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Thread: 2018 Kentucky Derby Betting Info, Tips & Analysis

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    Default 2018 Kentucky Derby Betting Info, Tips & Analysis

    2018 Kentucky Derby Betting Info, Tips & Analysis
    by Dietz | Apr 27, 2018 | Horse Racing


    The Kentucky Derby is a horse race held annually in Louisville, Kentucky, United States, on the first Saturday in May, capping the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival. The race is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds at a distance of one and a quarter miles at Churchill Downs. The race is known in the United States as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports” or “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” for its approximate duration, and is also called “The Run for the Roses” (a blanket of red roses are draped over the winner). It is the first leg of the American Triple Crown followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

    he Kentucky Derby is run at a distance of 1 ¼ miles and is maxed out at 20 entries. The 20 entries are determined through a points system. Points are gathered from qualifying point races thought out the year (we have discussed these races in other posts).

    Let me start-off by saying that this race is a TOTAL CRAP SHOOT! I say it every year. These horses will never face a 20-horse field again, not even in a Breeders’ Cup race (maxed out at 16 entries). Anything can happen in a 20 horse field; bumping, pushed wide on the turn, trapped behind horses, slammed at the rail at the start of the race. FUN FACT – One horse won the Kentucky Derby starting from gate one (FERNIDAD 1986) and one horse from gate two has won since 1978 (AFFIRMED 1978). Everyone wants to get to the rail to save ground and unless you manage to break VERY from the one post you are going to get slammed into the rail and pushed back and pretty much your race is over.

    Front-running horses have a hard time in this race especially if these horses have never had mud or dirt in their face, if they caught up behind a wall of horses they will get dirt in the face causing them to back up or become restless and unsettled which in turn causes them to tire during the race. They also have to hold the distance of 1 ¼ miles.

    I like horses that have broken their maiden in late spring or early summer the previous year. This gives them time to run several races before they turn three. I also like horses that have had a minimal of five races. Each time a horse races, it gains experience and muscle. It is like you and I working out for a year compressed into two minutes and five seconds. The more a horse races the stronger he/she becomes. You hear the expression all the time “up against older horses.” Older horses are more experienced and are stronger. Only two horses in the past 10 years have won the Kentucky Derby with less than 5 races prior; ANIMAL KINGDOM (2011), BIG BROWN (2008). The past 20 years has had only six winners. You cannot really count the late 90’s with CHARISMATIC (4 races- 1999), REAL QUIET (2 races, 1988) and Silver Charm (1 race, 1997), those were the days when anyone could enter the race. It is the exact reason the money and points qualifier came into existence.

    Month/year broke maiden Races ran before the Derby

    2017 ALWAYS DREAMNIG 7/1 6 races

    2016 NYQUIST 6/15 7 races

    2015 AMERICAN PHAROAH 9/14 5 races

    2014 CALIFORNIA CHROME 4/13 10 races

    2013 ORB 8/12 7 races

    2012 I’LL HAVE ANOTHER 7/11 6 races

    2011 ANIMAL KINGDON 9/10 4 races

    I also look for horses that have won on different track surfaces. This shows me that the horse is versatile and can run on raw talent, not a “horse for the course”.

    One more factor I look at is the beyer speed figures, who has the fastest and who is increasing steadily without the potential of a “bounce”. A horse that jumps from an 80 to a 96 will have the potential to bounce. I look for horses that increase five to seven points on a steady basis or those that have produced the highest figures on a regular basis.

    I will have my complete analysis horse by horse and wagers for the Kentucky Derby, under card and Kentucky Oaks later in the week including a PICK 4, show pool and the special daily double with Friday’s Kentucky Oaks (female horses) and the Kentucky Derby.

    2018 Kentucky Derby Analysis

    MAGNUM MOONTrained by Todd Pletcher, ridden by Luis Saez (leading rider at Gulfstream Park Champions meet). Broke his maiden in January of 2018 making this a very young horse to race in the Derby. Bread very nicely out of Malibu Moon who sired Derby winner Orb. Front running style will not suit this horse well if he is caught in traffic. He has never been behind in a race and mud in the face will cause issues. He will be out front looking to hold on.

    GOOD MAGICTrained by Chad Brown, ridden by Jose Ortiz. Broke his maiden in August of 2017 at Saratoga Race Course. Winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile. Came in third in his first race off the lay-off in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, second race off the lay-off was the Toyota Blue Grass and he won. We all know how I feel about the third race of the form cycle, usually a horse’s best effort. They have bought this horse along slowly for a reason. He has also raced on five different racecourses coming in the money in all of them. I have a feeling Chad Brown is ready with this horse.

    AUDIBLETrained by Todd Pletcher, ridden by Javier Castellano. First race was in September of 2017, broke his maiden in November of 2017. Winner of four in a row, including the Florida Derby. He was very winded after that race, his gallop out was slow and he was holding off the second place finisher HOFBURG. I was a big believer in this horse until that last race, 1 ¼ miles may be tough for this horse.

    NOBLE INDY Trained by Todd Pletcher, ridden by ?????. Broke his maiden in December of 2017. Has only four career races coming into the Derby. Showed grit when checked in the Louisiana Derby and coming back to win by a neck. Least talked about horse of all the Pletcher entries.

    VINO ROSSOTrained by Todd Pletcher, ridden by Johnny V. Broke his maiden at Aqueduct in November of 2017. This will be his sixth career start having won two races at Aqueduct and one at Tampa Bay. He won the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct with a very nice closing run from far back. My concern is it rained 2 days straight prior to that day, the track was not wet, but it was not 100% dry. Never been a big fan of horses coming from Aqueduct, but this one could be one to change my mind. May be the “wise guy” horse of the Derby.

    BOLT d’ OROTrained by Nick Ruis, ridden by Victor Espinoza. Has been in the top tier of all Kentucky Derby future wagers. This horse has all the makings of a winner with pedigree, rate/closing running style and good closing kick. The issue is his last few races where he did not want to see the finish line, never really showed that winning instinct. Sometimes when a horse gives up a few times, they do not want to win.

    ENTICEDTrained by Kiaran McLaughlin, ridden by Junior Alvarado. Broke his maiden in September of 2017. This will be his seventh career start. He came in second last race in the Wood Memorial to VINO ROSSO in a very short field. He has impeccable breeding, some of the best in the Derby. He speed figures are not the same as the top qualifiers and a one-turn race seems to be his best distance.

    MENDELSSOHN Trained by Aiden O’ Brien, ridden by Ryan Moore. Broke his maiden on 8/13/17 in second career start. This will be his eighth career start. This horse fits right into my analysis, but come comes from overseas, which has a poor track record for the Derby. I do however want to point out that this horse has already come over seas and won at Del Mar in the Breeders Juvenile Turf. He won his last race (UAE Derby) by 18.5 lengths. There is lots of talk about this horse of late, in fact last I looked (4/26/18) he is second choice now in Vegas odds.

    JUSTIFY Trained by Bob Baffert, ridden by Mike Smith. Broke his maiden in February of this year. One of the lightest raced horse in the field making only three career starts, but winner of all three including a win over BOLT d ORO last race. Jockey trainer combo is the best in the business. Horse is far from my Derby theory, but look for this horse in the Travers Stakes or more mid-summer races.

    FLAMEAWAYTrained by Mark Casse, ridden by Jose Lezcano. Broke his maiden in May of 2018 and this will be his 10th career start having won races at seven different tracks and on three different surfaces (synthetic, dirt and grass). He has a win over this track as well, something most of these horses cannot say. Nothing not to like about this horse. He has come in second to GOOD MAGIC and QUIP (scratched with injury from the race) and has beaten CATHOLIC COWBOY (be on under card) and VINO ROSSO. Concern will be distance, but this horse can battle.

    SOLOMINITrained by Bob Baffert, ridden by Flavien Pratt. Broke his maiden on 9/2/17. This will be his seventh career start having been in the money in every race, but only winning his career start. As good as Baffert is, it will be a stretch to see this one winning. Lost rather convincingly to MAGNUM MOON twice, once he had the perfect rail trip while MAGNUM MOON went 4 wide and he could not gain on him in the stretch. Although he has raced in graded stakes races his entire career, I would not be shocked if this horse is entered in another race on Derby day.

