1 selections, with Messier at 6-1 and Zandon now at 7-1. Taiba made the biggest jump after drawing odds of 12-1 on Monday and receiving $3.181 million in stakes. That’s just behind Epicenter at $3.380 million, which was the second pick behind Zandon at 7-2.

Zandon, the 3-1 favorite on Monday’s morning line, has $2.698 million in stakes, while Messier has $2.864 million.

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3:30 p.m

Spectators have packed into the first full Kentucky Derby since the coronavirus pandemic began, lining up shoulder to shoulder to place their bets and buy mint juleps.

In the early afternoon, hours before the biggest race of the day, Churchill Downs was packed.

For two years, the pandemic has turned the typical Derby Day extravagance on its head. The 2020 run was postponed to Labor Day weekend and was held without spectators. At last year’s race, the number of tickets sold was strictly limited. This year, Churchill Downs hoped to surpass 150,000 again, the pre-pandemic number.

“It feels like we’ve got a normal life back,” said Michelle Conforto, a milliner from California who was there for her 12th Derby and was delighted to be wading through dense crowds again. “It’s a milestone for us to move forward.”

Her husband Joe wore goggles and wore a stuffed horse named Miss Fancy on his head, decorated in yellow and olive drab to match his wife’s ornate plumed hat that encircled her head a foot in all directions. They are derby games and people stop them to take photos.

“We can hang out with people and enjoy our lives,” said Michelle Conforto. “Today we feel free.”

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1:45 p.m

Spectators are returning in droves for the 148th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, which is targeting near full capacity under the Twin Spiers for the first time since 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.

Zandon is the 3-1 favorite of the morning line and will start from No. 10. Epicenter is the 7-2 second choice from the No. 3 post, with Messier the 8-1 third choice from the No. 6 post. He and stablemate Taiba (12-1, No. 12) will be led by Tim Yakteen, who will lead the training for suspended Hall of Famer Bob Baffert.

At a news conference on Saturday, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear brushed off a question about former President Donald Trump’s alleged appearance at Churchill Downs, noting that Derby Day is “a day of celebration when we hope to put aside any divisions.”

“Hopefully we’ll be more focused on the race ahead than on races in our future,” added Beshear. “It’s a chance for everyone to see that Kentucky welcomes anyone who wants to come to this circuit, including the former President.”

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Other AP Sports: apnews.com/hub/apf-sports and twitter.com/AP_Sports

https://fox5sandiego.com/sports/epicenter-taiba-now-the-favorites-in-kentucky-derby/ Epicenter, Taiba now the favorites in the Kentucky Derby

Sarah Y. Kim

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