Triple Crown Watch – Justfy wins the Preakness

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May 19th 2018

Told ya! Show me proof that one National Handicapper predicted that Justify will win the Preakness Stakes before me. You won’t. I posted this blog at 12:05 AM on May 7th. https://thederbyhandicapper.com/2018/05/07/triple-crown-contender-why-justify-will-win-the-2018-preakness-stakes/

American Pharoah’s sloppy Preakness Stakes time: 1:58.46

Justify’s sloppy Preakness Stakes time: 1:55.93

I ordered these tickets on Monday May 7th after the Kentucky Derby because I liked his Triple Crown chances.

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–Michael Cox

2018 Preakness Stakes Preview

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May 16th 2018 – Updated May 19th 2018 at 12:05 PM CST

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. The race will be aired live on NBC this coming Saturday around 5:48 PM CST. Be sure to catch my latest article on US RacingTriple Crown Fever: Why Justify Could Become The 13th Triple Crown Champion.” 

2018 Preakness Stakes Starting Field

1) Quip (12/1) – The 19-1 odds winner of the Tampa Bay Derby. He followed up this effort with a 2nd place finish behind Magnum Moon in the Arkansas Derby.

Career: 5 Starts 3-1-0-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 7th->1st->2nd
Sire: Distorted Humor
Trainer: Rodolphe Brisset
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Tampa Bay Derby

2) Lone Sailor (15/1) – The Tom Amoss-trained colt is a deep closer who briefly took the lead in the Louisiana Derby only to lose by a neck to Noble Indy (shown below). Although I had questioned whether he would like distance, he finished 8th in the Kentucky Derby.

Career: 9 Starts 1-3-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>8th
Sire: Majestic Warrior 
Trainer: Tom Amoss
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

3) Sporting Chance (30/1) – In his most recent start, he finished 4th in the Pat Day Mile (shown below). He has had problems in a couple of races with lugging out down the stretch. He’s talented but quirky.

Career: 7 Starts 2-1-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 5th–>4th–>4th
Sire: Tiznow
Trainer: D.Wayne Lukas (1980,1985,1994,1995,1999, 2013 Preakness S.Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Luis Contreras
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 91 – 2018 Blue Grass Stakes

4) Diamond King (30/1) – The Federico Tesio Stakes winner (shown below). He will be ridden by two-time Preakness Stakes winning jockey Javier Castellano. However, note that he has yet to produce a 90+ Beyer Speed Figure in 6 career starts. But he did eclipse the 37 second mark in the last 3 furlongs of the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico.

Career: 6 Starts 4-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Quality Road
Trainer: John Servis (2004 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano (2006 & 2017 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 84 – 2018 Federico Tesio Stakes

5) Good Magic (3/1) – The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and the Eclipse 2-year-old Male Champion. The Blue Grass Stakes winner finished 2nd behind Justify in the Kentucky Derby.

Career: 6 Starts 2-3-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Curlin (Finished 1st in the 2007 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Chad Brown (2017 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Jose Ortiz Jr.
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

6) Tenfold (20/1) – The Steve Asmussen-trained colt finished 5th in the Arkansas Derby (shown below). He’s a bit inexperienced, having 3 career starts with his debut in February.

Career: 3 Starts 2-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>1st–>5th
Sire: Curlin (Finished 1st in the 2007 Preakness Stakes)
Trainer: Steve Asmussen (2007 & 2009 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.  
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – 2018 Arkansas Derby

7) Justify (1/2) – The 2018 Kentucky Derby winner and race favorite. Trainer Bob Baffert was a little surprised by the short morning line odds of 1/2. So was I. However, if Justify doesn’t win the Preakness Stakes, consider it a huge upset. When Bob Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby, he has always went on to winning the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015)

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts:  1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997-98, 2001-02, 2010 & 2015 Preakness Stakes Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (1993 Preakness Stakes Winner)
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2018 Santa Anita Derby

8) Bravazo (20/1) – After opening up his 3-year-old campaign with two wins, most notably the Risen Star Stakes (shown below), he had a disappointing 8th place finish in his final Derby prep at Fair Grounds in the Louisiana Derby. However, he recovered nicely and finished a surprising 6th in the Kentucky Derby.

