Get out your julep-making supplies and dust off your giant hats, for tomorrow is the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby.
One fun aspect of the annual event is the quirky names bestowed upon each entrant and this year is no exception. In fact, one has a particular pop culture significance. Starting from the No. 4 post will be Danza, a colt named after-you guessed it-Who’s the Boss? actor Tony Danza.
The horse is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and recently won the Arkansas Derby, which then drew the attention of the actor, who said he is “very excited” to root for his namesake. The human Danza will even be in attendance at Churchill Downs on Saturday as a guest of Eclipse.
“It’s been a really fun experience to be involved with Tony and his team,” Eclipse President Aron Wellman said. “It sounds like he’s a fantastic guy. We’re thrilled to have him be part of the experience at the derby."
So just how did Danza get his celebrity name, anyway? The horse’s father is named Street Boss, which brought the actor’s classic ‘80s sitcom to the minds of some Eclipse staffers. After Who’s the Boss and Tony Micelli (Danza’s character on the show) were both rejected as names, Eclipse finally decided on simply Danza.
“Everybody loves Tony Danza. He’s an icon in American culture,” Wellman said. “It’s been a lot of fun and thankfully the horse has been a very good horse and has done the name proud.”
Wellman also joked that the actor probably wouldn't have been too happy if Danza was a bust but added that he is luckily “a sensational horse and a legitimate contender for the biggest race in the world.”
Speaking of contenders, the official Kentucky Derby website has updated the odds for each horse going into tomorrow’s race. As of Friday afternoon, the favorite is California Chrome with 5-2 odds, while Danza sits at 8-1.
Noted horse trainer Bob Baffert confirmed on Thursday that his horse, Hoppertunity, would be scratched from the field. The horse reportedly has an injured hoof, possibly a bruise, but the injury does not appear to be serious and Baffert said competing in the Preakness on May 17 is not out of the question. Hoppertunity had previously been given 6-1 odds and was a favorite for second place this weekend. With the scratch, Wicked Strong becomes the second-favorite horse and has been bumped up from 8-1 odds to 6-1.
Baffert has another horse in the race, Chitu, who will be running from the No. 12 position and has 20-1 odds. See the full list of contenders and odds here.
Coverage for the 140th Kentucky Derby will air from 4-7 p.m. ET on NBC. Pre- and post-event coverage will air from 12-4 p.m. ET and 7-7:30 p.m. ET, respectively, on NBC Sports. There looks to be some extra social media buzz, too, as 13 of the horses have official Twitter accounts or Facebook pages or have updates given through their trainers.