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There will be a $1 million bonus at the Kentucky Derby if the first-place horse wins by more than 6 1/2 lengths - the margin of Barbaro's victory last year.

The bonus would be divided Saturday among the winning trainer, jockey, owner and a charity, with each receiving 25 percent, it was announced Monday. The designated charity is the Barbaro Memorial Fund.

''It's certainly creative, it's certainly fun and it has something for the horsemen, which we always want to embrace,'' Churchill Downs president and chief executive Robert Evans said at a news conference. ''What's really cool is it will force us to remember Barbaro.''

Curlin goes against odds

Kentucky Derby purists cling to these truths: A horse can't win if he didn't run as a 2-year-old or if he comes into the race with three or fewer career starts.

It's been 125 years since Apollo won after skipping his 2-year-old season, and not since Regret in 1915 has such a lightly seasoned horse worn the blanket of red roses.

Arkansas Derby winner Curlin - unbeaten in three career races - tries to overcome both those obstacles in Saturday's 133rd Derby.

''We're not running against history,'' trainer Steve Asmussen said Monday. ''We're running against who they load up.''

Six other horses have run in the Derby without benefit of 2-year-old races and with three or fewer starts. The best any of them managed was a sixth-place finish by Showing Up last year.

Asmussen dismissed suggestions that Curlin's lack of racing experience could keep him from the winner's circle.

''He exudes confidence and he's got a great presence about him,'' the trainer said. ''I feel great about the position we're in. He's not worried about anything, why should you be?''

Kentucky Derby

Post SATURDAY, 4:04 p.m., Ch. 5