Career: 9 Starts 3-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>8th–>6th
Sire: Awesome Again
Trainer: D.Wayne Lukas (1980,1985,1994,1995,1999, 2013 Preakness S.Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Luis Saez
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2018 Risen Star Stakes

Handicapping Advice

Justify will win this race so key him in all of your exotics.  It appears that we are going to have a wet track, so I am using Bravazo with Justify and Good Magic. I think the finishing order will be #1) Justify, #2) Good Magic with Quip and Bravazo battling it out for third. Watching races on the wet Pimlico track yesterday, it appears that favorites are doing well and horses who get out up front early do well. Drawing the rail, Quip’s owner said they are sending him early so I suspect he is a horse who we might see in the early lead.

So here is what I am doing but please note that a race with a 1/2 favorite who will likely move to 1/5 or 2/5 by post-time,  exotics won’t pay out well unless Justify gets upset.

Exacta: 7/5 (beware it won’t pay out well)
Trifecta #2: 7/1,5/1,5,8
Superfecta #1: 7/5/1,8/1,8
Superfecta #2: 7/1,5,8/1,5,8/1,5,6,8

For those who are thinking about placing win bets on Justify, below is a scale that will tell you how much you should expect to get back .

Win Bet Scale

1/9 odds – $20 pays back $22.22, $100 pays back $111.11
1/5 odds – $20 pays back $24, $100 pays back $120
2/9 odds – $20 pays back $24.44, $100 pays back $122.22
2/5 odds – $20 pays back $28, $100 pays back $140
3/9 odds – $20 pays back $26.67, $100 pays back $133.33
1/2 odds – $20 pays back $30, $100 pays back $150
4/9 odds – $20 pays back $28.89, $100 pays back $144.44
3/5 odds – $20 pays back $32, $100 pays back $160
4/5 odds – $20 pays back $36, $100 pays back $180


On the docket…

My next blog will be a preview of the Belmont Stakes.

–Michael

Triple Crown Fever – Justified

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May 15th 2018

As Yogi Berra would say, “It feels like deja vu all over again.” I just got this feeling about Justify that he may be another Bob Baffert-trained Triple Crown winner. I write about it in my latest article for US RacingTriple Crown Fever: Why Justify Could Become The 13th Triple Crown Champion.” 

My next blog will preview the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes which I should have out tomorrow evening.

–Michael

Fans of Justify – Triple Crown watch

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May 9th 2018

All fans of Justify, stay tuned. I am working on an article on the Baffert-trained colt for US Racing. I think you will like it. A secret, I have already purchased tickets for the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park, reserved a hotel room and flights to New York in June. I posted a blog article late Sunday night, early Monday morning where I am calling Justify the 2018 Preakness Stakes winner. 

And thanks to my blog readers, my article Who’s your ‘Daisy’ for the 2018 Kentucky Derby?” was the top viewed free-lance article and 3rd overall for the month of April in terms of views on US Racing having only been published and viewable for last six days of the month. Last year, my article on Always Dreaming was the free lance top article on that site and 2nd overall during Derby month.

Exciting times ahead!

–Michael

Triple Crown Contender: Why Justify will win the 2018 Preakness Stakes

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May 7th 2018 – Updated May 13th 2018

For all the fans of the “Curse of Apollo” breaker Justify, I am already calling the 143rd Preakness Stakes another victory for the Bob Baffert-trained colt. Looking over the rumored entries, I see no colt that poses a serious threat. Currently, the list of rumored entries include:

Good Magic – Kentucky Derby Runner-Up
Bravazo – 6th in the Kentucky Derby
Lone Sailor – 8th in the Kentucky Derby
Quip – Arkansas Derby Runner-Up
Tenfold – 5th in the Arkansas Derby
Givemeaminit – 3rd in the Pat Day Mile
Sporting Chance – 4th in the Pat Day Mile
Diamond King – Federico Tesio Stakes Winner

Justify has proven that he can win on a dry, fast track and in the slop. Four career starts, all earning 100+ Beyer Speed Figures. He was awarded a 103 Beyer Speed Figure for the Kentucky Derby. Below are the only 3-year-olds with a 100+ Beyer Speed Figures in races longer than one mile.

