Patch, the One-Eyed Horse, is a Kentucky Derby Favorite

Some call it the fastest two minutes in sport. Others refer to it as The Run for the Roses. We all know it as the Kentucky Derby, and the 143rd running of it takes place today at 6:34 p.m. ET.

One contender is garnering a lot of media coverage for a unique characteristic: he’s missing one eye. Patch, the 3-year-old thoroughbred, lost his left eye due to an ulcer that never healed. Strangely enough, he had been named Patch long before losing his eye.

patch

One-eyed racehorses are apparently not uncommon, as a horse’s vision is drastically different from that of humans. Here’s an explanation:

Because of how a horse’s vision works, losing an eye likewise doesn’t have to end their athletic careers. We humans have small, round pupils that allow us to see very well front and center. But we don’t have very good peripheral vision. Horses, by contrast, have the largest eyes of any land mammals, and their long, horizontal pupils allow them to get an enormous view from side to side, said Janet L. Jones, a cognitive scientist who trains horses and has written about how horses see the world.

Additionally, while human eyes move in tandem and give us a view of 140 or 150 degrees, horses can move their eyes separately for a view of about 350 degrees.

Patch has seen his odds of winning the Kentucky Derby increase over the past few days, rising from 30-1 on Wednesday to 15-1 as of this writing. He’ll be starting from the 20th post position, and may have an advantage in that he will literally not be able to see his competition out of the gate.

BTW, he even has his own Twitter account!