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Horses: Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Horses: Kentucky Derby News and Notes 1 month 3 weeks ago #481632

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Betting news, trends, odds and predictions for Monday, April 30, 2018 from various handicappers and websites
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Horses: Kentucky Derby News and Notes 1 month 3 weeks ago #481633

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We have just a week left before the first Saturday in May, and this year’s Run for the Roses, the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby. All the prep races are finished and we have a good idea of who this year’s top Derby contenders are.
This year we go into the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby without a pre-eminent favorite. The entire field looks strong, but without a doubt, four top horses come to mind, with another five in a group of near-elite horses that are exceptionally accomplished.

Top Contenders

Justify 2 to 1
Justify is currently the 2-1 Kentucky Derby favorite. He beat Bolt d’Oro in the most anticipated prep race last weekend. He’s undefeated, and trained by Bob Baffert. He’s also ridden by Mike Smith — giving him an unbeatable résumé. Justify didn’t run as a 2-year-old, but with a trainer like Bob Baffert behind him, there’s no worries that the horse is lightly raced. Justify commanded the field in the Santa Anita Derby and showed real talent withstanding a challenge from the more experienced Bolt d’Oro. Will have to see how he does against even stiffer competition.

Audible: 8 to 1
Audible is a horse trained by Todd Pletcher who won the Florida Derby and looks set to peak at Churchill Downs. If that sounds like a repeat, your correct as that was the story for 2017 Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming. The horse has been right on this year, and has shown he can win big races by stalking the pace and by coming from behind. At 8 to 1 odds Audible might not be the top pick, but he certainly has the fans, and is following a familiar pattern to win Derby.

Mendelssohn: 5 to 1
Mendelssohn is trained by the Irishman Aidan O’Brien, who is one of the best in the world. International entrants are seldom treated as serious threats at Churchill Downs, but this horse could be the exception and certainly has the talent to win the Derby, maybe even make a run at the Triple Crown. Mendelssohn attracted a lot of focus with the 106 Beyer Speed Figure he earned for his March 31 race which he won (by 18½ lengths) in the UAE Derby.


Magnum Moon:7 to 1
Magnum Moon is another horse that did not run as a 2-year-old, but he’s now won four races this year, including an amazing effort in the March 17 Rebel Stakes. He won the Arkansas Derby to stamp his resume for Churchill Downs, and he lead easily at Oaklawn and was never threatened. Magnum Moon is trained by Todd Pletcher, and although his speed figures have been a touch below the best of the three horses above him, and he has not yet beaten the top runners like Bolt d’Oro, he definitely is among the elite in the Kentucky Derby field.

Bolt d’Oro: 8 to 1
Bolt d’Oro: This California contender is also at odds of 8 to 1 along with Audible. He finished third in the Juvenile, then second to McKinzie in the March 10 San Felipe Stakes, where he was pushed to first by a disqualification. He also finished second to Justify at Santa Anita, so it will be interesting to see how Bolt d’Oro runs against Justify in the longer race at Churchill Downs. He is trained by Mick Ruis who said Bolt d’Oro will be better at the Derby’s 1 1/4 miles distance.

Good Magic: 6 to 1
Good Magic’s odds may be a bit low for the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner. In his first race as a 3-year-old, the March 3 Fountain of Youth Stakes he finished third, but he got a solid win last Saturday in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, even though the Blue Grass did not have the highest level of competition of the prep races. However, Chad Brown does do an excellent job of training his horses for the biggest races.

Vino Rosso:10 to 1
Vino Rosso at odds of 10 to 1, is another Todd Pletcher trained contender in the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, and no one’s better than Pletcher at preparing his horses for the Derby. Vino Rosso won his entrance to the Derby with an upset victory over Enticed in Saturday’s Wood Memorial. His 3-year-old campaign started slowly and it looked as if he may not make the Derby, but Pletcher felt this horse had talent and that he would be a better runner at longer distances. Coincidently, Vino Rosso is co-owned by last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming’s co-owner, Vinnie Viola

Noble Indy: 30 to 1
The fourth contender in Todd Pletcher’s Kentucky Derby quartet is Noble Indy. HE won the March 24 Louisiana Derby showing great spirit taking the race by a neck, but again, the Louisiana did not have the highest level of competition of the prep races. His owners did express some concern however over his race day demeanor, so we’ll see how he behaves in the biggest test of them all.

