Derby Sleeper and who’s moving up my board


April 30th 2018

It’s a hectic time right now for a Derby writer less than 5 days away from the Kentucky Derby, so this blog will be short.

But here is a link to my US Racing article on my Derby sleeper in this year’s Kentucky Derby:

As far as who is moving up my board of Derby Kentucky Derby contenders? I will enlighten you.

Last year the Kentucky Derby was won by a Todd Pletcher-trained horse that jockey John Velazquez rode to victory in the Florida Derby in Always Dreaming. The same trainer-jockey combination won this year’s Florida Derby with Audible.

With Johnny V’s choice of mounts in this year’s Kentucky Derby, who did he choose? The same mount that he won with in the 2018 Wood Memorial — Vino Rosso. He explains his decision to ride the son of Curlin in the video below.

As a Derby handicapper, you have to take note of this. Audible is a great horse and history is on his side. The past two Kentucky Derby winners (Always Dreaming and Nyquist) were Florida Derby winners. And three out of the past five Kentucky Derby winners were Florida Derby winners.

I am currently working on my 2018 Kentucky Derby preview which I will will publish in the next 24-48 hours. Stay tuned!



7 Days before the Kentucky Derby


April 28th 2018 – Updated April 30th 2018

The anticipation is growing. We are officially seven days away from the 2018 Kentucky Derby. I feel that this year’s Derby is going to be one of the most exciting we have witnessed in a long while. I generally feel that there are 5 or 6 horses that can win this year and the dreaded Curse of Apollo is in huge danger.

Here are the six that I think can win:

Magnum Moon
Bolt d’Oro
My Boy Jack

All of these contenders have the necessary closing speeds. As I noted in my last US Racing article which can be accessed by clicking HERE, my Kentucky Derby favorite must have a final 3 furlong time in their last 9 furlong Derby prep under 38 seconds with a few exceptions. Here is why. Below are the estimated final 3-furlong times in the last Derby prep race for the last six Kentucky Derby winners:

2017-Always Dreaming (36.56 in Florida Derby)
2016-Nyquist (37.64 in Florida Derby)
2015-American Pharoah (37.82 in Arkansas Derby)
2014-California Chrome (36.69 in Santa Anita Derby)
2013-Orb (37.74 in Florida Derby)
2012-I’ll Have Another (36.42 in Santa Anita Derby)

All of my contenders this year have eclipsed this 38 second mark:

Magnum Moon – 36.47 in Arkansas Derby (1st)
Justify – 36.87 in Santa Anita Derby (1st)
My Boy Jack  – 37.21 in Louisiana Derby (3rd)
Mendelssohn – 37.34* in UAE Derby (1st)
Bolt d’Oro – 37.35 in Santa Anita Derby (2nd)
Audible – 37.48 in Florida Derby (1st)

Magnum Moon and Justify will be vying to break the Curse of Apollo by winning the Kentucky Derby having never raced as a 2-year-old. Both are fast and undefeated in 3 starts. Will their inexperience come back to haunt them on Derby Day?

My Boy Jack is a deep closer who has a fighter’s chance in this one due to the early speed. See my latest US Racing article for why I feel he is a Derby Sleeper:

Mendelssohn is a great unknown. I am always skeptical about “shippers-in” from overseas. However, Mendelssohn won by a tractor-trailer length in the UAE Derby–18 1/2 lengths. That was back in late March. You can question his competition but he produced a track record for that event. And what if he had been pressured at the wire?

The Florida Derby has produced the last two Kentucky Derby winners and three out of the last five. So, you have to consider Todd Pletcher’s 2018 Florida Derby winner Audible.

I have always loved Bolt d’Oro and his pedigree. I generally feel that he has yet to produce his best race. He’s the FrontRunner Stakes winner from last year as a 2-year-old. Two out of the last three FrontRunner Stakes winners (American Pharoah and Nyquist) went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

With the news that John Velazquez has chosen Vino Rosso as his mount in the Derby over Audible, add another serious contender.

So the above are all reasons why I feel that this year’s Derby is wide-open and will be one of the best in recent memory.



Why the Kentucky Derby is arguably the top horse race in the entire world


April 26th 2018

They call the Kentucky Derby “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” Whoever first said this was spot-on.

Below is a video for last year’s Kentucky Derby through the eyes of West Point Thoroughbreds CEO Terry Finley who had a minority ownership in last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming.

I interviewed Terry Finley after the last year’s Florida Derby for a Derby profile on Always Dreaming for US Racing which can be accessed here:

The above profile was one of the top viewed articles on US Racing last year during Derby month.

I could say “little did I know at that time that Always Dreaming would go on to win the Kentucky Derby.” But I volunteered to write that US Racing Derby profile after that Florida Derby performance because I thought he would win. I always hedge just in case you get an unpredictable performance.

The Good News, as my readers can attest, I have been real high of late on a Derby sleeper in “My Boy Jack.” Remember, I liked Lookin’ At Lee as a Derby sleeper last year in my pre-Derby article titled: “Is there a Mine That Bird in the 2017 Kentucky Derby field?”

