Several long-standing Kentucky Derby handicapping angles likely will be tested in the 133rd Run for the Roses, a year after the late Barbaro became the first Thoroughbred in 50 years to capture the 3-year-old class' most prestigious competition after a layoff of five weeks or more.
Perhaps topping the list is that no Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion ever has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby since the Sport of Kings -- Queen Elizabeth II will attend this year, by the way -- began sponsoring the multi-race card in 1984.
That's a bottom-line fact current second choice Street Sense stands a solid chance of changing.
The reigning Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion and winner of March's Tampa Bay Derby in his 2007 debut, Street Sense is eyeing becoming the first Thoroughbred to be blanketed in roses with just two Derby preps since Sonny's Halo in 1985.
Street Sense finished second to Dominican in the Blue Grass Stakes.
Favored Curlin will attempt to defy odds by becoming the first colt who didn't race as a 2-year-old to nab the Derby since Apollo in 1882.
Horse handicapping angles and tips at this time of year are as plentiful as prostitutes on the Las Vegas Strip.
Here are a few that even fairly novice horseplayers can digest, though a full field of 20 can mean there's also a lot of baloney to consume!
-- FAVORITES: Chalk triumphs about a third of the time, give or take a few races -- even less on the first Saturday in May, when Churchill Downs traffic can get very congested and the best horse doesn't always get the best ride.
The world went 21 years between the time Triple Crown champion and Derby favorite Spectacular Bid won in 1979 and 2/1 choice Fusaichi Pegasus ruled in 2000.
Just take a gander at some of the double or even triple-digit payouts produced in recent years by long shot champs such as Giacomo and War Emblem.
Consider exotic payoffs involving them and we’re talking Tahitian trips here.
Even when favorites get to the winner's circle, payouts can be satisfying.
Witness 4/1 Smarty Jones in 2004.
-- JOCKEY: If you don't recognize the rider, forget the horse.
Smarty jockey Stewart Elliott was an exception, not the rule.
Check out if the same jockey rode the colt in its last race; if there's no obvious or known reason for a change, dig deeper.
-- TRAINER: See first line under previous heading.
The most significant difference between riders and conditioners may be in the size of egos, where the little guys are at a disadvantage.
There's a reason why you repeatedly see the names Bob Baffert, Charlie Whittingham and D. Wayne Lukas associated with Derby winners.
Todd Pletcher may be the name on folks' lips today, but the Eclipse Award honoree still is seeking his first Derby crown after 14 previous tries.
He has a boatload of hopefuls going this year, though, as much as 25 percent of the field.
-- DISTANCE: The Derby distance is a classic mile-and-a-quarter; a colt/filly needs to have run 1 1/8ths mile at least once prior to reaching the starting gate.
-- DOSEAGE: Distance invokes the subject of dosage, a complex mathematical calculation that pertains to how far a horse is bred to run.
Think golf here, in that the lower the dosage, the better.
A dosage of 4.00 is regarded as high end or a little above par.
-- SPEED AND BEYERS: Speed is not a primary consideration, as Derby horses run further than they ever have before.
It still factors in, though, and this is where Beyers figure.
If you don't know what Beyers are, just bet birthday numbers and hope for the best. A horse, to make things simple and brief, should have collected at least one century (100) Beyer before its Derby start; a 105 or better rates an A-plus.
-- HITTING THE BULLSEYE: Fifteen Derby winners since 1980 have had a bullet workout at Churchill Downs, including Barbaro.
-- GAINING GROUND: Stalkers historically have dominated the Derby, with only nine entrants since 1925 going wire-to-wire, including the filly -- one of just three female victors in Derby annals -- Winning Colors in 1988 and War Emblem in 2002.
-- POSITIONING POSTS: Horses in the first through 12th slots have won 93 of the 132 previous Kentucky Derbies, but six since 1995 have won from farther out.
-- WHO'S THE BABY'S DADDY?: Brief racer Raise A Native never won a Derby himself, but has proven to be quite prolific down in the meadow where the blue grass grows.
The horse's sire line has produced a dozen champions, so at least glance at a Derby candidate's male bloodline.
Raise A Native's dam side of the family has spawned two winners: Barbaro and Real Quiet.