Enticed: 12 to 1
Enticed is at pretty low odds for a horse that got outrun by Vino Rosso in the the Wood Memorial . Enticed is trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, but his speed figures say he can’t hang with the top contenders in the Kentucky Derby, and he also faces questions about how well he’ll handle the distance at Churchill.
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Horses: Kentucky Derby News and Notes 1 month 2 weeks ago #481743

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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.
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Horses: Kentucky Derby News and Notes 1 month 2 weeks ago #481744

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VSIN will be releasing a $20 derby issue tomorrow
Their regular weekly issue should also be out tomorrow
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Horses: Kentucky Derby News and Notes 1 month 2 weeks ago #481949

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I’m sure there’s a lot of you out there who have a vague idea of how to bet on horse racing. Well, I’m here to give you the rundown and offer some helpful structures to make sure you stretch your money as best as you can. Remember, the beauty about horse racing is that you can place multiple bets on a single race which invites the ability to hedge, and cross-bet as you need to.

TYPES OF HORSE BETS

First things first are the straight bets, which are single outcome wagers on horse finishing first (win), top-2 (place) or top-3 (show). That’s as easy as it gets. The show bet pays out less than the win bet because it reduces the risk of failure but still makes an admirable wager if you can leverage a strong play. The win bet is by far the favorite of the bunch because everyone loves picking the outright winner. The more you bet, the more money you make. Simple as that.

Next up are exotic bets, and this is where a little can go a country mile in horse racing. There are essentially two versions of three bets that you need to know:

Exacta – Pick 2 horses that finish 1st, 2nd in exact order
Trifecta – Pick 3 horses that finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd in exact order
Superfecta – Pick 4 horse that finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th in exact order

The beauty of these bets is that you can also “box” them. An example of a trifecta box would be picking three or more horses that finish top-3 in no particular order. Boxing is a great, built-in hedge. An exacta box with three horses (where you basically bet on any of the three finishing 1st and 2nd) is my favorite go-to bet overall at the track.

Since payouts are dependent on the odds of horses involved when it comes to exotic bets, there’s no exact way to tell you how much these things will win. The easiest way to remember this is that the more precise your wager is the more it pays out. So if you pick a superfecta and hit, you are looking at a huge sum of money coming your way. A superfecta box is more expensive to pay for, since it has more combinations of bets, but it has sufficient insulation given your choices.

Parlays are long discussed as a sucker’s bet, but I have made a significant amount of money by playing spreads and totals in combined fashion. You just have to know where to find value. The BetOnline.ag bet slip calculator will help show you your potential earnings and risk as you build out your bet so that’s a big aid for you as well.

Confessedly, there are a ton of betting options when it comes to exotics but they get a bit complicated as they get more involved. I’m trying to keep this streamlined for the novice horse bettor. Even the savvy horse player likes to keep things simple so don’t feel like you’re missing out by skipping wheel bets and Pick 3’s. You can figure those out once you’re a bit more entrenched in the sport.

Now, let’s get on to the picks for the 2018 Kentucky Derby!


The Big Money Winner – Trifecta on No. 7 Justify, No. 14 Mendelssohn, No. 5 Audible
To make things clear, if you’re going to be betting on these races at a simulcast or at Churchill Downs itself the proper lingo is “Race 12, Trifecta on 7, 14, 5” as you are indicating the exact order of the horses and the type of bet.

Justify and Mendelssohn have long been considered the two best horses in this race, and they’re being tracked by handicappers intently. Both are seldom run in the United States, but what we have seen from them indicates a vicious amount of talent. The Kentucky Derby has tended to favor the horses at the top of the order. We haven’t seen a major upset since 2011 when Animal Kingdom won as a 30/1 longshot.