    BRAVAZOTrained by D. Wayne Lucas, ridden by ????. Broke his maiden on 9/16/17 and this will be his ninth career start. This horse is puzzling. Won two races in a row including the Risen Star Stakes beating NOBLE INDY and SNAPPER SINCLAIR, then throws a dud in the Louisiana Derby losing by 21 lengths. Watching both races, you can see this horse does not like dirt in his face. That is not a good sign for the Derby with 20 horses and some very fast horses up front.

    MY BOY JACKTrained by Keith Desormeaux, ridden by Kent Desormeaux. His first race was in June of 2017, but broke his maiden five races later in October. He has since run in five more races making the Derby his 11th career start. He is the deep closer in the field and Kent Desormeaux thrives in that roll. If the track is wet, this horse may go off as the favorite. With the speed in this race, it may set up for a deep closer. Be in all exotics.

    PROMISES FULFILLED Trained by Dale Romans, ridden by Corey Lanerie. Broke his maiden on 9/17/17. This will be his sixth career start. I was optimistic for this horse after he won the Fountain of Youth and I even put an early wager on him in the Derby Future pools. He is a front-runner, who will have hard time keeping pace with others in here. Love the jockey trainer combination, but I think he is up against it in this race.

    FREE DROP BILLY
    Trained by Dale Romans, ridden by Robby Albarado. Broke his maiden on 6/15/17. This will be his ninth career start. Has not been running as well this year and was beat rather handily by the top tier horses in here including GOOD MAGIC, AUDIBLE, and FLAMEAWAY. He is a closer and will keep running in the end, but will not be in the winner’s circle.

    LONE SAILORTrained by Tom Amoss, ridden by James Graham. Broke his maiden in second career start on 9/3/17. This will be his eighth career start. Has not won any race since his maiden win. Ran very well his last race coming in second to NOBLE INDY where he actually had the lead in deep stretch, but could not hold on, losing by a head. If the horse got anything out of that race and could step forward off the effort, you never know. Best race yet.

    HOFBURGTrained by Bill Mott, ridden by Irad Ortiz. Saw this horse run on Labor Day weekend at Saratoga. I put him in my virtual stable. He was put on the shelf until this past March when he broke his maiden. They entered him in the Florida Derby off the maiden win and he came in second. Third race of the form cycle is always my favorite, particularly off the lay-off. He does not fit my Derby theory, but man does this horse looks dangerous. He did not lose by much too AUDIBLE. His sire is TAPIT and he has A.P. INDY on both sides of the breeding shed along with UNBRIDLED on stud side and DEPUTY MINISTER on mare side. I think he gained a lot from that race and although he may not win exotics are a legit shot at a price. Keep an eye on this horse for future races, Belmont and Travers Stakes in particular.

    FIRENZE FIRETrained by Jason Servis, ridden by Paco Lopez. Broke his maiden in career debut on 6/18/17. This will be his tenth career start. Has been beaten solidly the last few races in the Gotham and the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. He is a decent horse, but the grueling 1 ¼ – mile distance will have this horse well back of even the 4th place finisher.

    COMBATANT Trained by Steve Asmussen, ridden by ????. Broke his maiden in second career start on 10/29/17. This will be his eighth career start. He is a closer who will just keep running. Had three consecutive second place finishes at one point then a third place finish in the Rebel Stakes before getting a career worst 4th in the Arkansas Derby. I expect Ricardo Santana Jr. to ride and he a good jockey at Churchill. Will not be on my win ticket, but superfecta bets are must.

    INSTILLED REGARD – Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, ridden by ????. Broke his maiden in third career start on 10/29/17. Sits on number 20 in the entry field, getting in after QUIP was pulled out of the race. Has not shown much of anything, in fact I have never even heard of this horse until today while looking at the entries. Not a chance.
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    Derby Contenders - Part I
    May 1, 2018
    By Anthony Stabile


    Magnum Moon, Audible, Vino Rosso, and Noble Indy – the four horses trained by two-time Derby winner Todd Pletcher, who campaigned Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming last year, as well as Enticed, trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who is looking for his first win in the Run for the Roses. Both Pletcher and McLaughlin spent a good deal of time earlier in their careers working under Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas as his assistant.

    Magnum Moon, the leading points-winner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with 150 points, comes in undefeated in four starts and will look to become the first horse since Apollo in 1882 to win the Derby without having raced as a two-year-old.

    After breaking his maiden going six furlongs at Gulfstream on the front end in mid-January, Magnum Moon stretched out to two turns, taking a one mile and forty yards, entry level allowance/optional claimer across Florida at Tampa Bay Downs by two lengths from off the pace just about a month later under his regular rider Luis Saez.

    Pletcher decided on the G2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park on St. Patrick’s Day for Magnum Moon’s stakes debut. It featured the more seasoned, tested and fellow Derby entrant Solomini as well as the return of G1 Hopeful winner Sporting Chance. Sent off as the 3-1 second choice in the wagering, Magnum Moon stacked up three-wide for most of the way before grabbing the lead on the turn and drawing away to win by more than three lengths.

    A return to Arkansas four weeks later for the G1 Arkansas Derby was the plan and for a while it looked like a dream prep match-up with fellow undefeated, Apollo Curser Justify. But Justify was rerouted and stayed in California, leaving Magnum Moon to be the overwhelming 4-5 favorite. He failed to disappoint.

    Sent immediately to the lead by Saez, Magnum Moon made every pole a winning one and, despite drifting out through the stretch, crossed the wire a four-length winner. After the win, Magnum Moon returned to Pletcher’s Palm Beach Downs (PBD) winter headquarters and with just three weeks between Arkansas and Kentucky, he worked just once between starts going four furlongs in :47 2/5 on April 27 at Churchill.

    Like Magnum Moon, Audible comes into the Derby on a four-race win-streak, with his lone defeat coming in his sprint debut against fellow New York-breds at Belmont Park last fall. He closed out his juvenile season with a win against similar competition at Aqueduct in mid-November when he stretched out to a mile then defeated just three others in an off-the-turf event going the same distance against open company in early December.

    Originally scheduled to winter in the Big Apple, Pletcher sent for Audible after winter weather at Aqueduct postponed a couple of his intended targets, And, like plenty of Pletcher runners in the past, Audible took a big step forward once arriving in the Sunshine State.

    On February 3, Audible thrust himself onto the Derby Trail with a powerful victory by over five lengths in the G2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream. Under Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano, who has decided to pilot him over Bolt d’Oro in Louisville, Audible raced in mid-pack before exploding on the far turn and expanding his margin of victory through the stretch. It was an effort that admittedly surprised Pletcher but not the betting public who pummeled him down to 3-1 at the windows.

    Pletcher decided Audible would need just one more prep, skipped the G2 Fountain of Youth with him and pointed him to the G1 Florida Derby on March 31, a race he won last year with Always Dreaming. Sent to post as the 8-5 favorite, Audible dropped toward the back of the pack in the early running and looked a bit disinterested before getting his mind on his business and moving past the field. He made the lead on the far turn and tallied a comfortable three-length score under John Velazquez who filled in for Castellano who was in Dubai for their World Cup night.

    Since the Florida Derby, Audible has put in three works at PBD. He went a half-mile in :48 3/5 on April 13, five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 on April 20 and four furlongs in :49 2/5 on April 27 at Churchill.

    Should Vino Rosso win the Derby, it would mark only the second time in history that a trainer/jockey combo would win back to back renewals of the Derby. Trainer Lucian Lauren and jockey Ron Turcotte accomplished the feat back in 1972 and 1973 with Riva Ride and the immortal Secretariat. Hall of Famer John Velazquez piloted Always Dreaming last year and also won this back in 2011 aboard Animal Kingdom.

    After winning both starts last year, a seven furlong maiden event at Aqueduct and an allowance/optional claimer around two turns at Tampa Bay, Vino Rosso returned to the oval and made his first start of the season in the G3 Sam F. Davis in early February. Racing between horses most of the way, he dropped back on the far turn before closing once shaking clear in the stretch to finish a closing third, missing by just over a length.

    Pletcher added blinkers for the G2 Tampa Bay Derby a month to the day later in the hopes that some of the erratic behavior from the Davis would disappear. It did, but Vino Rosso never fired. Though he sat a perfect trip behind the speed, he lost ground through the stretch and stayed fourth.

    In need of Derby points, Pletcher sent Vino Rosso back to the scene of his debut where he faced eight rivals in the G2 Wood Memorial at the Big A in early April. Racing far back behind a solid early half-mile, Velazquez turned him loose approaching the far turn and tackled the new leader Enticed at the top of the stretch. After a battle that included several bumps between the two that appeared to be initiated by this guy, he eventually shook free of his rival and crossed the wire three lengths in front. The inquiry sign was posted but ultimately, and many think, wrongfully, the stewards let the decision stand.

