Derby Shaping Up as a Classic with Perhaps Strongest Field Ever

Kevin Stott

Thursday, May 3, 2018 2:06 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 3, 2018 2:06 PM UTC

The first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown is Saturday with the 144th Kentucky Derby. Let’s look at all of the important information you’ll need for the race and make a plethora of picks.

Kentucky Derby: Preview, Prediction & Picks

What: 144th Kentucky Derby (Grade I)
Race Type: Thoroughbred stakes
When: Saturday
Where: Churchill Downs; Louisville, Kentucky
Inaugurated: 1875
Distance: 11⁄4 miles (10 furlongs; 2,012 meters)
Surface: Dirt
Track: Left-handed
Qualification: 3-year-olds
Weight: Colts-Geldings: 126 pounds, Fillies: 121 pounds
Field Size: 20
Race Number: 12
Race Post Time: 6:46 p.m. ET (approximately)
Purse: $2 million (1st Place: $1,425,000)
Track Record: Secretariat, 1973 (1:?592⁄5)
TV: NBC (Coverage starts at 5:30 p.m. ET)
Undercard TV: NBCSN (Coverage starts 12:30 p.m. ET)
Internet: NBCSN
Weather Forecast: Mostly cloudy, stray showers or thunderstorms possible; high around 75°, winds north 5-10 mph, 60% humidity. More info: Louisville Doppler Radar
Track Conditions: Churchill Downs Current Track Conditions
Kentucky Derby Supplemental Entry Fee: $200,000
Kentucky Oaks: Friday, 5 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
Qualifying Points: Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks Qualifying Points Lists

Kentucky Derby Field

Post position, horse (morning-line odds), jockey:
1. Firenze Fire (50/1) Paco Lopez
2. Free Drop Billy (30/1) Robby Albarado
3. Promises Fulfilled (30/1) Corey Lanerie
4. Flameaway (30/1) Jose Lezcano
5. Audible (8/1) Javier Castellano
6. Good Magic (12/1) José Ortiz
7. Justify (3/1) Mike Smith
8. Lone Sailor (50/1) James Graham
9. Hofburg (20/1) Irad Ortiz Jr.
10. My Boy Jack (30/1) Kent Desormeaux
11. Bolt d’Oro (8/1) Victor Espinoza
12. Enticed (30/1) Junior Alvarado
13. Bravazo (50/1) Luis Contreras
14. Mendelssohn (5/1) Ryan Moore
15. Instilled Regard (50/1) Drayden Van Dyke
16. Magnum Moon (6/1) Luis Saez
17. Solomini (30/1) Flavien Prat
18. Vino Rosso (12/1) John Velazquez
19. Noble Indy (30/) Florent Geroux
20. Combatant (50/1) Ricardo Santana Jr.
AE: Blended Citizen (50/1) Kyle Frey

Backing Mendelssohn Could Have Value

Even if there are thunderstorms and mud and slop at Churchill Downs on Saturday, expect the late speed to end up ruling the day with race favorite Justify (107, 104, 101 Beyer Speed Numbers), UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn (106), Bolt d'Oro (102, 101), Audible (99, 99) and Magnum Moon (98, 97, 97) probably battling it out for the Win-Place-Show honors, with Mendelssohn (5/1) and Magnum Moon (6/1) having a little bit of perceived value at those odds that will change once parimutuel betting for the Run For The Roses begins Saturday. Expect a massive handle, with horse racing having an impressive surge in betting and popularity in 2018. Besides his studs -- Florida Derby winner Audible and Arkansas Derby winner Magnum Moon -- trainer (and 2017 winner) Todd Pletcher also has Vino Rosso (12/1 to win Kentucky Derby, Bovada) and Noble Indy (30/1) in this field. There are also a couple of decent longshots who might have gotten lost in the luster of such a deep and talented group that includes two undefeated horses (Justify 3-0-0 and Magnum Moon 4-0-0) putting their precious zeroes on the line.

For me, the UAE Derby curse might be blown away on Saturday, with Mendelssohn exhibiting the almost unreal closing speed and burst he showed in Dubai to capture the first leg of the Triple Crown, beating out a hard-charging Magnum Moon, chalk Justify and maybe Audible, Bolt d’Oro, Vino Rosso, Good Magic clump o’ equine fighting for the fourth through seventh places. Don’t sleep on Good Magic; he has been buried in a sea of talent. So, the color purple prevails and the No. 14 looks like the number this weekend, with Kentucky Oaks favorite and almost unbeaten filly Monomoy Girl (5/2 to win Kentucky Oaks, Bovada) also wearing the No. 14 saddlecloth on her muscular back on Friday in the prestigious meet that sort of kicks off the real 2018 horse racing season.

In our horse racing picks, a $10 Win bet on Mendelssohn, a $5 Win bet on Magnum Moon, a $2 Win bet on Vino Rosso and a $1 Win bet on Flameaway will all be part of the plan along with some exotics including the chalky exactas, trifectas and superfectas below. With Justify needing to overcome the dreaded (not really) “Curse of Apollo” that dates to 1888 and having run an overrated Santa Anita Derby, he seems a bit overpriced in a race where there could be six or seven different favorites depending on how things fell. Fading but not forgetting Justify seems a solid strategy as it’s really hard to imagine the favorite winning the Kentucky Derby for a sixth straight year.

Free Picks

Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby Double Pick: 14-14 (Monomoy Girl-Mendelssohn)
Kentucky Derby Winner: 14 (Mendelssohn)
Kentucky Derby Exacta: 14-16 (Mendelssohn-Magnum Moon)
Kentucky Derby Trifecta: 14-16-7 (Mendelssohn-Magnum Moon-Justify)
Kentucky Derby Superfectas: 14-16-7-8 and 14-16-7-6 (Mendelssohn-Magnum Moon-Justify-Audible and Mendelssohn-Magnum Moon-Justify-Good Magic)
Kentucky Derby Pentafecta: 14-16-7-8-11 (Mendelssohn-Magnum Moon-Justify-Audible-Bolt d’Oro)
Kentucky Derby Semi-Longshot: Vino Rosso 12/1 (Bovada)
Kentucky Derby Monster Longshots: My Boy Jack 30/1, Flameaway 45/1 (Bovada)
comment here