The sport has simply become more dialed in. Always Dreaming won in 2017 as a second choice, but he should have been the favorite. We frankly don’t know much about these horses in general as they’re so young, but Justify and Mendelssohn clearly grade out as the best and both are being ridden by the best jockey’s in the world.

Audible is a strong 8/1 choice who has Javier Castellano in the saddle. Both are really strong, and if this race has the potential to go chalk, then a trifecta on the top three choices is the obvious route. Horse racing is full of upsets, but I have a very strong feeling that these three will put on a show at Churchill Downs on Saturday.

If adding the third horse in to this wager makes it too risky for your blood, pare it down to an exacta on Justify and Mendelssohn.

Safest Exotic Payday – Exacta Box on No. 7 Justify, No. 14 Mendelssohn
With an Exacta Box, you’re basically making two bets at once: 7/14 in that order or 14/7 in that order so a $10 wager would be two separate $5 wagers. It’s basically a time saving mechanism at the window. I just seriously have it on for these horses and so does every handicapper in the book.

The Best Longshot – Win Bet on No.19 Noble Indy
There are a few longshots in this race that have curried serious favor through some fine performances. This highly rated Take Charge Indy colt is more of an outright sprinter, but is one of four horses trained by the living legend Todd Pletcher featured in the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

What I like about him is the rebound effort the showed in winning a pretty competitive 2018 Louisiana Derby. Streaming from a wide post, Noble Indy has the speed to get out in front and may have the endurance to stay there. The only other longshot I like is My Boy Jack, who is also 30/1 alongside Noble Indy. What I would do is follow the money with both of these horses. Whomever has the bigger positive shift on Saturday afternoon prior to the race is the go-to for a standalone win bet.

Best Hedge Bets – No. 7 Justify or No 16 Mangum Moon
Justify is probably going to win this race, but we’ve seen a bevvy of proper upsets in the important races this year. Magnum Moon is an intriguing character because he seems to have the most god given potential but lacks the experience and discipline to harness it. A lot of people are high on him, so mentioning him here is my tip of the cap to those people. A place bet on either offers you a bit of insurance if the race doesn’t go the way your exotic plays were designed for.

Make no mistake – this is Justify’s race to lose. The 2018 Kentucky Derby can’t get here fast enough. Do yourself a favor and broaden your betting horizon with some incredibly fun wallet spreading around these bets. This is simply an event you want action on.
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Horses: Kentucky Derby News and Notes 1 month 2 weeks ago #482016

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With the 144th Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve just around the corner, it’s time to brush up on this year’s field for the first jewel of the Triple Crown at Churchill Downs.

Whether you are interested in making a couple of bucks on the race or just want to know a little bit about this year’s runners, we’ve got you covered with our 2018 Kentucky Derby Cheat Sheet. The contenders are listed in post-position order with morning-line odds.

Check out more horse racing betting analysis and insight at America's Best Racing.

1. Firenze Fire (50-1)

Jockey: Paco Lopez
Trainer: Jason Servis
Owner: Mr. Amore Stables
Career record: 9 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $669,100
Earnings per start: $74,344
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 98
Kentucky Derby points: 39
Pedigree: Poseidon’s Warrior – My Every Wish, by Langfuhr
Color: Bay
Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: A multiple graded stakes winner last fall at age two, this colt started off 2018 by winning the one-mile Jerome Stakes but since then has finished second, fourth, and fourth in subsequent Kentucky Derby preps. In his two most recent starts, the Gotham Stakes and the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets, he was defeated by a combined margin of 20 1/4 lengths. In his only start longer than a mile in 2017, he finished seventh in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, 20 lengths behind Good Magic. All evidence points to Firenze Fire being a stakes-caliber miler who is lacking the stamina to compete in the Triple Crown races, and his pedigree is one of the most sprint-oriented in this year’s Derby field, although there are a few good routers such as Preakness winner Shackleford in his dam’s (mother’s) family tree. Drawing the inside post in a 20-horse field did him no favors, but he is a closer, so perhaps he can fashion a clean trip along the rail similar to last year's runner-up from the 1-hole, Lookin At Lee. This will be the first Derby appearance for jockey Paco Lopez, trainer Jason Servis, and owner Ron Lombardi’s Mr. Amore Stable.

