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:
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: https://www.usracing.com/news/kentucky-derby-road-to-the-roses/youre-looking-kentucky-derby-sleeper-horse
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.