Lookin’ At Lee finished 2nd in last year’s Kentucky Derby at 33-1 odds.

Well, guess who bought minority ownership in My Boy Jack over last weekend? Terry Finley and I will be interviewing him tomorrow for my Derby profile on My Boy Jack.

Early Derby odds for My Boy Jack have ranged from 30-1 to 18-1.

Stay tuned!

If you read my latest US Racing article “Who’s your Daisy in the 2018 Kentucky Derby?” See:

You will know that this year’s Kentucky Derby should be one of the most exciting!


Who’s your “Daisy” in the 2018 Kentucky Derby?


April 24th 2018

If you really want to know why I think this year’s Kentucky Derby is going to be one of the most exciting we have witnessed in a long while, I tell all in my latest article for US Racing. The link is provided below.

My Great Uncle Joe is mentioned in the above US Racing article. For those who are interested, here is a link to the The New Yorker magazine article where my Great Uncle and my Abruzzi Italians descendants are chronicled by distant cousin Richard Severo “FORTE E GENTILE” (Italian for Strong and Kind) The Annals of Immigration. A highly entertaining read.

Also for US Racing, I am also working on a profile for my Derby sleeper “My Boy Jack” which should be out next week. I think this article may be better the last. Stay tuned!


Why I like My Boy Jack as a Derby Sleeper


April 23rd 2018

A prelude to why I volunteered to write a Derby Profile for “My Boy Jack” for US Racing whom I feel is a Derby Sleeper. I will provide the link for this profile once published. First, I like horses who have Secretariat on at least one side in their blood line and he has it on both sides (paternal and maternal). I mentioned in a previous article last year that this Secretariat in the bloodline was an interesting new trend for Derby winners.

Secondly, I like my Derby hopefuls to have a final 3 Furlong time under 38 seconds in their last major Derby 9 furlong prep. In the Louisiana Derby, his 2nd to last Derby prep, I calculate a final 3 furlong time of 37.21. Third fastest in this class but he will get an additional furlong in the Kentucky Derby to knock off tired horses.

Thirdly, My Boy Jack is a closer, most horse racing fans favorite running style because they lag around at the back of the pack early on and then move up the field and start plucking off the competition. If you followed me last year, I sang a similar tune about Lookin At Lee in a US Racing article  “Is there a Mine That Bird in the 2017 Kentucky Field? CLICK HERE. Lookin At Lee finished 2nd in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

My Boy Jack is the best closer in this class and he will have plenty of early speed which will work to his advantage. Although he may not win, he has to be in all of your superfectas and exotic bets.



2018 Kentucky Derby Sleeper: My Boy Jack


April 21st 2018

The next US Racing article I will be working on is a Kentucky Derby Profile on the Desormeaux Brothers’ colt “My Boy Jack.” He’s my Derby sleeper and I like the name. I had a Uncle Jack who I loved and my good friend Steve has a grandson named Jack, an unusual name for a toddler this age, cutest boy ever. Always smiling.


There’s a Bad, Bad Moon Rising


April 19th 2018

I finished the 1st draft for my article for US Racing on the 2018 Kentucky Derby. I will provide a link to the article once published. (Update: SEE) Last year I had the top viewed article on that site during Derby month. I thank my loyal readers for helping put me me over the top last year. I make negative $99 from this blog every year but have made a little money and bonuses for article submissions on US Racing.

I don’t care about “The Money” as I am doing fine. But if things change, I think I would be most valuable as a pedigree analyst when it comes to bidding on yearlings and 2-year-olds where I see hundreds of thousands of dollars are throw away each year. Sometimes millions. Stupid money squandered away frivolously.

But back to the main point, I want to stress that this year’s Kentucky Derby will be one that you won’t want to miss. There’s a Bad, Bad Moon Rising. And the 136 year-old “Curse of Apollo” is in serious danger of coming to an end. I’d bet it ends. I didn’t get into why on that article submission but I will on this blog. Build your first Saturday in May around the 2018 Kentucky Derby as a fair warning.


Who’s your 2018 Kentucky Derby winner?


April 16th 2018

Stay tuned race fans. I’m preparing an article for US Racing on this topic. Last year I won the most viewed article on US Racing during Derby month and received an extra bonus. I hope to repeat the feat this year. I will just say that I haven’t had as much fun writing my upcoming an article as I have had in years. I will provide a link on this blog. But until then, is there are Bad Moon rising like there was for the Arkansas Derby with Magnum Moon?

–Michael Cox

The 2018 Arkansas Derby – Magnum Moon


April 10th 2018 – Updated April 14th 2018 6:26 PM CST

The last of the major Derby preps are coming up this Saturday at Oaklawn Park. I totally love the Arkansas Derby and Oaklawn Park but won’t be able to preview it accurately as I will be in Las Vegas on vacation until Saturday afternoon.