Justify – 107 – Santa Anita Derby – 9 furlongs
Mendelssohn – 106 – UAE Derby – 1900 Meters
Justify – 103 – Kentucky Derby – 10 furlongs
Bolt d’Oro – 102 – Santa Anita Derby – 9 furlong
McKinzie – 101 – San Felipe Staaks – 8 1/2 furlongss
Bolt d’Oro – 101 – San Felipe Stakes – 8 1/2 furlongs

I will be monitoring the Preakness Stakes news and rumored entries closely in preparation for a preview of the race which is just 12 days away. But right now, I’d give Justify early 4/5 odds as the race favorite. A victory in the Preakness Stakes will give the sport what has needed the past couple of years, a Triple Crown contender entering the Belmont Stakes. A victory at Belmont seems to be a much taller task against a colt such as the Todd Pletcher-trained colt Vino Rosso who will be rested up for the last leg of the Triple Crown. Pletcher has won the Belmont Stakes three times (2007, 2013, 2017) vs Bob Baffert’s two (2001, 2015).

–Michael

The Curse of Apollo is broken…but

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May 5th 2018

I am forever grateful that the Curse of Apollo was finally broken in my, our, lifetime. I thought it was in huge danger and I happy it has ended. The 2018 Kentucky Derby was exciting but…I really wish it was broken on a dry, fast track. My race favorite Magnum Moon, whose paternal brother Orb, who won in the sloppy 2013 Kentucky Derby, did not take well to the slop and finished 19th. My wet track favorite, My Boy Jack, did better finishing 5th. Good thing that through future wagers, I still came out ahead $180 this Derby.

Wet races are the great equalizer. Justify is a great 3-year-old who had experience racing on an off-track before and benefited from an inside post-position. However, how will he fare on a dry, fast track at Pimlico? I think pretty well. but I doubt that he will be my early favorite for the Belmont Stakes. I will have to research this but when was the last time a Kentucky Derby winner who who in sloppy track conditions went on to won the Triple Crown?

–Michael

Total Armageddon: Cancel all previous bets for the 2018 Kentucky Derby–It’s raining at Churchill Downs

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May 5th 2018 5:58 PM EST

Just a warning. Although there was a 90% chance of rain on Thursday in Louisville, Kentucky, today there was supposed to be a 5% chance today. However, it is raining now at Churchill Downs.

The best horses in the slop: My Boy Jack, Justify and Audible. Stay tuned! I will be updating this blog clear up until post-time. But my gut feeling is to pass on betting on this year’s Kentucky Derby because there will be better races to bet on in the future.

Magnom Moon’s paternal half-brother Orb won the 2013 Kentucky Derby from the same #16 post in the 2013 Kentucky Derby

I am backing off due to the unpredictability of a wet race. So I cancelled all previous bets. But I placed a 50 cent boxed Trifecta with four horses: 5, 7, 10, 16 that cost $12. I made it twice. $24 total. There will be better races to bet on in the future. Just enjoy the chaos and unpredictability of this year’s Derby.

I am also taking $50. Betting $33 on My Boy jack and $17 on Magnum Moon. Expected Payout about $230 plus. 

–Michael

Who’s my 2018 Kentucky Derby Favorite? I see a Bad Moon a-rising

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May 3rd 2018 – Updated May 5th 2018 4:15 PM EST (see bottom of page, U-Oh RAIN!)

All week, friends and co-workers have been asking me: “Mike, who’s your Derby favorite?” This year’s Kentucky Derby is so wide-open that I almost feel like going into hiding. I thought I had this figured out after the San Felipe Stakes, McKinzie or Bolt d’Oro. But McKinzie was taken off the Derby trail due to an injury. The Bolt d’Oro was beaten by Justify in the Santa Anita Derby.

