Can the color of a horse determine how fast it can run? I know, that sounds silly, but it's a topic of conversation as we head into the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby this weekend.

It seems everyone is excited about the chances of a horse named Essential Quality that is expected to be the first gray horse to go off as a favorite in 25 years.

According to a story by the Associated Press a gray horse hasn't won the Derby since 2005 when Giacomo did it. And only eight grays have won in the last 90 years.

It's not really surprising that Dr. James MacLeod, the professor of veterinary science at the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Center says that there's no functional connection between color and speed. It seems there are just fewer gray horses than the other colors so grays win fewer races.

According to Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine professor of pathology and genetics Dr. D. Phillip Sponenberg, all you need is a couple really, really fast grays to breed. Then about half of their foals will be gray and some of them will, hopefully, be as fast or faster than their parents.

Essential Quality was sired by Tapit, a world class sire that many think is due a Kentucky Derby winner.

It seems we'll find out this Saturday how Essential Quality does, the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby is set to take place at Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky, at 5:50 p.m.

One thing is certain, the fact that Essential Quality is gray will make it easier for NBC announcer Larry Collmus to distinguish her from the other 19 horses in the field.

While listening to the announcer call the race is fun, I'd just as soon watch cutting horses or barrel racing.

Dulcey Lima via Unsplash

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