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Matz trains the strapping colt for Phyllis Wyeth, the former steeplechase rider who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1962 car accident and gets around in a wheelchair. She is married to painter Jamie Wyeth, whose father was renowned Andrew Wyeth.

Gemologist, undefeated in five races, is trained by 2010 Derby winner Pletcher, yet he’s been overshadowed by the other entrants since arriving late in Louisville on Tuesday, getting most of his training in Florida.

“He’s done everything he could possibly do,” Pletcher said, “but part of it might be because the 2-year-old races he ran in weren’t the Breeders’ Cup races. He was a little late in developing.”

Two of Gemologist’s wins came at Churchill Downs.

Hansen is a standout on looks alone. The colt is nearly white and his outspoken owner Kendall Hansen tried to doll him up by having his tail painted blue for the Blue Grass three weeks ago. The track stewards didn’t approve and neither did trainer Mike Maker.

Nine horses are expected to start from November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile that Hansen won by edging out a hard-charging Union Rags, proof of the depth of this field.

“It’s amazing how well the major contenders have held their form,” trainer Steve Asmussen said. “It’s a very competitive race, and there are some very good horses.”

Like Baffert and Pletcher, Asmussen has two horses in the Derby — Daddy Nose Best and Sabercat. He came close last year when Nehro finished second to Animal Kingdom.

“It is definitely on the bucket list,” Asmussen said. “I like my horses, love how they’re doing, feel that they’re going to run real good Saturday, but have no control over everybody else.”

Trainer Graham Motion, jockey John Velazquez, and Barry Irwin, who heads the Team Valor ownership group, shared last year’s win with Animal Kingdom. They return with 20-1 shot Went the Day Well, trying to become the first connections to repeat since 1972-73 when Riva Ridge and Secretariat prevailed.

Then there’s the weather.

Saturday’s forecast calls for a high of 86 with a 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. The Derby day temperature has topped 80 degrees just five times since 1969, when it hit 87.

Making it feel subtropical is the humidity, which was close to 70 percent on Friday. The heat combined with humidity affects horses in different ways. Some sweat profusely; others handle the elements. All Derby horses will be examined by vets on race morning.

“The hot weather may be to our advantage,” said Mark Casse, who saddles 30-1 shot Prospective. “There are some hot-headed horses in this field that it could hurt. My horse stays calm and cool.”

Post time is 6:24 p.m. EDT.

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