2. Free Drop Billy (30-1)

Jockey: Robby Albarado
Trainer: Dale Romans
Owner: Albaugh Family Stables
Career record: 8 starts – 2 wins – 3 seconds – 2 thirds
Career earnings: $625,220
Earnings per start: $78,153
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 102
Kentucky Derby points: 44
Pedigree: Union Rags – Trensa, by Giant’s Causeway
Color: Chestnut
Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After burnishing his credentials as one of the best 2-year-olds in 2017, this well-bred colt has not taken the next step at age three, crossing the finish line second, third, and fourth in his three Kentucky Derby preps. He was elevated to third from fourth in his last start, the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, but was no threat to winner Good Magic. He can be counted on to make up some ground in the stretch with a consistent, grinding run, but his overall speed figures this year don’t measure up with the top level of Kentucky Derby contenders. One positive note is his pedigree, which should serve him well in the mile-and-a-quarter Derby. His sire, Union Rags, won the 2012 Belmont Stakes, and his half-brother Hawkbill (same dam [mother], different sire) is a top-class turf performer at long distances. Dale Romans’ Kentucky Derby highlights are recounted in Promises Fulfilled’s profile. Jockey Robby Albarado was aboard Curlin when that eventual two-time Horse of the Year finished third in the 2007 Derby; he also finished second aboard Golden Soul in 2013 and third on Steppenwolfer in 2006. This will mark the third consecutive year Dennis Albaugh’s family operation has a Kentucky Derby starter; they campaigned Brody’s Cause (seventh) in 2016 and J Boys Echo (15th) last year.

3. Promises Fulfilled (30-1)

Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Trainer: Dale Romans
Owner: Robert J. Baron
Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $337,280
Earnings per start: $67,456
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 115
Kentucky Derby points: 52
Pedigree: Shackleford – Marquee Delivery, by Marquetry
Color: Chestnut
Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This son of 2011 Preakness Stakes winner Shackleford projects to be the pacesetter in the 144th run for the roses as he attempts to resurrect his career-best form displayed in the March 3 Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes. In that race at Gulfstream Park, he shot out to the early lead and was not seriously challenged in a gate-to-wire 2 ¼-length win. But in his next start, the March 31 Xpressbet Florida Derby, he was pressured early and often by Strike Power and faded badly to finish ninth, beaten by 35 lengths. This year’s Kentucky Derby is full of horses that can either set the pace or press it, which makes this colt’s win chances on May 5 slim, given that he hasn’t shown the ability to win in any other way than by racing on the lead. On the positive side, he did break his maiden first-out at Churchill Downs last September, and ran well when finishing third after setting the pace in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill in November. Louisville native Dale Romans’ best Kentucky Derby finish to date is third, accomplished with Paddy O’ Prado in 2010 and Dullahan in 2012. Churchill Downs-based jockey Corey Lanerie piloted Lookin At Lee to a runner-up finish in last year’s Derby. Promises Fulfilled is Robert Baron’s first Kentucky Derby starter.

4. Flameaway (30-1)

Jockey: Jose Lezcano
Trainer: Mark Casse
Owner: John Oxley
Career record: 9 starts – 5 wins – 2 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $704,834
Earnings per start: $78,315
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106
Kentucky Derby points: 70
Pedigree: Scat Daddy – Vulcan Rose, by Fusaichi Pegasus
Color: Chestnut
Running style: Pacesetter/press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: One of four Kentucky Derby contenders sired by the late Scat Daddy along with Justify, Mendelssohn, and Combatant, this colt who races for elite connections has the most versatile résumé in the field with wins on fast and wet dirt tracks, on turf, and on a synthetic track. He ran well to finish eighth, beaten only by 3 ¼ lengths, in his final start at two in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, and then won his first two starts earlier this year in a turf stakes race at Gulfstream Park and then the Sam F. Davis Stakes on dirt at Tampa Bay Downs. Since then, he’s reaffirmed that he’s one of the hardest-competing horses of his age group by finishing second to Quip in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby (after a rough start) and then second again to Good Magic in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. The major drawback when assessing his race record is stamina: does he have enough to keep battling through a mile and a quarter? Trainer Mark Casse may instruct Jose Lezcano to wrest the lead in the Derby from probable early front-runner Promises Fulfilled somewhere in the middle of the backstretch, but at any rate, he’ll be among the front group as long as he can last. Casse’s best finish with five Kentucky Derby horses so far came last year when John Oxley’s Classic Empire checked in a troubled fourth. Lezcano finished second in the 2010 Derby aboard Ice Box, his best showing from five appearances. Oxley has sent six horses to the Derby, led by 2001 winner Monarchos who finished the classic in the second-fastest time in history.