    With four weeks between his last victory and the Derby, Vino Rosso will work twice between starts. He went a half-mile in :49 3/5 at PBD on April 20 and a half-mile in :47 1/5 at Churchill on April 27.

    Noble Indy will come in with the biggest break between starts for Pletcher as he was last seen gutting out a hard-fought win in the G2 Louisiana Derby some six weeks before the first Saturday in May. In fact, Noble Indy started the streak in which Pletcher won a major Derby prep on FOUR consecutive Saturdays.

    Noble Indy started his career with an eye-opening, seven furlong score in 1:22 in early December, then toyed with the highly regarded Mississippi five weeks later in an entry level allowance/optional claimer, both at Gulfstream. Pletcher shipped Noble Indy to the Fair Grounds for his stakes debut, the G2 Risen Star in mid-February.

    Breaking from post 2, Noble Indy got bothered a bit at the break then was caught down inside and behind horses on a speed-biased racetrack. He stayed on nicely to save the show-dough as the two longshot leaders hit the line noses apart, two lengths ahead of him.

    Last out in the Louisiana Derby, Pletcher added blinkers but Noble Indy again had some trouble at the break from that same post 2 This time, however, Velazquez got aggressive and maneuvered him off the inside while stalking a 100-1 shot on the front end. He appeared to put things to bed when he opened three lengths on the field turning for home while racing along the inside but failed to see a pair of rivals, Lone Sailor and My Boy Jack, make menacing moves to and past him. But instead of folding his tent, he fought back and re-rallied along the inside to win by a neck.

    Noble Indy will have four works leading up to this. He went a half-mile in :50 1/5 on April 6, five furlongs in 1:01 on April 13 and six panels in 1:15 on April 20, all at PBD. His final work was at Churchill on April 27 where he went five furlongs in 1:01 3/5. Florent Geroux will ride him in the Derby for the first time.

    The connections of Enticed have to be hoping that the win/loss pattern he has exhibited throughout his six-race career holds true in the Derby as he has won his odd-numbered starts and lost his even-numbered starts.

    Enticed broke his maiden in the mud at Saratoga on closing day before finishing third in the G1 Champagne at Belmont. He closed out his juvenile season with a game victory in the KJC at Churchill, his first start around two turns.

    McLaughlin took Enticed to Florida and pointed him towards the Holy Bull. He also decided to make a rider change to Joe Rosario despite the fact the Junior Alvarado had ridden him perfectly in his first three starts. Breaking from the rail, Enticed raced inside the entire way and put in a minor bid approaching the turn but didn’t sustain his rally and faded to fourth as the 9-5 favorite.

    Enticed regrouped and was sent to Aqueduct for the G3 Gotham. With the NYRA schedule changed this year, the Gotham returned to a one-turn mile for the first time in over a decade. Alvarado climbed back aboard and the two fell right back into cadence, sitting in mid-pack while widest of all before rolling past the leader to win by almost three lengths while geared down for the last 50 yards.

    Enticed returned to Aqueduct for the Wood Memorial and was sent off as the 6-5 favorite. Second most of the way, he made the lead briefly on the turn before getting into the aforementioned slugfest with Vino Rosso.

    Enticed has been back at his winter base, Palm Meadows, since the Wood Memorial. He returned to the worktab on April 19 when he worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 and finished up his major morning business on April 26 when he went five furlongs in 1:00 1/5.
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    Derby Contenders - Part 2
    May 1, 2018
    By Anthony Stabile


    The second of our four-part Kentucky Derby preview will focus on runners who all have one thing in common – they are all trained by men in the Hall of Fame. They include the Bob Baffert trained duo of Justify and Solomini, Bravazo, trained by the 82-year-old D. Wayne Lukas, Hofburg from the Bill Mott barn and Instilled Regard from the Jerry Hollendorfer stable. Both Baffert and Lukas are looking for their fifth wins in the event which would give them sole possession of second-place when it comes to Derby wins, trailing just “Plain Ben” Jones who won it six times.

    All eyes will be on Justify, who’ll undoubtedly be the favorite in the Derby, under fellow Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who won this in 2005 with longshot Giacomo. He’ll look to stay undefeated in four starts and break the Apollo Curse in the process by becoming the first horse to win the Derby without having raced as a juvenile since 1882.

    Justify, who has made all of his starts at Santa Anita, didn’t even make his first start until February 18, when he took a seven furlong maiden special weight event against six rivals in a dazzling 1:21 4/5 by almost 10 lengths with blinkers and Drayden Van Dyke aboard. Initially, a trip to New Mexico for the G3 Sunland Derby was on tap but Baffert changed his mind on that and a few other things.

    Van Dyke was replaced by Smith, the blinkers came off and Baffert entered Justify in an entry level allowance/optional claimer just three weeks after his debut. Stretching out to a two turn mile, Justify rated off the pace over a muddy track, made the lead as he pleased approaching the turn and cruised to a six-plus length tally against just four others, leading Smith to compare him to the great Easy Goer after the race.

    A showdown with Magnum Moon in the G1 Arkansas Derby was supposed to be the final prep for Justify but an injury to his stablemate McKinzie forced Baffert to reshuffle his Derby deck. Instead of shipping to Oaklawn, Justify stayed home for the G1 Santa Anita Derby on April 7 and a showdown with multiple G1 winner Bolt d’Oro.

    Justify returned to his front-running ways and went straight to the front under Smith, who got away with a soft :47 4/5 half-mile that essentially sealed the deal. Bolt d’Oro took a bit of a run at Justify on the far turn but he had plenty in the tank, kept his rival to his inside and won by three lengths.

    Justify will have just a pair of works between starts. He went a sharp 1:13 1/5 at Santa Anita on April 21 and seven furlongs in 1:25 1/5 on April 27, both at Santa Anita.

    Solomini’s path to Louisville has been far more adventurous than many thought it would be after he broke his maiden in his debut last summer at Del Mar. Second place finishes in both the G1 Front Runner behind Bolt d’Oro and G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to Good Magic had him poised to be one of the leaders in the division coming into this season.

    In fact, he was so sharp at the end of last year that Baffert gave Solomini the opportunity to nail down a G1 win of his own in the Los Alamitos Futurity. And he did. Then he didn’t. Allow me to explain.

    Taken back to last in the short field of five, regular rider Flavien Prat allowed Solomini a chance to settle before making a protracted late rally through the lane that eventually turned into a game of pinball with his two rivals, McKinzie and Instilled Regard. Solomini won the battle, as the three hit the wire less than a length apart.

    Then, in one of the worst calls by the stewards in the history of horse racing, Solomini was disqualified from the win and placed third as McKinzie, the one who many believed caused the rumpus, was awarded the win.

    This season started as roughly as last one ended as Solomini missed some time earlier in the year and didn’t return until the G2 Rebel on March 17. Sent off as the even money favorite, Solomini worked out a favorable trip from his post 3 draw but encountered some trouble on the turn when the early leader began to fade and was stopped at the top of the stretch. He managed to re-rally to get place but was no match for Magnum Moon who won by over three lengths.

    Baffert originally planned on running Solomini in the G2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct but rerouted him to Arkansas for their Derby in mid-April. Racing wide throughout, Solomini found himself in peril of being on the outside looking in regarding Derby points but managed to get the show-dough in a four-horse scrum behind Magnum Moon, who won by four lengths.

    Baffert worked Solomini three furlongs in :35 1/5 on April 23 and six furlongs in 1:14 3/5 on April 29 at Santa Anita. Baffert won the Derby in 1997 with Silver Charm, the following year with Real Quiet, in 2002 with War Emblem and in 2015 with eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. Zayat Stables, who owned American Pharoah, are part of Solomini’s ownership group.

    Unlike Baffert, it’s been a while since Lukas has trained a Derby winner. You have to go back to 1999 when Charismatic upset Baffert’s Indian Charlie and all the rest. Prior to that, he won it in 1988 with the filly Winning Colors and back-to-back renewals in 1995 and 1996 with Thunder Gulch and Grindstone. This year, Bravazo figures to be one of the longest shots on the board.

    Though Bravazo won just once from five tries last season, he did manage to finish second in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at 47-1 and third in the Street Sense over the course before an off-the-board effort after some trouble at the start of the G2 KJC.

