2014 KENTUCKY DERBY CONTENDERS

The Kentucky Derby will bring together the best three year old race horses in the world on the first Saturday in May, 2014. At this early juncture, however, you'd have a better chance correctly picking lottery numbers than guessing which horses will be entered in the race. Thoroughbred race horses begin their competitive career slowly and most are raced lightly as two year olds. The ones that are raced more heavily usually don't run much until later in their two year old campaign. The first big measure of two year old race horses - and the first glimpse the public will get at which horses will be the class of next year's three year olds - comes at the Breeder's Cup Juvenile. It's not uncommon to see the winner of that race emerge as the presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite for the following year based on that performance alone. You can also see the odds here for Kentucky Derby contenders that are going to be racing in 2014.

A BIG CROP OF THREE YEAR OLDS:

With the start of the 2014 racing season there will be somewhere between 350 and 400 three year olds that will 'declare' for the Kentucky Derby. The nomination process is largely symbolic, with owners putting up $600 to gain eligibility for the three Triple Crown races. With a maximum of 20 horses accepted into the Kentucky Derby field there will be a significant process of elimination among this group of three year olds. This is done via a formal qualification procedure involving the major Derby 'prep races' in the early part of the 2014 racing season.

THE DERBY FIELD STARTS TO EMERGE:

As the 2014 Kentucky Derby draws closer a number of the entrants will start to become apparent. The top three year olds will qualify for Derby inclusion early and easily and their connections will make clear their intention to make the 'Run for the Roses'. Other horses may have to play a 'waiting game' to see if they'll make the field. The final entrants for the 2014 race won't be known until the post position draw on the Wednesday before the running of the Kentucky Derby.

CHECK BACK OFTEN FOR CONTENDER UPDATES:

Starting with the Breeder's Cup Juvenile we'll tell you which rising three year olds to keep an eye on as the 2014 Kentucky Derby contenders class starts to take shape.