The garland of red roses. The solid gold trophy. An estimated payday of $1.24 million.
All those spoils await the winner of the 140th Kentucky Derby to be run on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs in Louisville. A full field of 20 3-year-olds is expected for the 11/4-mile race on May 3, and most of them will be running the distance for the first time.
Here are five things to know about the Derby:
1. Numbers game: Trainer Todd Pletcher has four probable starters in pursuit of his second Derby victory. They are Arkansas Derby winner Danza, Risen Star winner Intense Holiday, Spiral Stakes winner We Miss Artie and Vinceremos, who was 14th in the Blue Grass Stakes. Mike Maker could saddle three horses: Vicar's in Trouble, General a Rod and Harry's Holiday. Bob Baffert, a three-time Derby winner, could start two: Rebel Stakes winner Hoppertunity and Sunland Derby winner Chitu.
2. Draw day: The field of 20 horses is announced Wednesday. That's when the draw is held to determine spots in the starting gate. Last year's winner, Orb, broke from the No. 15 post. The odds are set on draw day, too.
3. California Chrome: California Chrome is expected to be the favorite based on the dominating form he has shown on the West Coast. The 3-year-old colt has won his last four races by a combined 241/4 lengths, including the Santa Anita Derby. He beat Hopportunity and Candy Boy in that race, two rivals he's likely to face in Louisville. California Chrome is trained by Art Sherman and ridden by Victor Espinoza, who won the Derby in 2002.
4. Points system: For the second consecutive year, the field of 20 starters is being determined by points. Churchill Downs instituted a tiered system that awards a sliding scale of points to the top four finishers in 34 designated races. The top 20 point earners at the end of the series will earn a spot in the Derby starting gate if more than 20 horses enter. The field has been limited to 20 horses since 1975..
5. Bucking history: Hoppertunity didn't race as a 2-year-old, setting him up for a chance to break one of the Derby's oldest jinxes: no horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without racing as a 2-year-old.
"I had him entered in a race at 2 and scratched him because I had another one there," Baffert said. "He was ready to run, so that should count."