    This season, Bravazo returned in mid-January, taking an entry level allowance/optional claimer from off the pace by a neck before Lukas went after some Derby points in the G2 Risen Star on St Patrick’s Day at the Fair Grounds in Louisiana. Dismissed at 21-1, Bravazo took advantage of a speed-biased course, sat second to longshot leader Snapper Sinclair and eventually won a head bob to win by a nose.

    Things didn’t go as well last out in the G2 Louisiana Derby in late March. Breaking from the rail, Bravazo wasn’t able to work out the same perfect trip he did in his prior Fair Grounds visit and called it a day on the far turn, finishing more than 20 lengths behind the winner Noble Indy.

    As is the Lukas way, one bad start will not prevent Bravazo from running for the roses. He returned to the worktab on April 2, going a half mile in :48 3/5 at Oaklawn before Lukas shipped him to Churchill, where he worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 on April 13, six panels in 1:15 2/5 on April 20 and five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 on April 28. Luis Contreras will ride.

    Hofburg, like Justify, will look to become just the second horse in over 100 years to win the Derby with just three starts under his belt. The only other to do it was the undefeated Big Brown in 2008. Like Big Brown, Hofburg debuted on closing weekend at Saratoga last September, finishing fourth in a maiden special weight event going six furlongs under Irad Ortiz, Jr who’ll be back aboard for the first time in here.

    Six months later, Hofburg, a half-brother to multiple G1 stakes winner Emollient, returned for Mott at Gulfstream in early March on the Fountain of Youth undercard. Breaking from the outside post 11, Hofburg and Jose Ortiz raced four to five wide throughout, fought their way to the lead on the turn then held off a next-out maiden winner while drifting through the stretch a bit to by a little less than a length.

    The win was enough to entice the usually conservative Mott to enter Hofburg in the G1 Florida Derby. Facing a field of nine far more seasoned runners in just his second start of the year. Hofburg was far back early but unleashed a powerful rally to finish second, three lengths behind Audible, who was winning his second consecutive stakes and fourth race in a row.

    Those who were surprised at Hofburg running in the Florida Derby are likely equally surprised at his presence in here. He worked a half-mile in :49 on April 15, five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 on April 22 at Payson Park and a half-mile in :48 1/5 on April 29 at Churchill.

    Instilled Regard rejoined the Derby fray after the defection Gronkowski for Hollendorfer off of a non-descript fourth place finish in the Santa Anita Derby.

    Instilled Regard broke his maiden in the third start of his juvenile campaign when he stretched out to 1 1/16 miles off a pair of sprint efforts. He ended the season getting bounced around through the stretch of the Los Al Futurity where he was elevated to second.

    This year, Instilled Regard took his show on the road to the Fair Grounds for his first two starts and found mixed results. He worked out a good but wide trip in the G3 LeComte in mid-January and parlayed it into an impressive tally by almost four lengths the vaulted him to the top of plenty of Derby lists.

    His fall was just as quick as his rise, however, when he disappointed as the 7-5 favorite in the Risen Star. Sitting an even better trip, he failed to fire turning for home and finished an even fourth, a bit over two lengths behind Bravazo.

    Last out in the Santa Anita Derby, an even more lackluster performance in which he finished a non-threatening fourth to Justify led many to believe his Derby aspirations were gone yet here he is.

    Instilled Regard has worked three times for this, going an easy half-mile in :51 2/5 on April 15, five furlongs in 1:01 on April 21 and five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 on April 29, all at Santa Anita. He’ll be ridden in the Derby by Drayden Van Dyke.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Derby Contenders - Part 3
    May 1, 2018
    By Anthony Stabile


    The third of our four-part Kentucky Derby preview will focus on the 2017 Eclipse Award winning juvenile Good Magic, Eclipse runner-up Bolt d’Oro, multi-surface stakes winner Flameaway and the Dale Romans trained duo of Free Drop Billy and Promises Fulfilled.

    After starting his career with runner-up finishes in a maiden special weight event at Saratoga and in the G1 Champagne last fall at Belmont, Good Magic became the first horse in the history of the Breeders’ Cup to win the Juvenile as a maiden when he parlayed a perfect trip from just off the pace at Del Mar under his regular rider Jose Ortiz to win by over four lengths. That lone victory was enough to get him year-end honors.

    Trainer Chad Brown didn’t make Good Magic’s sophomore year plans clear, leading many to ask where the champ was before he finally returned to the worktab in late January. After five morning drills, he returned at Gulfstream on the first weekend of March for the G2 Fountain of Youth.

    Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, Good Magic broke well and sat third behind the two speeds, including the pace-setting Promises Fulfilled, through a fairly slow opening half-mile. Ortiz asked him to run approaching the turn and though he made a brief bid he really failed to make an impact, checking in third, more than four lengths behind the gate-to-wire winner.

    Brown decided to get Good Magic out of Florida for his second and final prep and decided on the G2 Blue Grass at Keeneland, run four weeks prior to the Derby.

    Breaking from post 10, Good Magic broke and outwardly but quickly corrected himself and found himself sitting a similar trip to the one he sat in the Juvenile. Ortiz managed to get him to the lead once the field turned for home and he was able to battle past a pesky Flameaway to win by just over a length as the 8-5 favorite.

    Good Magic trained at Keeneland for the most part since the Blue Grass and went a half-mile in :48 on April 21. He wrapped up his serious training for the race at Churchill on April 28 going four furlongs in :49 2/5.

    The Juvenile and the Eclipse Award were the only two times Bolt d’Oro last season. After breaking his maiden and taking the G1 Del Mar Futurity at Del Mar last summer in sprints, he stretched out to thrash eight rivals in the G1 Front Runner around two turns at Santa Anita.

    The 3-5 favorite for the Juvenile, Bolt d’Oro had a worse trip than the Titanic, bobbling at the start then getting stuck wide throughout, managing just a third place finish in one of the more surprising results of the two-day event.

    Trainer Mick Ruis had intended to bring Bolt d’Oro back in the G2 San Vicente going seven furlongs at Santa Anita but a slight muscle pull thwarted those plans and he instead trained up to the G2 San Felipe going 1 1/16 miles. Ruis also made a rider switch from Corey Nakatani to Javier Castellano.

    From his rail draw for his first start in over four months, Bolt d’Oro sat a great trip behind the speed and went after the leader, McKinzie, on the far turn. The two brushed on the turn before McKinzie drifted and made contact with this colt numerous times through the lane before taking a head decision. The victory was short lived, however, as the stewards disqualified McKinzie and declared Bolt d’Oro the winner.

    Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie were set for a rematch in the G1 Santa Anita Derby before McKinzie was taken off the Derby Trail due to injury and replaced by Justify. Sent off as the 6-5 second choice, Bolt d’Oro followed a loose-on-the-lead Justify around the track while racing to his inside, took a run at him approaching the turn but failed to dent his lead through the lane and finished three lengths behind the winner.

    After the race, Castellano decided to ride Audible for trainer Todd Pletcher, leaving Ruis to find another rider. He went out and got three-time Derby winner Victor Espinoza, who won this in 2002 with War Emblem and back-to-back runnings in 2014 and 2015 with California Chrome and Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. He worked seven furlongs at April 22 in 1:24 1/5 and a half-mile in :48 1/5 on April 28, both at Santa Anita.

    Flameaway heads to the Derby starting gate as one of the more experienced and versatile runners in the field as he has already made nine starts and won on dry dirt, wet dirt, synthetic and turf for his trainer Mark Casse.

    In five starts last season, he broke his maiden in his debut at Woodbine, the off-the-turf Skidmore in the mud at Saratoga and the G3 Bourbon at Keeneland in the slop from five tries, ending his season with an off-the-board finish in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf a little over three lengths behind the winner, Mendelssohn.

    This year, Flameaway kicked off the season with a gutsy, gate-to-wire tally in the Kitten’s Joy on the Gulfstream grass before Casse decided to put him on the Derby Trail in the G3 Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay in early February.

    Piloted by Jose Lezcano for the first time, Flameaway went to the front and was hounded most of the way, eventually being tackled by the prohibitive favorite Catholic Boy, who appeared to have him measured, on the turn. But Flameaway, like he’s done several times already in his career, dug in and refused to lose, holding on by a half-length.

    Tactics changed in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby for Flameaway due to both the presence of the fast sprinter World of Trouble and the fact that he found some trouble at the start. Lezcano had to take him off of the pace and he didn’t appear to be as comfortable as he is free-wheeling on the front end. He still put in a solid late rally to miss by just a length to Preakness-bound Quip.