5. Audible (8-1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owners: China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm
Career record: 5 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $882,920
Earnings per start: $176,584
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 111
Kentucky Derby points: 110
Pedigree: Into Mischief – Blue Devil Bel, by Gilded Time
Color: Bay
Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After finishing third in his debut last fall at Belmont Park, this colt has won four consecutive races by a total of 20 lengths – and looked better with each outing. He won two one-mile races at Aqueduct with ease and then impressed in two of Gulfstream Park’s three Kentucky Derby preps, taking the Holy Bull Stakes in February by 5 ½ lengths and then drawing clear for three-length score in the Xpressbet Florida Derby on March 31. Questions about his pedigree may linger, as sire Into Mischief has yet to bring a true mile-and-a quarter Derby horse, but this Todd Pletcher trainee has passed the “eye test” with flying colors this spring and could be one of the best value plays in the Derby field at odds of 8-1 or higher. Pletcher’s Derby record is discussed in Magnum Moon’s profile. Four-time Eclipse Award winner Javier Castellano has surprisingly failed to finish in the top three in 11 prior Derby appearances, his best showing coming aboard fourth-place Normandy Invasion in 2013. Sol Kumin’s Head of Plains Partners also owns part of Justify, and his group Monomoy Stables co-owns My Boy Jack; he was also among the owners of 2016 Derby runner-up Exaggerator. This will be the first Derby appearance for co-owner and new major player in the horse world China Horse Club International, which also owns part of Justify.

6. Good Magic (12-1)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Trainer: Chad Brown
Owners: e Five Racing Thoroughbreds and Stonestreet Stables
Career record: 5 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $1,855,000
Earnings per start: $371,000
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109
Kentucky Derby points: 134
Pedigree: Curlin – Glinda the Good, by Hard Spun
Color: Chestnut
Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: It is a testament to the quality and depth of this year’s Kentucky Derby field that the reigning champion 2-year-old male could bring post-time odds in the neighborhood of 10-1. After dazzling last November with a breakthrough 4 ¼-length win in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, he spent the winter as one of the top two or three future-book Kentucky Derby choices, but lost some support after returning to finish third in the March 3 Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes. He then rebounded with a workmanlike 1 ½-length score in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes on April 4, where he showed the same professional stalk-and-pounce running style that brought him a Breeders’ Cup win. Other horses enter the Derby with more buzz, and arguably more upside, but this well-bred son of Curlin has yet to finish out of the money and should be positioned to make a strong run through the far turn into contention if he gets a clean trip. He’s trained and ridden by reigning Eclipse Award winners Chad Brown and Jose Ortiz, both of whom seek their first Kentucky Derby win. Ortiz has made three previous Derby appearances, most recently with last year’s sixth-place finisher – and eventual Belmont Stakes winner – Tapwrit. Brown has sent four horses to the Derby in recent years, and his best finish came with his first-ever starter, fourth-place Normandy Invasion in 2013. This is the first Derby appearance for Bob and Kristine Edwards’ e Five Racing Thoroughbreds; co-owner Stonestreet Stables bought into Curlin’s ownership group shortly before that future star ran third in the 2007 Derby.

