Here’s who Mark Pope and the new UK basketball coaches are picking in the Kentucky Derby

New Kentucky men’s basketball head coach Mark Pope’s first game against Arkansas and former UK coach John Calipari will take place at Rupp Arena.

The picks are in for Mark Pope and the members of his UK basketball coaching staff.

These choices have nothing to do with who will be on the Wildcats’ roster for the 2024-25 season.

Hours before the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Pope and his four assistant coaches made their predictions public in a post from the official UK basketball account on X.

Pope, who was hired last month, as the new head coach of the Wildcats, is going with Sierra Leone, a fitting choice for the former UK basketball player who will be returning to Lexington nearly 20 years after his college playing career ended. Sierra Leone was the winner of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, the track’s premier Derby prep.

UK associate head coach Alvin Brooks III landed on Fierceness, the Florida Derby winner and morning-line favorite for Saturday’s race.

Assistant coach Jason Hart went with Louisiana Derby winner Catching Freedom, while fellow assistant coach Cody Fueger picked Just a Touch and associate coach Mark Fox chose Forever Young as his Derby winner.

The Wildcats’ new coaches largely played it safe with their picks. Their five choices are actually the five horses with the shortest odds for Kentucky Derby 150, with Fierceness at 5-2 on the morning line, followed by Sierra Leone (30-1), Catching Freedom (8-1), Forever Young (10-1) and Just a Touch (10-1).

At the time of the coaches’ predictions, Fierceness was the 3-1 favorite, with Pope’s choice, Sierra Leone, sitting as the second choice at 5-1 in the live Derby odds.

Post time for the Kentucky Derby is set for 6:57 p.m., and the race will be shown live on NBC.

If you want some addition predictions to aid your Kentucky Derby betting strategies, here’s a look at who are panel of horse racing experts are picking to show up big in Saturday’s race.

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