    A Keeneland regular, Casse brought Flameaway back to the site of his Bourbon win for the Blue Grass. He showed his speed from post 11 and was in the thick of things throughout before grudgingly giving way in the stretch to Good Magic.

    Flameaway who has been at Churchill since Casse shipped back up from Florida, has posted two works since the Blue Grass, going five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 on April 21 and a half-mile in :47 4/5 on April 28.

    Free Drop Billy appears to be the best of two chances local boy Romans will take in this Run for the Roses. And he’ll be reunited with his regular rider from last season, Robby Albarado, for his biggest start yet.

    Albarado and Free Drop Billy did some good work last season. He broke his maiden first out beneath the twin spires then missed by just a length in the G3 Sanford to eventual G1 winner Firenze Fire and by a neck in the G1 Hopeful to Sporting Chance, a race Romans thought ‘Billy’ was best in after the winner drifted through the stretch.

    Free Drop Billy returned to Kentucky to win the G! Breeders’ Futurity in a common gallop by four lengths before failing to fire at all in the Juvenile.

    After a three month break, Free Drop Billy returned in the G2 Holy Bull at Gulfstream with leading rider Luis Saez aboard. He made what appeared to be a winning move on the far turn before Audible ran right past him to win by over five lengths. Still, it was a useful return and after flirting with the idea of running in the Fountain of Youth, Romans scratched him to run in the G3 Gotham at Aqueduct a week later.

    Cutting back to a one turn mile, Free Drop Billy seemed a bit out of sorts, confused if you will, and getting bumped at the start couldn’t have helped matters. Unlike the winner Enticed who settled just fine and seemed to like the cut back, he did not and after a wide trip could manage just a third place finish, almost seven lengths behind the winner, as the 8-5 favorite.

    Free Drop Billy returned to Keeneland for the Blue Grass as his final prep as Romans figured a return to his favorite track would do him some good. Far back early, ‘Billy’ began to pass horses approaching the far turn and appeared in with a chance before appearing to level off just a bit when Sporting Chance, of all rivals, made a right hand turn and essentially side-slammed him. He crossed the line fourth, just behind his nemesis, but was quickly awarded third place after the incident.

    Like he does every year, Romans shipped everything up to Churchill after the Gulfstream Park meet ended and Free Drop Billy posted his first of two moves for this on April 21 when he went five furlongs in :59. He finished up his major work on April 28, going a half-mile in :49 2/5.

    Promises Fulfilled figures to be one of the longer shots on the board come post time for the Derby off of a last place effort in the G1 Florida Derby, the only bad race he’s ever run.

    As a two-year-old, Promises Fulfilled broke his maiden at first asking over the course then won an entry level allowance contest at Keeneland, both in gate-to-wire fashion while sprinting. He closed out the season with a third place finish after setting the pace in the G2 KJC when he was getting out on both turns. It was found that he popped a splint during the race which caused the drifting according to Romans.

    This season, he didn’t return until the Fountain of Youth, a race that appeared to have some early speed to go with Promises Fulfilled, namely the stretching out sprinter Strike Power. But under instructions from Romans to “send him from the rip,” jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. hustled this colt to the lead and managed to make lead from start to finish by a bit over two lengths at 18-1.

    Ortiz jumped off Promises Fulfilled to ride one of the favorites, Catholic Boy, in the Florida Derby so Albarado, who was aboard for the first two starts of his career, climbed back aboard. Romans gave him the same instructions as he gave Ortiz.

    Unfortunately, Strike Power’s camp decided to protect their rail draw by utilizing his speed and the two hooked up early. Promises Fulfilled eventually cleared but had to go a full two seconds faster to the half and was done for by the time they reached the turn, eventually finishing over 35 lengths behind the winner, Audible.

    Off of that effort, many though Romans would skip the Derby but he announced almost immediately that Promises Fulfilled would see out the Derby Trail. He worked a sharp five furlongs in :59 1/5 on April 21 and went four furlongs in :48 on April 28. Corey Lanerie will ride for the first time.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Derby Contenders - Part 4
    May 1, 2018
    By Anthony Stabile


    The last of our four-part Kentucky Derby preview will focus on European import Mendelssohn, fellow G1 winner Firenze Fire, My Boy Jack, Lone Sailor and Combatant.

    Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Mendelssohn is no stranger to U.S. racing despite having spend all but a handful of weeks of his career on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. A winner just once in his first four starts, he came over with the rest of the Coolmore bunch for the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar last fall.

    As a half-brother to the legendary mare Beholder, it was assumed Mendelssohn would try the dirt in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile while he far more accomplished stablemate U S Navy Flag would run in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. But after a few days of contemplation and training, the two were flip-flopped.

    Mendelssohn, racing on Lasix for the first time, sat a perfect trip in fourth behind the leaders and fought his way to a one length victory through the final eighth of a mile as the lukewarm 9-2 favorite under Ryan Moore who will be in to ride for the Derby.

    Mendelssohn returned to action in early March, trying a synthetic surface for the first time and was a three-quarter length winner going a mile, on the European Road to the Kentucky Derby.

    It was decided that Mendelssohn would try to get to the Derby via Dubai and the lucrative G2 UAE Derby going about 1 3/16 miles, the longest of all Derby preps, on the Dubai World Cup undercard. In his first and only start on conventional dirt, he was sent to the lead and improved his margin at every pole, using a speed-biased course to beat the filly Rayya and minor stakes winner Reride from the Steve Asmussen barn by over 18 lengths.

    While many have tried to win the Derby by way of Europe and Dubai, few have sported such an impressive victory, the pedigree and have a stateside run under their belts, as Mendelssohn has. He figures to be second or third choice in the wagering and will do almost all of his major training before arriving at Churchill the week of the race.

    Firenze Fire will be facing the starter for the tenth time in his career when he goes postward for trainer Jason Servis under his new pilot Paco Lopez.

    A three time winner last season, Firenze Fire broke his maiden in his debut at Monmouth before upsetting the G3 Sanford at Saratoga. He wrapped his summer campaign with a fourth place finish in the G1 Hopeful also at the Spa.

    Firenze Fire notched his biggest win to date in the fall at Belmont when he raced wide throughout before wearing down eventual Juvenile/Eclipse winner Good Magic in the G1 Champagne at Belmont going a flat mile. He closed out his juvenile season with an awful effort in the Juvenile.

    Firenze Fire returned in early January and overcame a speed-biased course at Aqueduct to win the Jerome going a mile with a last-to-first move over a muddy track. Stretched back out to two turns for the G3 Withers at nine furlongs, Firenze Fire appeared one paced in the final stages yet managed to hold onto the place money.

    Servis cut Firenze Fire back to a one turn mile in the G3 Gotham. Many felt that this would in fact be what he ultimately wanted to do but he appeared dull and disinterested and reported home fourth, almost 10 lengths behind the winner, Enticed. He was stretched back out to nine furlongs for the G2 Wood Memorial last out where he finished over 11 lengths behind Vino Rosso while never being a factor.

    Firenze Fire figures to be one of the biggest prices in the Derby and with good reason. Just combine his last two starts with a dawdling three furlongs in :39 3/5 on the Belmont Park training track on April 21 and you’re left questioning why he is even here. He finished up his major morning moves when he went a half-mile in :50 on April 28 over the same strip.

    My Boy Jack wins the race for “most starts by a Derby runner” this year as he’ll be making start number 11 on Saturday for the Desormeax brothers, trainer Keith and Hall of Fame jockey Kent. Kent has won the Derby three times, with Real Quiet in 2998, Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000 and Big Brown in 2008.

    Last Year, My Boy Jack won just once in six starts, breaking his maiden in the Zuma Beach in Santa Anita on turf before finishing seventh in the B.C. Juvenile turf. In fact, he made five of his juvenile starts on the lawn after finishing off-the-board in his career debut on dirt.

    Keith decided to try My Boy Jack on dirt again to start this season and ran him in the G3 Sham at Santa Anita in early January. He showed more speed than he ever had off the two month freshening, placed just a couple of lengths off of the leaders but faded through the lane to finish third, over seven lengths behind McKinzie.

    My Boy Jack stayed on the Trail and shipped to Oaklawn for the G3 Southwest on President’s Day. Rains left the track muddy and a pretty strong inside bias revealed itself as the card proceeded through the day. Kent noticed this and never left the rail with ‘Jack,’ allowing him to settle early before scooting up the inside to power away to a four-plus length victory.

