April 6th 2018 – Updated April 7th @ 5:18 PM CST
Tomorrow is a huge day in the sport of horse racing with the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass Stakes and the San Anita Derby all scheduled on the same day. A minimum of six horses will punch their ticket into the Kentucky Derby field with a first or second place finish. Due to time constraints, I am not able to preview all three races so I chose to preview the Santa Anita Derby as I think this race will be the best of the three. Most importantly, I think the Santa Anita Derby is the one most likely to produce the eventual Kentucky Derby winner.
Overall, I am keeping an open mind but I think the 2018 Kentucky Derby winner will be one of these four colts: Bolt d’Oro, Audible, Justify and Good Magic. And probably in that order. I really liked the prospects of the Bob Baffert-trained McKinzie but it was announced on Wednesday that McKinzie suffered a hind-leg injury last week and will miss the Kentucky Derby and probably the Preakness Stakes as well.
The Todd Pletcher trainee Audible had an impressive win in the Florida Derby last weekend. The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic is still on my radar but he needs to bounce back from a disappointing third place finish in the the Fountain of Youth Stakes. He’ll get a chance for redemption in the Blue Grass Stakes.
As for Bolt d’Oro and Bob Baffert’s other Derby hopeful Justify, they will lock horns tomorrow in the Santa Anita Derby. NBC Sports Network will air live coverage. Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds.
The Santa Anita Derby – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #9 at Santa Anita Park – Post-Time: 6:12PM CST. Televised by NBC Sports Network and TVG.
Post/Horse/Jockey/Weight/Trainer/Morning Line Odds
1. Instilled Regard (124) – Rosario/Hollendorfer – 5/1
2. Orbit Ridge (124) – Blanc/Ruis – 50/1
3. Bolt d’Oro (124) – Castellano/Ruis – 6/5
4. Jimmy Chila (124) – Gutierez/O’Neill – 30/1
5. Pepe Tono (124) – Espinoza/Garcia – 20/1
6. Justify (124) – Smith/Baffert – 4/5
7. Core Beliefs (124) – Baze/Eurton – 20/1
My Pick: I am up in the air on this one but it’s going to come down to Bolt d’Oro or Justify for the win. So my play will likely be a 3-6 Boxed Exacta with these two horses if it is a dry race. Justify is the morning line race favorite at 4/5 odds. I am fine with that as I feel that Justify should be the race favorite. There is no doubt that Justify is fast. In the only two starts of his career, he produced in triple digit Beyer Speed Figures (104 and 101). Justify may win the Santa Anita Derby but still finish behind Bolt d’Oro in the Kentucky Derby. Working against Justify’s Run for the Roses chances, Justify never raced as a 2 year-old. The only Kentucky Derby winner to have never raced as a 2 year old was Apollo in 1882.
If you are looking to play a Trifecta, I’d add Instilled Regard. But note that with a seven horse field (or less if there are any scratches), exotics won’t pay back very well unless there is absolute chaos and a huge upset. I don’t see that happening here. You are better off playing big Win or Exacta bets on Justify or Bolt d’Oro. I bet $250 on Audible to win last week in the Florida Derby and that bet paid back $650 ($400 net profit). If this year’s Santa Anita Derby is wet, I would probably recommend straight win bets on Justify since he excelled on a sloppy, sealed track at Santa Anita in his last start.
UPDATE: No scratches to report yet in the Santa Anita Derby. In the Wood Memorial, I liked Enticed for the win. I feel that the stewards should have placed Vino Rosso second due to the bump on Enticed. But I knew that Aqueduct wouldn’t reverse the call on track favorite Todd Pletcher. He’s too valuable to East Coast racing.
In the Blue Grass Stakes, Quip was scratched. I am glad that I didn’t preview this race as it seems to wide open for my comfort level. But a nice bounce back win for Good Magic. I am not overly impressed with his the final winning time over 1:50 though.
My next blog topic will be the last Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #4 that is going on currently and will end this Sunday at 5PM CST (6PM EST). You can see the current live odds by clicking HERE . I recommend waiting until the completion of all three of tomorrow’s Derby preps before making any wagers in this pool. I will be monitoring the live odds clear up until the final hour and will give my recommendations.