If you read my “Who’s your Daisy in the 2018 Kentucky Derby?” article on US Racing, I don’t feel too confident that I’m your ‘Huckleberry’ this year. There are about 6-7 horses that I think can win it this year.

Folks, I think this is a far better race for 10 cent Superfectas and 50 cent Trifectas than placing big win bets. When I can narrow the potential Derby winner down to two horses like I can most years, I like to make big win bets on my two favorites. For example, Horse A is 3-1 and Horse B is 4-1. I’d take $100 and bet $55 of it on Horse A and $45 on Horse B. The payouts for each would be as follows: Horse A $220 and Horse B $225. So if you can narrow it down to two horses, you can more than double your money (120-125% Return on Investment). The higher the odds for the two favorites, the better the pay out. Last year I tripled my money playing a combination of Always Dreaming and Classic Empire. But this becomes less profitable and inadvisable with a three-horse or more combination.

Still everyone wants to know who I favor the most in this year’s Derby?

Drumroll….

If it is a wet race, I like My Boy Jack and Justify as both have proven that run well in the slop. I go into more detail of why I like My Boy Jack in a Derby profile I wrote for US Racing. Update: The weather forecast looks good for Louisville, 5% chance of chance.

If it is a dry race, it becomes more difficult since this field has a lot of fast colts. As I stated earlier, I think there are 6 to 7 horses that can win this year’s Derby on a dry fast track. These colts are: Justify, Magnum Moon, Mendelssohn, Audible, Bolt d’Oro, Vino Rosso and My Boy Jack.

All of these colts have a few things that they can be dinged on when looking for a prototype Derby winner. I will discuss below:

Justify (3/1) – Only one horse since WWII that has won the Kentucky Derby while never facing 10 or more starters in a prep race (American Pharoah in 2015). The largest field Justify has faced has been six. And then the Curse of Apollo to boot: No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby having not raced as a 2-year-old. Justify is inexperienced, having only 3 career starts, all during his 3-year-old campaign. Plus he has never raced outside the state of California.

Magnum Moon (6/1) – Same as Justify, the Curse of the Apollo works against him. However, he did face 10 starters in the Rebel Stakes. Admittedly, I didn’t think there was a serious Derby contender in the Arkansas Derby when I made my Future Wager picks the week before. I was humbled. The concern with Magnum Moon, is that he has already raced 4 times this year. Was the Arkansas Derby his peak performance? 

Mendelssohn (5/1) – No UAE Derby winner has ever won the Kentucky Derby. Plus, he had to be shipped overseas. I generally like shippers-over to get one more start under their belt on US soil before a big graded stakes race like the Kentucky Derby. But Mendelssohn was able to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf race without a prep race in the US. 

Audible (8/1) – The Florida Derby winner drew an excellent post-position (#5). Five out of the last twenty-five Derby winners started from post #5. The Florida Derby has produced the last two Kentucky Derby winners and three out of the last five. Concerning is that jockey John Velazquez opted for Vino Rosso as his mount in this year’s Derby.

Bolt d’Oro (8/1) – A very talented colt as a 2-year-old. He won the FrontRunners Stakes which has produced three out of the last four Kentucky Derby winners. Expectations were high for this son of Medaglia d’Oro entering 2018. However, he has yet to cross the wire first in his 3-year-old campaign, winning the San Felipe Stakes due to a Stewards Inquiry and disqualification to McKinzie. I sort of get the feeling that he may be this year’s version of Classic Empire. Classic Empire finished 3rd in last year’s Kentucky Derby.

Vino Rosso (12/1) – The Wood Memorial winner. I will admit that I was surprised the John Velazquez chose Vino Rosso over Audible for his Derby mount. Audible is a faster colt by times and Speed Figures. But Johnny V thinks that the son of Curlin, Vino Rosso, will like the added distance better. Since Velazquez won the Derby last year, you’ve got to take note of that.

My Derby Pick (dry, fast track)

When faced with so many unknowns, my feeling that if I am going to put my reputation on the line and get beat, I am going to down with the ship with the fastest colt in the field.