    The Desormeaux boys went home to Louisiana for what figured to be My Boy Jack’s final prep, the G2 Louisiana Derby in late March at the Fair Grounds. Sent to post as one of the favorites, ‘Jack’ again settled towards the rear and began to pass horses approaching the turn, this time down the center of the track. He looked a winner when the field straightened for home but simply hung on the money and finished three-quarters of a length behind Noble Indy and Lone Sailor in third.

    While in hindsight the 32 Derby points he had accumulated would have been enough, they didn’t seem to be sufficient then, so Keith decided to run My Boy Jack in the G3 Lexington at Keeneland, a last chance to grab Derby points, with just 20 going to the winner. Under an amazing ride by Kent, ‘Jack’ saved ground early then made his way around horses to run down a dead-game Telekinesis in the last two jumps to win by a head.

    My Boy Jack posted his lone work in the three weeks between starts on April 28 when he went five furlongs in 1:03 1/5 at Churchill.

    Lone Sailor comes into the Derby still eligible for an entry level allowance contest having already made eight starts for trainer Tom Amoss.

    Last summer, when Amoss was doing broadcasts for The N.Y.R.A at Saratoga, he gave the viewers an inside look into what it’s like to saddle a horse and it just so happened to be Lone Sailor, who finished fifth that day before coming back to break his maiden over a sloppy track in an off-the-turf event.

    A third place finish in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, a narrow loss in the Street Sense and fifth place finish after a wide trip in the G2 KJC, both at Churchill, is how Lone Sailor completed his juvenile season.

    This season, Lone Sailor has made all three of his starts to date at the Fair Grounds, starting with a terrible effort in the G3 LeComte in mid-January when Amoss experimented with adding blinkers. He proceeded to finish second in an entry level allowance/optional claimer after breaking a bit slowly.

    Amoss decided that effort was enough to give Lone Sailor one more chance against the big boys in the G2 Louisiana Derby in late March. On the heels of his owner, New Orleans Saints and Pelicans owner Tom Benson, passing away, the sentimental money poured in as he was sent to post at 9-1. The money was almost right.

    After settling in at the back of the pack early, his jockey Jimmy Graham asked Lone Sailor for some run and he came with a big move towards the lead and briefly got past the leader, Noble Indy, in the stretch before Noble Indy caught a glimpse of Lone Sailor and battled back to win by a neck. Still, the race served its purpose and Lone Sailor got the points he needed to get in to this.

    Lone Sailor shipped to Churchill at the end of the Fair Ground meet and has been training nicely over the course. He went a half-mile in :47 4/5 on April 11, a blistering five furlongs in :57 3/5 on April 19, easily the fastest work put in my any contender leading up to the race, and a more sensible :48 for a half-mile on April 27.

    Like Lone Sailor, Combatant, trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, has won just one of his seven races, a maiden event at Churchill in his second career start and first on dirt, going a mile back in late October after finishing fourth in his debut on the grass.

    Combatant got a seven week break before trying stakes company for the first time when he finished second to Greyvitos in the Springboard Mile at Remington. Nearly a month later, Combatant would make his first of four consecutive starts at Oaklawn when he finished second again, this time to the ill-fated Mourinho in the Smarty Jones,

    Though he sat relatively close to the pace in his first few starts, Combatant began to gain his reputation as a closer when he came from far back while racing wide when he was the runner-up again in the Southwest.

    He made a similar bid when his runner-up streak was snapped at three and he had to settle for the show dough after he found a touch of trouble at the start of the G2 Rebel. Under his regular rider Ricardo Santana, Jr., Combatant looked like he would second yet again but was out gamed to the wire by Solomini.

    Last out in the Arkansas Derby, a slower pace than he had grown accustomed to combined with a wider trip from his outside post 9 resulted in arguably he worst performance to date, as Combatant appeared to flatten out through the stretch while in a four-way battle for place. His fourth place finish actually left him on the outside looking in Derby-wise but he was able to get into the field when Quip defected.

    Though Combatant has been training steadily for the past three weeks, he posted just once work, going a half-mile in :49 3/5 at Churchill on April 30.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Kentucky Derby - Pick Six
    May 1, 2018


    The Top-6 Horses In the 2018 Kentucky Derby

    It’s that time of year, folks. I know that there’s the second round of the NBA playoffs and the NHL playoffs going on, but the biggest sporting event of the week is none other than the 2018 Kentucky Derby. BetOnline.ag is proud to have odds on the race in our racebook, and this is event that you don’t want to miss.

    One of the biggest draws this year is that there’s a horse that has massive Triple Crown potential. Below you’ll find projected odds for the top-six horses as we understand them. The actual odds for the 2018 Kentucky Derby will be released on Wednesday evening, and the event itself will go off on Saturday, May 5th while being broadcast by NBC in a five hour extravaganza hosted by Bob Costas.

    For the most part, the 2018 Kentucky Derby is a six-horse race so we’ve gone ahead and built mini profiles for those contenders. Read on and have all the ammo you need to both attack the racebook on the weekend, make some money and impress your coworkers with your sudden knowledge of the biggest race of the year.

    We’ll have a “best bets to make” which will include a horse racing betting guide (it’s very different than average sports betting) this coming week as well.

    *records listed are first-second-third
    **total money indicates career earnings

    1. Justify – 2-1 to win 2018 Kentucky Derby
    3-0-0 and $666,000 in career earnings


    Here’s the main point you need to know about Justify, a glorious Scat Daddy colt who’s grandfather was the legendary Ghostzapper – he became the favorite to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby back in February after a bunch of handicappers saw him train. This isn’t an exaggeration. Justify crushed the eye-test, and then backed it up in his first and only stakes competition.

    In the 2018 Santa Anita Derby, one of only seven Kentucky Derby prep races that’s worth 100 points on the trail, Justify crushed Bolt d’Oro and was essentially hand ridden. This means that his jockey, the one and only Mike Smith, didn’t need to crack the whip to get Justify to gallop out to victory. This means two things: Justify is naturally competitive, and he’s talented enough to beat top flight competition without exerting his full capacity.

    Bob Baffert trains Justify, and that in itself is enough for horse players to trust Justify overall as the favorite. With four wins at the derby, Baffert is the winningest active trainer in the business and is as close as they come to being a living legend. Coupled with Mike Smith, who is widely considered the top American jockey, Justify has all the tools and pedigree to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

    It’s technically a six horse race, but Justify is clearly the best of the bunch. The only dent in his hype is the fact that he’s only run one stakes race. Had he not won it so easily and convincingly we might be singing another tune. Expect his odds to be bet down very quickly by the time the derby goes off. The earlier you grab his number – whether it’s in exacta’s or stand alone straight wagers – the better.

    2. Magnum Moon – 4-1 to win 2018 Kentucky Derby
    4-0-0 and $1,177,800 in career earnings


    A lot of people are high on Magnum Moon, and for relatively good reason. He’s undefeated, and dominated both the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Stakes on route to Churchill Downs. But he looked vulnerable and green in his Arkansas win, drifting wide during the home stretch despite being well in front. He’s more so a horse to track over the summer as I assume he will continue to mature in to a top flight competitor. Though the derby seems like a race designed purely for speed, especially since it’s billed as “The Fastest Two Minutes In Sports”, it’s actually one that lends itself to strategy, tact and patience.

    Magnum Moon appears to have none of those elements though he has the raw talent to become the eventual champion. It’s risky. Sort of like betting on the Philadelphia 76ers to win the NBA Championship this year. Young, raw, gifted. Just inexperienced and immature. It’s a tough sell at this price, but his odds are well justified.

    3. Mendelssohn – 9-2 to win 2018 Kentucky Derby
    4-1-0 and $1,961,137 in career earnings


    A lot of things stand out about Mendelssohn and they all have to do with the all mighty dollar. The first thing you’ll notice from this list is that Mendelssohn has won the most money. He’s also competed in 7 stakes competitions and won two races that were worth $1 million or more. So there’s that.

    The other standout fact about this horse is that he was purchased for an insane price of $3,000,000 by the triumvirate of Magnier-Tabor-Smith (who have money to throw around, but still). That is a ludicrous amount of money to pay for a yearling, or one-year-old. We’ve seen older horses fetch that price but after they’ve won big races and lots of them. It says a lot about what Mendelssohn’s current owners see in him.

    Mendelssohn also stands out because he shares the same father as Justify. Scat Daddy was unfortunately injured in the 2007 Kentucky Derby after going off as the third choice, and then retired but went on to become a top sire. His best batch seems to be this crop of three-year-olds, but Scat Daddy tragically passed away young at the age of 11 in 2015.