7. Justify (3-1)

Jockey: Mike Smith
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owners: China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm
Career record: 3 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $666,000
Earnings per start: $222,000
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 108
Kentucky Derby points: 100
Pedigree: Scat Daddy – Stage Magic, by Ghostzapper
Color: Chestnut
Running style: Pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: In what appears on paper to be one of the most well-matched and competitive Kentucky Derby fields in recent years, this West Coast sensation has captured a great deal of attention over the past weeks following a meteoric rise that puts Apollo’s curse in serious danger. Making his first start on Feb. 18 at Santa Anita Park, this physically striking son of Scat Daddy romped by 9 ½ lengths. Stretched out from seven-eighths of a mile to a mile going two turns in his next start, he dominated again, this time by 6 ½ lengths. Those two starts were against questionable opposition, but his next one was not. Derby contender and Grade 1 winner Bolt d’Oro and Lecomte Stakes winner Instilled Regard both tested Justify in the Santa Anita Derby, but proved no match as he led all the way and won by three lengths. Now, 19 horses await in Louisville in what will be a far-sterner test for him, and it will be interesting to see where Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith places his mount during what is always a mad rush to the first turn where split-second decisions can either enhance or doom a horse’s chances to win. Smith’s only Kentucky Derby win came aboard 50.30-1 longshot Giacomo in 2005; he’s also finished second four times in 21 total starts (Prairie Bayou in 1993; Proud Citizen in 2002; Lion Heart in 2004; Bodemeister in 2012). Bob Baffert is in a three-way tie for second among all trainers with four Kentucky Derby wins (Silver Charm in 1997; Real Quiet in 1998; War Emblem in 2002; American Pharoah in 2015) and he’s also finished second three times and third three times. See Noble Indy’s profile for WinStar Farm’s Derby record, and Audible’s profile for information about Head of Plains Partners’ Derby history and China Horse Club’s emergence. Jack and Laurie Wolf’s Starlight Stable has owned part of several Derby horses in years past, but their best finish came with seventh-place Harlan’s Holiday, whom they owned outright, in 2002.

8. Lone Sailor (50-1)

Jockey: James Graham
Trainer: Tom Amoss
Owner: G M B Racing
Career record: 8 starts – 1 win – 3 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $334,237
Earnings per start: $41,780
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106
Kentucky Derby points: 42
Pedigree: Majestic Warrior – Ambitious, by Mr. Greeley
Color: Bay
Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This off-the-pace runner put together the best performance in his career in his most recent race when second to Noble Indy in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby. He rallied in the stretch to duel with that foe and briefly led, but could not close the deal and lost by a neck. Aside from his career debut last summer and his 3-year-old debut in the Lecomte Stakes, he’s made up ground with late-closing moves in all of his other starts, even if he still only has one win and three seconds on his résumé. He’ll need to repeat his Louisiana Derby effort and some racing luck to have a shot at hitting the board in the Kentucky Derby. Tom Amoss has trained five Kentucky Derby horses in prior years, with his best finish coming when Mylute checked in fifth in 2013. G M B Racing, the racing operation for Gayle and the late Tom Benson, sent eighth-place Mo Tom and 12th-place Tom’s Ready to the 2016 Derby. James Graham, who rode Lone Sailor in the Louisiana Derby, will be making his first start in the Kentucky Derby.

9. Hofburg (20-1)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.
Trainer: Bill Mott
Owner: Juddmonte Farms
Career record: 3 starts – 1 win – 1 second – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $227,950
Earnings per start: $75,983
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107
Kentucky Derby points: 40
Pedigree: Tapit – Soothing Touch, by Touch Gold
Color: Chestnut
Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt has the least racing experience in the Derby field with only three career starts, but he has flashed exciting potential this year and is an intriguing under-the-radar horse. He made his career debut back in September at Saratoga, finishing fourth in a seven-furlong maiden race, and then was away for six months before gamely winning a 1 1/16-mile maiden race on the Xpressbet Fountain of Youth Stakes undercard at Gulfstream Park. His elite connections decided to make a big class jump by starting him in the Xpressbet Florida Derby, and Hofburg validated that choice by posting a solid runner-up finish behind Audible, hitting the wire 7 ¾ lengths clear of third-place finisher Mississippi. Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott rarely brings 3-year-olds to the Kentucky Derby and is renowned for patiently developing his charges, so this colt’s presence under the Twin Spires on the first Saturday in May indicates just how highly Juddmonte Farms and Mott think of him. His pedigree is suitable to the Derby’s mile-and-a-quarter distance, as well, since his sire Tapit has already been represented by three Belmont Stakes winners and on his dam’s (mother’s) side, he’s a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire) to multiple Grade 1-winning router Emollient. Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte has not sent a horse to the Kentucky Derby since 2003, when Empire Maker finished second to Funny Cide, and in 2000, Juddmonte-owned Aptitude was runner-up to Fusaichi Pegasus. Mott has trained seven Kentucky Derby horses, most recently 12th-place Hold Me Back in 2009. Irad Ortiz Jr. will be making his third start in the Kentucky Derby.

