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.
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.
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?
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.
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)
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.
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!
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:
Justify Magnum Moon Bolt d’Oro Mendelssohn Audible 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?
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.
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.
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. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1979/09/03/forte-e-gentile
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Another huge weekend on the Derby trail is coming up this Saturday with the Florida Derby. Three of the last five Florida Derby winners went on to win the Kentucky Derby. I will admit up front that I am a bit disappointed with the quality of this year’s field. I think a race of this stature and a purse of $1 Million dollars should have attracted another heavy hitter or two other on the Derby trail other than Aubible and Promises Fulfilled.
However, slap me silly, remember that the Todd Pletcher-trained Always Dreaming was the surprise winner last year having never won a Graded Stakes race entering that race. And Always Dreaming went on to win the Kentucky Derby. So this race deserves your attention.
Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 105th Louisiana Derby. The race will be televised live by NBC Sports Network.
Race Commentary: This race should come down to Aubible, Promises Fulfilled and Catholic Boy for the win. I ranked the Todd Pletcher trainee Audible in my Top 3 Kentucky Derby Contenders awhile back behind Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie. Will trainer Todd Pletcher be a repeat winner of the Florida Derby?
Nothing I have seen in my research for this races changes my mind about Audible. So he will be my favorite for this year’s Florida Derby so long as it is a dry race. Audible has been training well and ran an impressive time of 1:41.92 in the 8 1/2 furlong Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park back on February 3rd.
UPDATE: There no scratches and no chance of rain. The betting public right now likes Aubible and Catholic Boy and is cold on Promises Fulfilled. I still like big straight win bets on Audible.
On the Docket…
My next blog will preview the 2018 Santa Anita Derby and the much-anticipated rematch of Bolt d’Oro vs McKinzie at Santa Anita Park. I will also preview the best of the two remaining Derby prep races that day between the Blue Grass Stakes and the Wood Memorial depending upon their entries. If time permits, I will preview all three.