The Oaks broadcast will extend from 12-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Derby Day begins on NBCSN from 12:30-2:30 p.m. ET before switching to NBC for a five-hour bloc from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET. The Derby and Oaks also may be streamed live on NBCSports.com and are available on the NBC Sports app.
Veteran analyst Randy Moss will again be a mainstay as NBC examines every aspect of the Derby and the fanfare that surrounds it. The pandemic forced last year’s race to be shifted to the first Saturday in September and to be run without fans.
Moss dealt with a wide range of topics during a question-and-answer session conducted by Tom Pedulla on behalf of America’s Best Racing:
PEDULLA: Will this year’s Derby broadcast feel more normal?
MOSS: Well, last year we did it sitting in a studio in Stamford, Conn., and watching images of an empty Churchill Downs, which was beyond bizarre. We’re certainly hoping that this year feels like it’s back to normal.
PEDULLA: Will you have your normal crew at Churchill?
MOSS: It will be divided. For the main Kentucky Derby telecast, which will cover five hours from 2:30-7:30 pm on Saturday, the entire production crew will be on site. For the earlier undercard races on NBCSN on Saturday from noon to 2:30 p.m. ET, the producer, the director, all of the assorted production personnel will be doing it remotely from NBC studios in Connecticut. All of the announcers will be on site, but the production will be split.
PEDULLA: I think Essential Quality has to be the favorite. He is undefeated, after all. How do you view Essential Quality?
MOSS: As a whole, I think the 3-year-olds going into the Derby on paper look to be slightly below average based on speed figures and other metrics. Essential Quality is the most consistent and the horse that has performed at the highest level of the 3-year-olds so far. But not by much. If all of the horses run their typical races, he’ll probably win. If any horse in the field runs an above-average race for the Derby, they’ll probably beat him.
PEDULLA: What is your assessment of Brad Cox’s other horse?
MOSS: Mandaloun is a complete mystery. His Louisiana Derby performance (sixth) was inexplicable. They don’t even have an explanation for it, the people closest to him. The last time a horse was beaten by 10 lengths or more in the final prep and came back to win the Kentucky Derby was 1908, so that doesn’t bode well for Mandaloun. But if somehow he could bounce back to his form in the Risen Star and, before that, the Lecomte, then he would certainly have a heck of a chance.
MOSS: I thought Rock Your World ran a phenomenal race in the Santa Anita Derby. The upside to Rock Your World is that he had already proven, in his previous race on the grass, that he doesn’t need the early lead to win. It was just a tactical move in the Santa Anita Derby to put him on the lead. I think he’s got a strong chance.
PEDULLA: Can Steve Asmussen finally break through in the Derby?
MOSS: Everybody in the sport knows that Steve is very likely to win one of these Derbys. The 0 for 21 record that he has in the Derby so far is strictly circumstance. It’s just a matter of time before Steve breaks through. Midnight Bourbon, I think, has a better chance than Super Stock, but he’ll still probably be 12-1 or 15-1.
MOSS: I definitely think so. He’s been managed with typical aplomb by Pletcher. There is nobody better than Pletcher at managing the prep races and the points and, before that, it was the earnings, to deliver what his owners want, and that is a runner in the Kentucky Derby. No one has done that better than Todd Pletcher in the history of the sport. This is a horse that, on paper, looks like he has a reasonable chance to win. The Florida Derby was a weak field. That is the main argument that can be used against Known Agenda. But it does look like a horse whose star is rising.
PEDULLA: Do you give any of Pletcher’s other horses a shot?
MOSS: I don’t like Sainthood. I do think Dynamic One has a decent chance to be one of these 30-1 or 40-1 longshots that can be of value to trifecta and superfecta bettors. He was much the best in the Wood Memorial. Bourbonic, Pletcher’s other horse, might have won. But Bourbonic got through on the rail all the way to win. Dynamic One was at least four or five lengths better than Bourbonic in that race. I think he is an attractive play underneath in the exotics. I don’t give Bourbonic much of a chance.
PEDULLA: Can this be the year Bob Baffert sets the record for most Derby victories?
MOSS: Medina Spirit is, obviously, a very determined, very consistent horse with excellent tactical speed that is probably going to be able to put himself in the right spot early in the race. Then the question just becomes “Is he good enough?” Based on what he showed in the Santa Anita Derby, he’s probably not quite good enough and he’s going to have to take a step forward. But it’s Bob Baffert.
MOSS: If he gets the right trip, absolutely. He’s fast. He’s shown that consistently and he’s also versatile. The primary con to Hot Rod Charlie is that he’s unlikely to get the same kind of trip in the Kentucky Derby that he got in the Louisiana Derby. Because of his tactical speed in the Louisiana Derby, he had a rail trip. He was on the rail both turns, which was a big advantage. He’s unlikely to get that kind of trip in a 20-horse field in Kentucky.
PEDULLA: May I ask you for a live longshot?
MOSS: Well, I’ll give you two live longshots. The first one we’ve already talked about, Dynamic One, and the other would be O Besos. He figures to improve at the mile and a quarter. He definitely would have the chance to hit the board at what could be a big price.