SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — About 20,000 thoroughbreds are born every year, so the odds of winning the Kentucky Derby aren’t great. But every foal comes into this world with a hint of hope.

Joe and Anne McMahon would know. In April 2000, they foaled a horse that would go on to win the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

“He was pretty much an average foal,” Joe McMahon said of Funny Cide, the third foal born that night 22 years ago at the McMahon’s barn in Saratoga Springs.

That average foal went on to make history as a racehorse, becoming the first (and only, to date) horse born in New York state to win the Run for the Roses.

“It was just the biggest thrill to see that horse,.” said Joe. “I remember saying to [trainer] Barclay [Tagg], ‘He’s going to win it Barclay! He’s going to win it!'”

Twenty more horses are set to enter the starting gates Saturday at Churchill Downs with the same dream. None are from the Empire State, but many of the ties run east.

Skidmore alum Ken Freirich, a Donegal Racing partner will wear a Skidmore hat, repping the Saratoga-based college alongside his horse Mo Donegal. The Wood Memorial winner will bear the green and yellow colors of Donegal Racing as well as the name of the school.

“There’s no doubt that this is a dream of a lifetime,” said Freirich. “I’ve always wanted to have a horse run in the Derby.”

As he makes the iconic walk from the paddock to the track, the voice of the Kentucky Derby will be in the zone.

“I don’t listen to ‘My Old Kentucky Home. I turn the volume down on the TV,” said Travis Stone, track announcer at Churchill Downs. The graduate of Schroon Lake High School will call his eighth Kentucky Derby Saturday, and says it’s still very much a thrill.

“For my profession this is the pinnacle,” said Stone. “So to get here and be part of the Derby, it’s a little surreal. But I try not to think of those things. I try to stay calm instead.”

Chad brown will try to match that demeanor. The Mechanicville native, who’s never won this race, enters Zandon, the 3-1 morning-line favorite who looks great heading in.

“The horse went out there and put in a work really as good as I’ve seen on the dirt since I’ve been training in 15 years,” said Brown. “I mean you can’t do better than that.”

Brown says his expectations are “realistic” because he knows “how difficult of a race it is.” However, ignorance is bliss for Reylu Gutierrez.

“I never thought I’d be in this position in my life, riding in the Derby’,” said the Rochester-based jockey. He’ll make his Derby debut with Barber Road, a 30-1 longshot saddled by New York trainer Johnny Ortiz, who will also try the Derby for the first time in his career.

“[Barber Road’s] got all the talent in the world to get there, it’s a matter of luck, and I think that’s for all 20 horses competing,” said Gutierrez.

Back in Saratoga, Joe McMahon agrees. “I mean, everybody has a chance. Luck is the great equalizer in this business… If you stay at it long enough, you get your share of good luck.”

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