Kentucky Derby: Justify and Magnum Moon Get Chalky

The 2018 Kentucky Derby is one week away. That’s not a very long time when you’re talking about the most popular horse race in North America. The Derby might be the most popular horse race in the world. Winning the Derby adds instant prestige.

To be honest, the Kentucky Derby winner doesn’t always turn out to be the best 3-year-old of his or her generation, though. Two years ago, Nyquist won the Derby. The best 3-year-old that year turned out to be Arrogate. Last year, Always Dreaming won the Derby. The best 3-year-old of his generation turned out to be West Coast.

2018 Kentucky Derby Odds: Justify and Magnum Moon Get Chalky

This year, things should be different. One of the horses listed below will win the 2018 Kentucky Derby. One of the horses listed below will turn out to be the best 3-year-old of his generation. However, the horse that wins the Derby might turn out to be the best 3-year-old.

But, it’s hard to imagine some other horse, one not listed below, turning out to be the best 3-year-old this year. The 2018 Kentucky Derby appears to be that deep.

** Odds listed below are from the Wynn in Las Vegas. They’re current as of April 21.

Justify                               5/2

The Kentucky Derby chalk sure looked good winning the Santa Anita Derby on April 7. I was at Santa Anita that day. I got to see Justify run live. He’s definitely worthy of being the Derby favorite. However, there are a couple of things to consider before laying money on him.  The main thing to consider is that you’re taking short odds on a horse to be the first to win the Derby after not racing at 2 since Apollo in 1882.

Magnum Moon              5/1

He was as green as a sapling on the first day of spring in the stretch of the Arkansas Derby. Make no mistake, he’s a talented horse. Will his mind be where it should be on May 5?

Good Magic                     7/1

The 2-year-old champion won the Bluegrass Stakes by simply running his race. He faces much tougher on the First Saturday in May. Then again, trainer Chad Brown got him to peak at the exact right moment last year. That’s how he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Mendelssohn                  7/1

Aidan O’Brien has pretty much won every major race there is to win in Europe. He hasn’t had a ton of success taking home race trophies in the United States. Mendelssohn is the best shot O’Brien’s ever had of winning not only the Derby, but of also winning a major U.S. race since Giant’s Causeway in 2000.

Bolt d’Oro                        8/1

The winter book Derby favorite lost to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby. Could the loss be forgiven. Sure, it could! He chased a loose on the lead Justify. A loose on the lead Justify is impossible to beat.

Audible                             8/1

He used different tactics, running off the pace, to win the Florida Derby. Audible is one of 4 horses, Noble Indy, Vino Rosso, and Magnum Moon are the other three, that trainer Todd Pletcher will have in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Noble Indy                     16/1

Heads to Churchill Downs under the radar after winning the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. He’ll need to improve. Todd Pletcher can get them to improve on Derby Day.

Vino Rosso                     16/1

I love how he kept fighting even though he got into a tussle with Enticed in the Wood Memorial. The difference between this one and Enticed is that Vino Rosso could get better while Enticed appears set to regress.

Enticed                            20/1

That was a tough race in the Wood Memorial. Enticed could return guns blazing on the First Saturday in May. Not sure that happens. At the odds, he’s probably not worth a bet. Expect closer to 25 to 1 before pulling the trigger.

My Boy Jack                  20/1

He’s a closer in a field that shouldn’t lack speed. However, pressers and front-runners have run well in the Derby since probably 2013 when straight closer Orb took home the Run for the Roses.

Quip                                 20/1

He’d have to improve big time to have any shot of winning the Kentucky Derby. He’s a tough horse. Things just don’t set up for him to upset the favorites, though.

Flameaway                    25/1

I believe his second place finish to Good Magic in the Bluegrass Stakes was much better than it looked. Lest we forget, he’s trained by the great Mark Casse. That means he could peak on Derby Day.

Free Drop Billy            25/1

He appears one-paced. I’m not sure he can do anything differently on May 5 to change the fact that he’s just not as good as the favorites.

Solomini                        25/1

The Bob Baffert trained Solomini looked like a tired horse. I probably wouldn’t even run in him the Kentucky Derby after watching how he struggled home in the Arkansas Derby. That wasn’t a deep field and he had to work hard to get a Top 3 placing.

Hofburg                         35/1

Hofburg is bred well. He’s lightly raced, though. What it means is that he might not have the bottom to run 1 1/4 miles so soon in his racing career. I think he’s a pass.

Gronkowski                  45/1

He should probably be around 60 to 1 to win the Kentucky Derby. He hasn’t yet won a graded race. That’s right, he got an invitation for winning a stakes race in the UK, not because he did anything in the U.S. I’m not exactly sure why he picked up a spot to run in the Derby. Definite throw out from my point-of-view.

Lone Sailor                   45/1

He appears to be a cut below many of these. Although some horse racing fans feel he’s got a puncher’s chance, I’m not one of those fans. I don’t see Lone Sailor doing enough for a Top 4 finish.

Bravazo                          50/1

The odds say that Bravazo is a throw out. I agree. He peaked in the Risen Star Stakes, a race where he got away with easy fractions. He most definitely won’t get away with easy fractions on Derby Day.

Derby Runner Offering Fairest Odds:  Magnum Moon

The Todd Pletcher trainee was so green that some horseplayers have already written him off to win on May 5. I don’t think so. He was green in the Arkansas Derby because he was trying hard. At 5/1 odds he’s actually a better play thatn Justify at 5/2.

Derby Runners Offering Overlay Odds:  Mendelssohn, Bolt d’Oro, Audible

Mendelssohn, Bolt d’Oro, and Audible are all offering overlay odds at 7/1, 7/1, and 8/1 respectively. Mendelssohn was as impressive as any Derby prep winner this year when trouncing his competition in the UAE Derby. Bolt d’Oro was awesome in defeat versus Justify while Audible appears to have plenty of upside.

Derby Runner Offering Underlay Odds:  Good Magic

Sure, Chad Brown could get Good Magic to peak on Derby Day. Brown might be the best trainer in the United States. But, the Kentucky Derby is different than the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.  To win the Derby, everything must go right. At the odds, Good Magic won’t garner any of my Kentucky Derby future book money.

Derby Longshots With a Chance:  Vino Rosso, Noble Indy, Flameaway, My Boy Jack

Vino Rosso, Noble Indy, Flameaway and My Boy Jack all have a shot to upset and win the Kentucky Derby should none of the favorites show up. Vino Rosso is probably the horse to back. He’s got every right to improve off a terrific Wood Memorial win. Should he improve, he can win the Run for the Roses.

If I had to Bet the Kentucky Derby Today, I’d Put My Money On:

Mendelssohn…or, Audible

If I had to place a win bet today, right now, I’d take the 7/1 odds on Mendelssohn or the 8/1 odds on Audible. Mendelssohn, in particular, is an interesting horse because if he had won a prep race in the U.S. instead of in Dubai, he might be the chalk over Justify.

He and Justify have the same sire, Scat Daddy. That means Mendelssohn is bred to relish the dirt. Not only that, but Mendelssohn is a half-brother to mare champion Beholder. They’re from the same broodmare.

Audible won the Holy Bull Stakes by running on the lead. He took home the Florida Derby by closing. Audible isn’t beholden to pace. He’s perfectly happy running near the lead, or running well off the lead. That should give his jockey, Javier Castellano, plenty of options on Derby Day.

If you want to make a future bet on the 2018 Kentucky Derby winner, I’d look to Mendelssohn or Audible.

What do you think?

Written by D.S. Williamson

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