    Mendelssohn and Justify represent the best exacta you can buy in the 2018 Kentucky Derby, and I like Mendelssohn so much that I’m see-sawing on him as a straight up win bet. He won the UAE Derby in Dubai by a staggering 18 ½ lengths, which for perspectives stake is essentially almost the entire length of the home stretch. He’s very, very good and has proven that he shows up on race day.


    4. Bolt d’Oro – 5-1 to win 2018 Kentucky Derby
    4-1-1 and $1,016,000 in career earnings


    If you asked any horse player who the best horse amongst the future crop of three-year-olds was going to be, Bolt d’Oro was the answer. This colt emerged early out of Mick Ruis’s camp. He owns and trains the horse as a returning force after stepping away from the sport to find success in an independent construction business.

    Bolt d’Oro simply hasn’t shown up when it matters. He lost the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to Good Magic and wasn’t even able to prove that he was the best two-year-old last year. Then he was thrashed and dusted by Justify in the 2018 Santa Anita Derby. I like him as a show bet but nothing more, and truth be told, I don’t even like him that much overall.

    5. Good Magic – 7-1 to win 2018 Kentucky Derby
    2-2-1 and $1,855,000 in career earnings


    What will immediately stand out is that Good Magic has the second highest earnings heading in to the derby. He’s built that bank roll by winning the Blue Grass Stakes, which is worth a lot of money but doesn’t demand a strong field, and the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a longshot. As his record indicates, he’s a good horse but he’s inconsistent. On some days you get the best two-year-old in the country. On others, he finishes in the money but well off the pace. His odds may seem attractive, but most veterans who know the sport are wisely steering clear.

    6. Audible – 9-1 to win 2018 Kentucky Derby
    4-0-1 and $882,920 in career earnings


    Audible is as much of a threat to win this race as any of the other top contenders, and I would actually rate him higher than his odds suggest. He barn stormed the 2018 Kentucky Derby after opening his three-year-old campaign by decimating the highly regarded Holy Bull Stakes. Audible is really, really gifted. If you’re really going to try for a jackpot in this race then a trifecta with Justify-Mendelssohn-Audible is an incredibly powerful play. I’d expect his odds to drop significantly by the time the race goes off.

    After Audible, the odds drop off considerably. There are a few horses that are in the teens and a lot who are longshots. We’ll have a full posting of the “best bets” later this week, but now you know who the big names are. Perhaps the only bet you should invest in early is Justify and/or Mendelssohn because their odds will be pulverized by action heading in to the weekend.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Monomoy Girl is Kentucky Oaks favorite
    April 30, 2018


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Monomoy Girl is the early 2-1 favorite for the Kentucky Oaks but must do so from far outside if she is win the marquee race for 3-year-old fillies.

    Monomoy Girl drew the No. 14 post Monday and is one of three Brad Cox-trained entries in Friday's $1 million race at Churchill Downs. Monomoy Girl has five wins and a second in six career starts. She won the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 7.

    Cox clearly would have preferred a better draw in the 144th Oaks. Florent Geroux will make his sixth consecutive start aboard Monomoy Girl, who has won her past two races by a combined eight lengths.

    ''It is what it is. It's horse racing,'' said Cox, whose other Oaks fillies are Kelly's Humor and Sassy Sienna. ''Monomoy Girl is a good filly, and good horses overcome things. She's ready to run.''

    Midnight Bisou is the 5-2 second choice and will start from the No. 10 post. Trained by Bill Spawr, she is going for a fourth straight graded stakes win in 2018 beneath Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, including the Santa Anita Oaks.

    Co-owner Jeffrey Bloom believes Midnight Bisou is in the ''perfect'' spot.

    ''We weren't overly concerned about the post position,'' he said. ''We didn't want to have the 1 or the 2, didn't really want to have the extreme outside. I think it's a great opportunity for Mike Smith to be able to get comfortable in terms of letting the horses come out of there and seeing how the race unfolds.''

    Twelve other fillies drew double-digit odds in the 1 1/8-mile race. My Miss Lilly (No. 11 post) is at 10-1 while Coach Rocks and Chocolate Martini are at 12-1 and starting from the second and fourth posts.

    Sassy Sienna drew the rail and is 15-1 with Classy Act, Rayya, Take Charge Paula and Eskimo Kisses. Wonder Gadot is 20-1, with Kelly's Humor, Heavenhasmynikki and Patrona Margarita at 30-1.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Justify made 3/1 Kentucky Derby favorite
    May 1, 2018


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) ��� Bob Baffert had no chance to fret over the Kentucky Derby draw.

    By the time the Hall of Fame trainer managed to get into Churchill Downs, the process was halfway done and Justify had landed in the No. 7 post on Tuesday.

    "We didn't want the 1-hole, that's for sure," the four-time Derby winner said. "I was relieved when I saw him in seven."

    Justify was made the early 3-1 favorite for the Derby, with Europe-based Mendelssohn the second choice in a full field of 20 horses.

    Six horses have won from the No. 7 post, most recently Street Sense in 2007.

    "The only reason I'm the favorite is because I beat Bolt d'Oro and he was the horse to beat," said Baffert, referring to Justify's three-length win over his rival in the Santa Anita Derby last month.

    Justify is one of two horses in Saturday's 1¼-mile race who didn't race at age 2. The other is 6-1 third choice Magnum Moon. No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby after not racing as a 2-year-old.

    "I don't buy into the Apollo Curse or whatever at all, mainly because Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher have got the horses," four-time Derby-winning trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. "Todd's going to have his (horse) ready, and Baffert is going to have his."

    Justify is 3-0 in his brief career, winning by a combined 19 lengths. Magnum Moon is 4-0, winning the Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes in his last two starts.

    "It's one of the toughest Derbies I've ever seen," Baffert said. "All the important horses got good draws."

    More history is working against Mendelssohn. A horse coming from Europe has never won America's biggest race. Trained by Irishman Aidan O'Brien, UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn is the 5-1 second choice. He drew the No. 14 post.

    O'Brien wasn't at the draw and Mendelssohn won't hit the Churchill Downs dirt strip until Wednesday after clearing quarantine. The colt arrived Monday from Ireland.

    Pletcher has a leading four horses in the field: Magnum Moon, 8-1 Audible, 12-1 Vino Rosso and 30-1 Noble Indy. He surpassed Lukas, his mentor, this year as the trainer with the most starters in Derby history with 52.

    Pletcher won last year with Always Dreaming.

    The main starting gate holds 14 horses and a six-stall auxiliary gate is attached. Horses are loaded into the gate two at a time, beginning with posts one and 11, which spend the most time waiting for the start.

    "Having three of the four horses in the auxiliary gate wasn't what we were hoping for," Pletcher said. "Sometimes you can work out good trips from out there. We've got four terrific riders."

    The co-fourth choices are 8-1: Audible and Bolt d'Oro.

    Bolt d'Oro has won four of six career starts for trainer and owner Mick Ruis. The colt drew the No. 11 post, which means he will be waiting the longest for the gate to open. Firenze Fire drew the dreaded No. 1 post and also will be standing the longest.

    "We're good," Ruis said. "Bolt is so well-minded that he doesn't work himself up."

    Baffert's other entry, 30-1 shot Solomini, drew the No. 17 post, which has never produced a Derby winner.

    Lukas, the 82-year-old Hall of Famer, has his 49th Derby starter in Bravazo. The colt is one of five 50-1 shots in the field. In that group is Lone Sailor, owned by Gayle Benson, the widow of the New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson.

    Bravazo is owned by Calumet Farm, which has won a leading eight Derbies but none since 1968 when Calumet's Forward Pass was declared the winner after Dancer's Image was disqualified because of a positive drug test.

    Seven horses were listed at 30-1 by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia: Free Drop Billy, Promises Fulfilled, Flameaway, My Boy Jack, Enticed, Solomini and Noble Indy.

    The Desormeaux brothers have teamed with My Boy Jack. Kent Desormeaux, a three-time Derby winner, will ride, while Keith Desormeaux does the training.

    The field is limited to the top 20 horses based on points earned in designated prep races.

    Twenty-one horses were entered. The 21st horse on the points list is Blended Citizen, who would need a defection by early Friday morning to get into the 144th edition of the race.

