Previewing The 2018 Kentucky Derby
The Derby is one of, if not my favorite event of the year! Let’s take a look at each contender, and try to figure out the best way to make money this Saturday during the “greatest two minutes in sports”.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
1-Firenze Fire 50-1: Not many positives here, as his best races have been sprints, and his last Grade 1 win was last October. I’ll pass.
2-Free Drop Billy 30-1: Another horse who seemed like a contender as a 2 year old, but has regressed in his 3 year old season. Hasn’t been very competitive against the best of this bunch, though he was placed third through disqualification in the Blue Grass Stakes.
3-Promises Fulfilled 30-1: He’ll be on or near the lead for sure, it’s just a matter of how long he can stretch his speed. He faded badly in the Florida Derby, finishing ninth after setting fast fractions. I don’t see it on Saturday, though his Sire, Shackelford ran second in the Derby and won the Preakness during his three year old season.
4-Flameaway 30-1: Solid, hard knocker who has finished in the money in 7 of his 9 career starts. He doesn’t seem to match with these however, as he finished 8th in his only Grade 1 effort last year. He’ll be close to the front early as well.
5-Audible 8-1: Major contender from 2 time Derby winning trainer Todd Pletcher, this son of Into Mischief hasn’t done much wrong in his career, winning 4 of 5 starts including a very impressive win in the Florida Derby. Absolutely a top contender not to be left off your tickets.
6-Good Magic 12-1: Last year’s two year old champion isn’t getting as much respect in the odds as I thought he would. Great value at 12-1 considering he’s a Grade 1 winner and just won the Bluegrass last time out. This son of 2 time horse of the year Curlin is a top contender despite the odds. Don’t ignore.
7-Justify 3-1: Deserving favorite is 3-3 for 5 time Derby winning trainer Bob Baffert. All three of the wins have resulted in Triple Digit Beyer speed figures, and there’s only two other horses that have one Triple Digit figure. The only negative is experience, as no horse unraced at 2 has won the Derby since 1892.
8-Lone Sailor 50-1: His best runs come from off the pace, and there’s likely to be a ton of speed in this race, so it’s safe to say that I’ve seen worse 50-1 shots in past Derbies. He’ll be flying late, so might be worth a few bucks at the bottom of your exotics.
9-Hofburg 20-1: This improving son of Tapit ran a nice second to Audible in the Florida Derby and has every right to improve here. Another who was unraced as a two year old, so experience could be a detriment. He’s out of Tapit and a Touch Gold mare so distance will not be a problem. Ignore at your own risk!
10-My Boy Jack 30-1: The Desormeaux brothers are back again with the winner of the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland a few weeks ago. He’s a very good closer, and that will help with all the speed in this race, but he’s never run well against this type of company, as his only wins have come in lower graded races. Possible horse at the bottom of your exotics but i don’t see him winning.
11-Bolt D’Oro: 8-1: The “other horse” in Southern California would probably be the favorite if not for Justify. All “Bolt” has done is earn over a million dollars and win 4 of 6 starts, yet he’s virtually being ignored by everyone. He’s also ran three triple digit Beyer Speed Figures, and if you like Justify, you almost have to like Bolt D’Oro too. At 8-1 he’s a must play somewhere on your ticket.
12-Enticed 30-1: A longshot that I like a little in here. He has a pattern of running well every other race, and this would be the good one in the sequence. He ran a decent second to Vino Rosso in the Wood, and I feel like he’s sitting on a good one on Saturday. He’ll be somewhere on my ticket.
13-Bravazo 50-1: I can’t see this one getting a good look by most bettors, but i’d never talk anyone off of a Lukas horse on the first Saturday in May. He hasn’t done anything in his career that suggests he can win the Kentucky Derby, in fact, he ran 8th in his last start, and that was the best field he’s ever faced.
14-Mendelssohn 5-1: The “mystery” horse who won the UAE Derby in Dubai looked awesome in that win, but the question as always with the UAE winner is, Who did he beat? These horses have never had any success in the Derby, but this one does feel a little different as he’s proven he can win on a dirt surface and has won a race in the states already. I may leave him off my ticket and live to regret it.
15-Instilled Regard 50-1: This guy has had the “pleasure’ of chasing Bolt D’Oro and Justify around California all Winter and Spring and certainly didn’t embarrass himself. He’s a few notches below the best in here, but as I’ve said about a few other horses in here, i’ve seen worse 50-1 longshots.
16-Magnum Moon 6-1: He’s 4-4, he’s a Grade 1 winner, and he’s trained by Todd Pletcher. So, why can you get $14 for your $2 win bet? Good question! His last race wasn’t as visually impressive as Justify or Audible’s last wins, but still, 4 for 4 is 4 for 4. One negative to me is that he usually wants the lead, and there’s a ton of speed in here. Might work against him.
17- Solomini 30-1: Bob Baffert’s “Triple A” entrant has been in the money in all 6 starts, including two Grade 1 wins (he was placed third by disquliafication in one), so 30-1 is GREAT value. Baffert has a long history of having his less prominent runner running huge in the Derby when it’s not expected. In 1998, Real Quiet won the race for Baffert while his other horse, Indian Charlie was the favorite. Don’t ignore.
18-Vino Rosso 12-1: The winner of the Wood Memorial is an improving colt, also trained by Todd Pletcher. The thing that stands out to me with him is that Pletcher’s longtime #1 jockey, John Velazquez has chosen to ride Vino Rosso over Pletcher’s other Derby contenders, though to be fair, he’s been on Vino Rosso in all 5 of his career starts, so it might just be a comfort thing. Something to keep in mind for sure.
19-Noble Indy 30-1: The Louisiana Derby winner continues trainer Todd Pletcher’s embarrassment of riches, but this one is clearly a notch below is other contenders. He’s won 3 of his 4 starts, including the aforementioned Louisiana Derby, but hasn’t ever run in Grade 1 company, so this would be a pretty drastic improvement to win this race.
20-Combatant 50-1: Here’s one that I can honestly say that if he wins the Kentucky Derby, I won’t be cashing a ticket. His only career win was in a maiden race last October. The win was at Churchill, so that’s good I guess. Not many other positives to me.
Here’s the way I’m going to play the Derby
$50 to win and place on #9 Hofburg
$20 Exacta Box:
I’ll probably play a few small trifecta boxes and add in the folllowing:
Seth, a die hard fan of Orioles Baseball and Tar Heel Basketball has been in the gambling industry for 20 plus years. He's been trying to find the secret to picking winners even longer than that. Seth lives in Eldersburg Maryland with his wife and two children.