Overall, from anticipated entries, this is Todd Pletcher’s trainee Magnum Moon‘s race. I don’t feel at this point that this Derby prep that any colt that can beat Justify, Mendelssohn or Bolt d’Oro. I don’t even think that Magnum Moon, who I would make this Arkansas Derby’s favorite, is even Todd Pletcher’s best Derby hopeful at this point. That honor goes to Audible–the Florida Derby winner.

But we will see. I reserved judgement, for the most part, until all Derby preps are run. But barring some unexpected result, your top four Derby hopefuls at this point are: Justify, Mendelssohn, Bolt d’Oro and Audible. I do love Magnum Moon’s pedigree so perhaps I may move him up my rankings with a great performance.

Below are the entries, post-positions, weights, jockey assignments and morning line odds:

The Arkansas Derby  – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #11 at Oaklawn Park – Post-Time: 6:18 PM CST. Televised by TVG

Post/Horse/Weight/Jockey/Trainer/ Odds
1. Beautiful Shot (122) – Eramia/Desormeaux – 30/1
2. Machismo (118) – Spieth/Quartarolo – 20/1
3. Ten Fold (118) – Espinoza/Asmussen – 4/1
4. Dream Baby Dream (118) –  Contreras/Asmussen – 15/1
5. Solomini (118) – Prat/Baffert – 2/1
6. Magnum Moon (122) – Saez/Pletcher – 8/5
7. Plainsman (118) – McMahon/Van Meter – 30/1
8. Quip (122) – Geroux/Brisset – 9/2
9. Combatant (115) – Santana Jr/Asmussen – 6/1

Update: No scratches to report.  I liked straight Win bets on Magnum Moon but not at 1/2 or 3/5 live odds. A Place bet on Solomini might pay out as much, if not more, than a win bet on Magnum Moon. If this race has taught me anything the last five years, sometimes there are surprise performances. Although I think Magnum Moon will win, I am laying low and making a $2 Place bet on Plainsman at 99-1. And a $2 Exacta keying Magnum Moon over Solomini, Plainsman and Quip. That is 6 over 5,7,8.  So $8 total bet.

On the Docket…

I am planning a big article for US Racing. Last year, one of my articles  was the top viewed article on that site during Derby month. I hope to duplicate that accomplishment this year and I think you will enjoy it. 


2018 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #4


April 8th 2018 – Updated 4:45 PM CST

Ok, I crunched some numbers and I have recommendations for the Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #4 which can be accessed HERE .

Overall, I feel that it is important for a Kentucky Derby winner to have run the final 3 furlongs in their Derby prep in a time 38.0 seconds or faster. Below are the times I calculated for the key prep races:

Justify                     36.87 in the Santa Anita Derby
Mendelssohn        37.34 (estimated) from the UAE Derby
Bolt d’Oro             37.35 in the Santa Anita Derby
Audible                  37.48 in the Florida Derby
Vino Rosso            37.63 in the Wood Memorial
Hofburg                 37.88 in the Florida Derby
Good Magic          38.21 in the Blue Grass Stakes
Lone Sailer            38.21 in the Louisiana Derby
Enticed                   38.27 in the Wood Memorial
Noble Indy            38.49 in the Louisiana Derby
Runaway Ghost    38.53 in the Sunland Derby

I had to estimate Mendelssohn’s time from his last 700 meter stretch in the UAE Derby from Trackus. His speed between the 1200 meter to 1600 meter mark was faster (36.61 mph) than his final 300 meter speed (35.55 mph). He won by such a large margin (18 1/2 lengths) that he was able to coast home. So I think his estimated time above is real close to Justify’s time.

We still have the Arkansas Derby coming up next weekend but I doubt we will see any performance that will be better than what Justify, Mendelssohn and Bolt d’Oro accomplished in their last prep.

So I would recommend Boxed Exactas using Bolt d’Oro, Justify and Mendelssohn. That is 2, 12 and 15 in this pool. Right now Justify is sitting at 3/1 and the live favorite in this pool. Mendelssohn is the second favorite at 5/1 odds. Audible is at 7/1 and Bolt d’Oro is at 10/1

For straight win bets, if you are going to play them in this pool and not wait until Derby day to see post-positions and scratches, what you could do is take $60 and bet $30 of it on Justify, $20 on Mendelssohn and $10 on Bolt d’Oro, At the current live odds listed above, if one of these three horses win, you will get paid back somewhere between $110 to $120. This is a Return on Investment of 83.3% to 100%.

If Justify’s odds dip down to 2/1, then it would pay back $90 if he is the Derby winner. So this 3 horse win bet play would net you a 50% Return on Investment at the minimum.

As far as Beyer Speed Figures, the top two in this Derby class are Justify with the 107 preliminary Beyer he earned yesterday in the Santa Anita Derby and Mendelssohn’s 106 in the UAE Derby.

Last Update: No real changes in the odds noted above. I really think that the 2018 Kentucky Derby winner will be one of three horses: Justify, Mendelssohn or Bolt d’Oro

As a side note, I am planning a big article for US Racing. Last year, one of my articles  was the top viewed article on that site during Derby month. I hope to duplicate that accomplishment this year and I think you will enjoy it.