10. My Boy Jack (30-1)

Jockey: Kent Desormeaux
Trainer: Keith Desormeaux
Owners: Don’t Tell My Wife Stables, Monomoy Stable, and West Point Thoroughbreds
Career record: 10 starts – 3 wins – 3 seconds – 2 thirds
Career earnings: $645,145
Earnings per start: $64,515
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106
Kentucky Derby points: 52
Pedigree: Creative Cause – Gold N Shaft, by Mineshaft
Color: Dark bay or brown
Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Based on his last three starts, this colt looms as a live longshot and a must-use horse for trifectas and superfectas as arguably the best stone-cold closer in the Kentucky Derby field. After racing on turf for five straight starts to finish his 2-year-old campaign in 2017 with some success, he was switched to dirt by trainer Keith Desormeaux and finished third behind McKinzie and All Out Blitz in the Jan. 6 Sham Stakes. Since then, he’s rallied to win the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, finish third in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, and then won the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes at Keeneland to get in the Derby field. If he can continue to take his race with him to Churchill Downs, he should have enough pace in front to set up his kick through the lane. Having a Hall of Fame rider with decades of Derby experience does not hurt either. Kent Desormeaux won the Derby in 1998 with Real Quiet, in 2000 with Fusaichi Pegasus, and in 2008 with Big Brown. He’s also finished second once and third four times. Keith Desormeaux trained Exaggerator to a runner-up finish behind Nyquist in the 2016 Derby with brother Kent riding. See Audible’s profile for information about Monomoy Stables (Sol Kumin), who also co-own Longines Kentucky Oaks likely favorite Monomoy Girl. West Point Thoroughbreds was co-owner of 2017 Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming. My Boy Jack is the first Kentucky Derby starter for Don’t Tell My Wife Stables.

11. Bolt d’Oro (8-1)

Jockey: Victor Espinoza
Trainer: Mick Ruis
Owner: Ruis Racing
Career record: 6 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 1 third
Career earnings: $1,016,000
Earnings per start: $169,333
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 118
Kentucky Derby points: 104
Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro – Globe Trot, by A.P. Indy
Color: Bay
Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt has been one of the future-book favorites for the Kentucky Derby since last fall. He’s shown admirable consistency in his six-race career, and had a legitimate wide-trip excuse for his third-place showing in the Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, the only time he’s finished worse than second. That being said, it must be noted that he hasn’t crossed the finish line first in his most recent three starts, as he was elevated to winner of the March 10 San Felipe Stakes after McKinzie was disqualified. Next out in the Santa Anita Derby, he gave a good effort when second to Justify but never really challenged that foe, losing by three lengths. He has proven form, a good pedigree for route races, and gets the services of three-time Kentucky Derby-winning rider Victor Espinoza (War Emblem, 2002; California Chrome, 2014; American Pharoah, 2015), which certainly boosts his chances come May 5. With a clean trip, he should be rolling into contention from midpack as the field turns for home. This will be owner-trainer Mick Ruis’ first appearance in the Kentucky Derby.

