Someone likely will make history in Saturday's 139th Kentucky Derby.
Will it be Kevin Krigger, attempting to be the first black jockey to win the Derby since 1902?
Or Rosie Napravnik, who could become the first woman to ride a Derby winner?
Or Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, a three-time Derby winner making a comeback at 50?
Or trainer D. Wayne Lukas, trying to win his fifth Derby at age 77?
Those are just a few of the story lines in this year's Run for the Roses.
Today's race is wide open, with Orb and Verrazano the early favorites. And thunderstorms are forecast today for Louisville, Ky., complicating prospects for handicappers.
The field was reduced to 19 starters on Friday when Black Onyx was withdrawn after X-rays revealed a non-displaced chip in his left front ankle, but the scratch came too late to add also-eligible Fear the Kitten.
Instead of moving each horse one gate, the stewards decided Black Onyx's No. 1 stall will remain empty.
Krigger will ride Santa Anita Derby winner Goldencents, the only California-based entrant.
Goldencents could give trainer Doug O'Neill back-to-back Derby victories; he won last year with I'll Have Another.
"The biggest similarity, they're both very mentally tough," O'Neill said.
So is Krigger. A native of the Virgin Islands, he was based at Golden Gate Fields before moving to Santa Anita last year.
Black jockeys dominated the Derby during its early years, before Jim Crow laws forced them out. The last black jockey to win was Jimmy Winkfield in 1901 and 1902.
"The irony is that the trainer was an Irish guy named Thomas McDowell (in 1902)," O'Neill said. "So, Kevin's going to be playing Winkfield, and I'm going to be playing McDowell (today)."
Krigger, 29, will make his Derby debut, but O'Neill said that wouldn't be a problem.
"He's just got ice running through his veins," O'Neill said of Krigger's confidence. "He's not in awe of the whole thing."
Napravnik, 25, will ride long shot My Lute in her second Derby appearance; she finished ninth in 2011 on Pants on Fire. She won the 2012 Kentucky Oaks aboard Believe You Can.
Meanwhile, Stevens will try to add to his résumé. He will ride long shot Oxbow for Lukas, who also will saddle Will Take Charge.
"I can just remember back in 1995, my horse Thunder Gulch ... came in here under the radar a little bit and wound up in the winner's circle," Stevens said. "So, I am open for a little bit of déjà vu."
Thunder Gulch was one of two Derby winners for the Stevens-Lukas duo; the other was filly Winning Colors in 1988.
Stevens is confident Oxbow will be in the running today, too.
"I'm sending this horse away from the gate," Stevens said, "and if anybody wants any part of me early on, then they're probably going to pay the price for it."
Stevens said he has no choice; Oxbow will start closest to the rail in the 19-horse field and must come charging out of the gate to have any chance.
Lukas, attempting to become the oldest trainer to win a Derby, will have his 46th and 47th Derby starters - both records. It will be Lukas' 27th Derby; he's 4 for 45 overall.
"I don't get uptight," Lukas told reporters Friday. "I don't even get excited when they go in the gate."
Trainer Todd Pletcher, Lukas' former assistant, has a record-tying five starters: Verrazano, Revolutionary, Overanalyze, Palace Malice and Charming Kitten. He has done this before, too.
"I was able to saddle all five in 2007," said Pletcher, who won his third Kentucky Oaks on Friday with long shot Princess of Sylmar, who rallied down the stretch to upstage 3-2 favorite Dreaming of Julia. "One of the things about the Derby is you're in the paddock a long, long time, so it gives everyone plenty of time."
It's that two minutes during the race that can feel like an eternity, especially with history on the line.
Call The Bee's Debbie Arrington, (916) 321-1075. Follow her on Twitter @debarrington./I>