    If all 20 horses start, the total purse would be $2,192,000. The winner earns $1,432,000. Post time is 6:46 p.m. EDT.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    2018 KENTUCKY DERBY ODDS

    Post Position Horse Trainer Jockey ML Odds

    1 Firenze Fire Jason Servis Paco Lopez 50/1

    2 Free Drop Billy Dale Romans Robby Albarado 30/1

    3 Promises Fulfilled Dale Romans Corey Lanerie 30/1

    4 Flameaway Mark Casse Jose Lezcano 30/1

    5 Audible Todd Pletcher Javier Castellano 8/1

    6 Good Magic Chad Brown Jose Ortiz 12/1

    7 Justify Bob Baffert Mike Smith 3/1

    8 Lone Sailor Thomas Amoss James Graham 50/1

    9 Hofburg William Mott Irad Ortiz Jr. 20/1

    10 My Boy Jack Keith Desormeaux Kent Desormeaux 30/1

    11 Bolt d'Oro Mike Ruis Victor Ezpinoza 8/1

    12 Enticed Kiaran McLaughlin Junior Alvarado 30/1

    13 Bravazo D. Wayne Lukas Luis Contreras 50/1

    14 Mendelssohn Aidan O'Brien Ryan Moore 5/1

    15 Instilled Regard Jerry Hollendorfer Drayden Van Dyke 50/1

    16 Magnum Moon Todd Pletcher Luis Saez 6/1

    17 Solomini Bob Baffert Flabvien Prat 30/1

    18 Vino Rosso Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 12/1

    19 Noble Indy Todd Pletcher Florent Goreoux 30/1

    20 Combatant Steve Asmussen Ricardo Santana Jr. 50/1


    * Morning Line Odds are created by Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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    Trainer Lukas savoring first Kentucky Derby berth since 2015
    May 2, 2018


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) The smile on D. Wayne Lukas' face shows how much he still loves what he's doing.

    The 82-year-old trainer Hall of Fame trainer is still going strong, and especially enjoys this week. Lukas is back in the Kentucky Derby for the first time since 2015 with colt Bravazo running on Saturday, which has the four-time winner savoring being part of horse racing's crown jewel.

    ''I probably enjoy it a little bit more now,'' said Lukas, who has earned more than $278 million lifetime and won 4,804 races, including 14 Triple Crown starts.

    ''I know that isn't going to go on forever and I enjoy the whole atmosphere. It's easier for me. The press conferences, everything, is a little easier. I've been there and know when to push and pull on that deal a little bit.''

    Lukas' return comes 30 years after his first Derby win with Winning Colors started an impressive run that included triumphs by Thunder Gulch (1995), Grindstone ('96) and Charismatic ('99).

    For Lukas' fellow horsemen, the comeback also seems to have added wholeness to this year's Derby.

    ''We need Wayne,'' said fellow Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, whom Lukas calls a good friend. ''Wayne is so important to this race because he always set the bar for me. I want to be where Wayne is.''

    Todd Pletcher, Lukas' onetime protege' who is on the verge of breaking his mentor's record of 48 Derby starters, said: ''The Derby is always better when Wayne's in it.''

    Lukas always believed he'd back in the Derby and said his gut feeling that some horses under his watch were not Derby-ready led him to be a race spectator. Although Bravazo ran eighth in the Louisiana Derby and is among four 50-1 longshots in Saturday's 20-horse Kentucky Derby field , the trainer views the colt's two wins before the Louisiana Derby as proof of his worthiness.

    Lukas is also motivated to give Calumet Farm its record ninth Derby winner and first since Forward Pass was awarded the win 50 years ago after Dancer's Image was disqualified for a failed postrace drug test.

    While Lukas noted that owners determine whether to run a horse, his experience and success carries weight in some decisions. History clearly seems to have factored in Bravazo's case, which is fitting for Calumet and Lukas since both have made their share of it in the Derby.

    ''You've got Calumet Farm, and it would be something to put them back out,'' Lukas added.

    The pairing of trainer and farm appears tailor made, but Lukas has maintained a physical and sentimental presence at Churchill Downs regardless of his participation in the marquee race.

    Lukas' barn is just off the second turn entering the track's backstretch is a required stop for horsemen, jockeys, media and spectators. The time away has fueled a give-back philosophy that has the octogenarian chatting up folks who drop by, and standing outside observing how the sport he loves hums along.

    Looking in on the Derby from outside allowed him to appreciate the race and evaluate the horses he hoped would put him back in the field. He has also enjoyed watching fellow trainers endure the same trial and error with pupils, as he did decades ago and now.

    Excited as Lukas is to be back with Bravazo, he is even more encouraged about the 2-year-old prospects he has coming up. The end of his career doesn't appear to be coming any time soon as the trainer in the wide-brimmed cowboy hat seems determined to remain a Derby fixture.

    Mindful of his age, Lukas said the caveat is how long he will be physically able to do the job. To see him atop his horse watching his latest Derby charge at work leaves no doubt about his energy or desire.

    ''You feel like you're blessed to have a career and nobody else is at that age to say that they're here,'' Lukas said. ''You reflect and say maybe if it's not this year, maybe next year, but there no guarantees there will be a next year.

    ''You reach out and take advantage of the whole thing if you're enjoying it that much.''


    ************************


    Baffert at Derby with another favorite
    May 2, 2018


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby with early favorite Justify after watching the race from his sofa in Southern California last year.

    The Hall of Fame trainer's ability to produce Derby contenders year after year is an enviable feat and why his absence a year ago stood out. It was just his second since 2009 and occurred because his lone candidate got hurt.

    Baffert will saddle Justify and 30-1 shot Solomini in Saturday's Derby.

    Justify is one of the greenest colts Baffert has brought to Churchill Downs. He's won all three of his starts by a combined 19 lengths. If Justify wins, he'd be the first to do so since Apollo in 1882 without racing as a 2-year-old.

    ''The thing about the Kentucky Derby, you have to have the right horse. It just happens. You can't force it,'' Baffert said. ''All of a sudden, you have good horses and you're there. So I've been really fortunate to have some really good horses.''

    Baffert's four victories are tied for second-most in Derby history. He's finished second three times, too, including in 2012 with Bodemeister, also the last time he had two starters in the same year.

    Like Justify, Bodemeister didn't race as a 2-year-old. He set a blistering pace and led the Derby until the final 150 yards when I'll Have Another overtook him to win by 1 + lengths.

    Magnum Moon, the 6-1 third choice, also is unbeaten and didn't run as a 2-year-old.

    ''It's going to happen,'' Baffert said, referring to the curse being broken. ''Whether it happens this year or whatever, but it will happen because Bodemeister almost got away with it. But I don't really worry about that.''

    Baffert almost had a third starter this year until McKinzie developed a hind end issue that knocked him off the Derby trail.

    ''When McKinzie got hurt, I wanted to throw up,'' he said. ''I really think McKinzie would probably be second choice here. We'd really have a 1-2 here.''

    Justify cleared the biggest pre-Derby hurdle by drawing the No. 7 post. Jockey Mike Smith can use the colt's early speed to position him well for the long run to the chaotic first turn. Solomini ended up in the No. 17 post; no horse has ever won from there.

    Baffert turned 65 in January, making him eligible for Medicare and retirement at most other jobs. However, he entertains no such thoughts.

    ''I work hard at it. I just don't give up,'' the white-haired trainer said. ''I'm constantly meeting people. They're sending me horses. If you don't have success, you're not going to get those opportunities.''

    After a successful run in the quarterhorse ranks, Baffert switched to thoroughbreds. He started with one horse.

    ''After 25 years, I'm finally getting horses that I don't have to buy,'' he said. ''The big guys are sending me horses.''

    None was bigger than American Pharoah in 2015. The colt swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become racing's first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

    Baffert has compared Justify to American Pharoah, citing the colt's imposing physical presence and big stride. Still, Justify has yet to encounter the kind of traffic the Derby's 20-horse stampede creates and the talent as he'll run against on Saturday.

    ''I'd rather have a really talented horse than one who's seasoned and just on par with the rest of them,'' Baffert said.

    Early on, Baffert knew Justify had the goods.

    ''The first time I worked him at Santa Anita, I knew he was a really good horse,'' he said. ''The track was really deep that morning, and he went around there effortlessly. His first race, he ran incredibly and showed how special he was.''

    That kind of intuition is what separates Baffert from his rivals, fellow Hall of Famer trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

    ''Bob's got a great feel for it,'' he said.
    Remember the 3 G's Gambling, Golf, Girls not in any particular order.....

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