So, I am leaning towards Magnum Moon as my dry, fast track Derby favorite. There is an old saying in basketball, you can’t teach height. Well in horse racing, you can’t teach late speed. In the chart below, Magnum Moon’s final 3 furlong time in the Arkansas Derby was the fastest in this class in the major 9 furlong Derby prep races.

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Plus his last furlong in the Arkansas Derby (shown below) was in under 12 seconds (11.99). 11.99!<—- Find me any colt in this field who has run the last furlong that fast. You won’t. And it was a hand ride in the final 1/16th. Note that American Pharoah’s final furlong time in the 2015 Arkansas Derby was 12.58 but he coasted home with an 8 length lead.

And if you watch the race above, Magnum Moon seemed to lug out for no apparent reason coming onto the stretch. Otherwise his final 3 furlong time would have been faster. The shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line. Jockey Luis Saez is going to have to keep him straight as possible coming onto the stretch. One thing that I liked though, when Quip came up next to him and looked him in the eye, Magnum Moon said it was Go-Time and left the field in the dust. His jockey did nothing. Magnum Moon wants to be first. He has been in 4 career starts.

Another factor I like with Magnum Moon, he has a historically winning post-position, Post #16. Five horses in the last 25 years have won from this post, including his paternal half-brother: Orb (2013), Animal Kingdom (2011); Monarchos (2001); Charismatic (1999); Thunder Gulch (1995).

Overall, this is why I am leaning towards the undefeated Magnum Moon. I see a Bad Moon a-rising, I see trouble on the way…if it rains and the track is slop, My Boy Jack becomes my Derby favorite.

Betting Advice (U-Oh, its raining at Churchill Downs)

CANCEL ALL BETS!

The secret of My Boy Jack is out as he was at 5-1 odds in the Kentucky Derby advance and still sitting at 5/1. I have been singing his praises for weeks and my US Racing is getting a ton of views: “If you are looking for a Kentucky Derby sleeper. This is your horse!” https://www.usracing.com/news/kentucky-derby-road-to-the-roses/youre-looking-kentucky-derby-sleeper-horse

Maybe I should keep my mouth shut. That is too short of odds for a colt I identified early on as a “Derby sleeper.” He’s no sleeper now.  I still think My Boy Jack has “Hit the Board” potential but at 5-1 vs 30-1, its not going to make your exotics pay back as well. But now it is a wet race so he shoots up my board.

 

 

Overall, I am not betting big on this race as it is too up-in-the air for my tastes and that was before it rained. One thing I have learned over the years is that sometimes better to wait it out for a “lock” further on down the line and then bet big on it.

I will be monitoring the live odds clear up until post-time if I have a change of mind due to how the live odds shake out.There haven’t been much change in the odds. You can check on them by clicking here: https://www.kentuckyderby.com/wager/kentucky-derby-live-odds

–Michael

The 2018 Kentucky Derby Preview

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May 1st 2018

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby. The race will be aired live on NBC this coming Saturday around 5:45 PM CST.

As I have said in previous blogs, I think this is going to be one of the most exciting Derby’s we have seen in a long while.

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2018 Kentucky Derby Starting Field

1) Firenze Fire (50/1) – The Jerome Stakes winner (shown below). His  career best Beyer Speed Figure of 90 was accomplished as a 2-year-old in the Champagne Stakes. He will be one of the longershots in the field but has a very underrated jockey in Paco Lopez.

Career: 9 Starts 4-1-0-3   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>4th->4th
Sire: Poseiden’s Warrior
Trainer: Jason Servis (2004 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Paco Lopez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.59 (estimated) – 2018 Wood Memorial
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2017 Champagne Stakes

2) Free Drop Billy (30/1) – The Dale Romans-trained Breeders’s Futurity winner. He had a disappointing 9th place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race. He has been consistent but unspectacular since. Not a huge threat to win in this field.

Career: 8 Starts 2-3-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>3rd
Sire: Union Rags (Finished 7th in the 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Robby Albarado
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.70 (estimated) – 2018 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 90 – 2018 Holy Bull Stakes

3) Promises Fulfilled (30/1) – The Fountain of Youth Stakes winner led 6 furlongs in the Florida Derby but faded down the stretch with a 9th place finish. Not a good sign when you are jumping up from 9 furlongs to 10.

Career: 5 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>9th
Sire:  Shackleford (Finished 4th in the 2011 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Dale Romans
Jockey: Corie Lanerie
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:55.12 (estimated) – 2018 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 96 – 2018 Fountain of Youth Stakes

4) Flameaway (30/1) – The Sam F. Davis winner at Tampa Bay Downs. He finished 2nd in the Blue Grass Stakes (shown below).

Career: 9 Starts 5-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>2nd—>2nd
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Mark Casse
Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.42 (estimated) – 2018 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2018 Blue Grass Stakes

5) Audible (8/1) Last year, the Florida Derby winner who was trained by Todd Pletcher–Always Dreaming–went on to win the Kentucky Derby. Can lightning strike twice? Apparently last year’s Always Dreaming rider doesn’t think so as John Velazquez has chosen to ride Vino Rosso on Derby Day.

Career: 5 Starts 4-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st->1st–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Javier Castellano
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.48 – 2018 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 99 – 2018 Florida Derby

6) Good Magic (12/1) – The 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner and the Eclipse 2-year-old Male Champion. He had a somewhat disappointing 3rd place finish in the 2018 Fountain of Youth Stakes but bounced back to win the Blue Grass Stakes.

Career: 5 Starts 2-2-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts:  1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.18 – 2018 Blue Grass Stakes
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 100 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

7) Justify (3/1) – The race favorite. He is fast but inexperienced. However, he has 100+ Beyer Speed Figures in all three career starts. He’ll be up against the Curse of Apollo. But if had to pick a trainer-jockey combo to break the Curse, it would be Baffert-Smith.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts:  1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997,1998, 2003, & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.72 – 2018 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 107 – 2018 Santa Anita Derby

8) Lone Sailor (50/1) – The Tom Amoss-trained colt is a deep closer who briefly took the lead in the Lousiana Derby only to lose by a neck to Noble Indy (shown below). I question whether he really wants the 10 furlong distance.

Career: 8 Starts 1-3-1-0  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 9th–>2nd–>2nd
Sire: Majestic Warrior 
Trainer: Tom Amoss
Jockey: James Graham
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.32 (estimated) – 2018 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

9) Hofburg (20/1) – A second place finisher in the Florida Derby. He’s talented but very inexperienced with only 3 career starts under his belt. However, he should like the added distance as a son of Tapit.

Career: 3 Starts 1-1-0-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Tapit (Finished 9th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: William Mott
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.96 (estimated) – 2018 Florida Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Florida Derby

10) My Boy Jack (30/1)   While he is not a huge threat to win on a dry, fast track in this field, he certainly has a chance and his chances improve exponentially on a wet track. I wrote an article on his chances in the Kentucky Derby for US Racing which can be accessed HERE. And for movie buffs, no he is not named after Jack Kipling who the “My Boy Jack” movie is based on. Great movie though.

Career: 10 Starts 3-3-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Creative Cause (Finished 5th in the 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Jockey: Kent Desormeaux (1998, 2000 & 2008 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.40 (estimated) – 2018 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

11) Bolt d’Oro (8/1) – Much like Classic Empire was last year, a star as a 2-year-old who hasn’t seemed to take it to the level we expected as a 3-year-old. He’s has an excellent pedigree and I generally feel we have yet to see him run his best race. He’ll have two-time Kentucky Derby winner Victor Espinoza as his jockey.

Career: 6 Starts 4-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 4th in 2002 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mark Ruis
Jockey: Victor Espinoza (2014 & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.20 (estimated) – 2018 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 103 – 2017 FrontRunner Stakes

12) Enticed (30/1) – The other son of Medaglia d’Oro in the field. He won the Gotham Stakes and then finished 2nd in the Wood Memorial behind Vino Rosso.

Career: 6 Starts 3-1-1-1   
Last 3 starts: 4th–>1st–>2nd
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 4th in 2002 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.27 (estimated) 2018 Wood Memorial
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Gotham Stakes

13) Bravazo (50/1) – After opening up his 3-year-old campaign with two wins, most notably the Risen Star Stakes, he had a disappointing 8th place finish in his final Derby prep at Fair Grounds in the Louisiana Derby.

Career: 8 Starts 3-1-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>8th
Sire: Awesome Again
Trainer: D.Wayne Lukas (1988,1995,1996 & 1999 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Luis Contreras
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:53.68 (estimated) – 2018 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2018 Risen Star Stakes

14) Mendelssohn (5/1) – The 2018 UAE Derby winner. UAE Derby winners haven’t fared all that well in the Kentucky Derby but Mendelssohn should be viewed as a serious contender setting a UAE Derby track record and winning by 18 1/2 lengths.

Career: 7 Starts 4-1-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Aidan O’Bryan
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: N/A
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 106 – 2018 UAE Derby

15) Instilled Regard (50/1) – A consistent colt. In seven career starts, he has never finished out of the Superfecta.

Career: 7 Starts 2-2-1-2  Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>4th->4th
Sire: Arch 
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:51.24 (estimated) – 2018 Santa Anita Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 92 – 2018 Lecomte Stakes

16) Magnum Moon (6/1) – The 2018 Rebel Stakes and Arkansas Derby winner. His final 3 furlong time in the Arkansas Derby is the fastest in the class. Like Justify, he will be vying to break the Curse of Apollo.

Career: 4 Starts 4-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st>1st–>1st
Sire: Malibu Moon
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Luis Saez
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.86 – 2018 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2018 Arkansas Derby 

17) Solomini (30/1) – The Bob Baffert-trainee was yet to win since his first start as a 2-year-old. However, noteworthy that he finished 2nd in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile race behind Good Magic (shown below). His 3-year-old campaign has been a bit disappointing with a 2nd place finish in the Rebel Stakes and a 3rd place finish in the Arkansas Derby. And he draws post-position #17, a post that no colt has ever won the Derby from.

Career: 6 Starts 1-3-2-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  3rd–>2nd–>3rd
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997,1998, 2003, & 2015 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Flavien Prat 
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.54 (estimated) 2018 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 93 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile

18) Vino Rosso (12/1) – His name in Italian means “Red Wine” and he’s moving up my board. The Wood Memorial winner will get last year’s Derby winning jockey John Velazquez. His reasoning? He thinks he has more potential than Audible at getting the distance (SEE). I was a bit surprised Churchill Downs handicapper gave him 12/1 morning line odds. I think he will be well south of that number on Derby Day. So many love Italian red wine.

Career: 5 Starts 3-0-1-1   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 3rd–>4th–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: John Velazquez (2011 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:49.79 – 2018 Wood Memorial
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 98 – 2018 Wood Memorial

19) Noble Indy (30/1) – The surprise winner of the 2018 Louisiana Derby winner and yet another Derby horse trained by Todd Pletcher. Noble Indy is an above average colt in this field, but I don’t feel that he has the speed of the other Pletcher trainees. 

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts:  1st–>3rd–>1st
Sire: Take Charge Indy (Finished 19th in 2012 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 & 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey: Florent Geroux
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.28 – 2018 Louisiana Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 95 – 2018 Louisiana Derby

20) Combatant (50/1) – The lone Steve Asmussen Derby entry. Combatant is yet another son of Scat Daddy in this field. He’s a quality horse but not a serious threat to win in this very talented field. He’s only win came in a Maiden Special Weight race as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs. He’s a deep closer who you might consider in your superfectas

Career: 7 Starts 1-3-1-2   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>3rd–>4th
Sire: Scat Daddy
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Fastest 1 1/8th Mile Time: 1:50.56 (estimated) 2018 Arkansas Derby
Career Best Beyer Speed Figure: 94 – 2018 Smarty Jones Stakes

Note: In a rush to get this out early as possible, I caught and already corrected a few minor errors and typos. If you see any more, let me know.


On the docket…

My next blog will provide handicapping advice for the Derby. I should have this out by Thursday evening.

–Michael

Derby Sleeper and who’s moving up my board

2018-kentucky-derby-logo

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

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!

–Michael