12. Enticed (30-1)

Jockey: Junior Alvarado
Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin
Owner: Godolphin
Career record: 6 starts – 3 firsts – 1 second – 1 third
Career earnings: $595,680
Earnings per start: $99,280
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 113
Kentucky Derby points: 103
Pedigree: Medaglia d’Oro – It’s Tricky, by Mineshaft
Color: Dark bay or brown
Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Godolphin Stables homebred enters the Kentucky Derby off of a runner-up finish to Vino Rosso in the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets where he was solidly bumped in midstretch. He fell back after that, losing by three lengths, but was still well clear of third-place Restoring Hope in a solid effort that should make him an intriguing longshot play in the Kentucky Derby. His pedigree for the Derby’s classic distance is one of the best in the field, and he owns a win over Churchill Downs’ main track coming in last fall’s Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, which featured four horses (five before the connections of Quip opted to target the Preakness) that ended up in this year’s Derby. On the negative side, his speed figures are a cut below the top contenders in this year’s classic, and his best career race, by far, came in the one-turn mile Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct on March 3, one race before his Wood Memorial start. The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Closing Argument almost won the 2005 Kentucky Derby at 71.60-1 odds but was outfinished by Giacomo. The best finish for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s Godolphin in 10 prior Derby tries came in 2015, when Frosted (also trained by McLaughlin) finished fourth. Jockey Junior Alvarado makes his second appearance in the Derby after finishing fourth aboard Mohaymen in 2016.

13. Bravazo (50-1)

Jockey: Luis Contreras
Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas
Owner: Calumet Farm
Career record: 8 starts – 3 wins – 1 second – 1 third
Career earnings: $436,528
Earnings per start: $54,566
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 110
Kentucky Derby points: 54
Pedigree: Awesome Again – Tiz o’ Gold, by Cee’s Tizzy
Color: Dark bay or brown
Running style: Press the pace

Notable achievements and interesting facts: After two wins to start 2018, including a game nose win in the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford, this Calumet Farm-owned colt turned in puzzlingly poor performance in the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby, finishing eighth and beaten by 21 ¼ lengths. In that race, he traveled four wide through the backstretch in a stalking position, went even wider entering the far turn, and then folded. His prior two wins as a 3-year-old came after he closely pressed the pace, but he settled farther back in the Louisiana Derby and that may have cost him. This colt has shown in races such as the Risen Star and last fall’s Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity (in which he finished second) that he deserves to be in the Kentucky Derby field, but he also has failed to show up in a few races, which is a concern. Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Derby four times in his storied career: Winning Colors in 1988; Thunder Gulch in 1995; Grindstone in 1996; and Charismatic in 1999. This will be Luis Contreras' second appearance in the Derby. Calumet Farm leads all owners in Kentucky Derby wins with eight, including Triple Crown winners Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948). All of those came before current Calumet Farm lessee Brad Kelley took over the farm, which sent three horses to the Derby last year in Sonneteer, Hence, and Patch.

14. Mendelssohn (5-1)

Jockey: Ryan Moore
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien
Owners: Michael B. Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick Smith
Career record: 7 starts – 4 wins – 1 second – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $1,961,137
Earnings per start: $280,162
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109
Kentucky Derby points: 100
Pedigree: Scat Daddy – Leslie’s Lady, by Tricky Creek
Color: Bay
Running style: Press the pace/pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This horse is the true wild card for handicappers this year when analyzing what’s always one of, if not the, most difficult races to sort out and wager on. He ships stateside on the back of a pulverizing 18 ½-length win in the United Arab Emirates Derby Sponsored by Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group on March 31, where he took command of the race early in the backstretch and simply routed his opponents. That was his first career start on dirt, and was preceded by a win in England on a synthetic track and then last November’s score in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar, a visually impressive performance. Among Kentucky Derby starters, he brought the highest price at auction, purchased by his Coolmore connections for $3 million at the 2016 Keeneland September yearling sale, and as you might guess, that price is evident of a superior pedigree. His dam (mother) also produced Mendelssohn’s half-sister Beholder, a champion and future Hall of Famer who won the 1 ¼-mile Pacific Classic in 2015; and half-brother Into Mischief, a Grade 1 winner and sire of Kentucky Derby contender Audible. With all of these credentials, he shapes up as the most threatening overseas invader to win the Kentucky Derby of this century. A key question looms large: breaking from the last post in the main gate against a larger and higher-quality Derby field, will jockey Ryan Moore ride Mendelssohn as aggressively as he did in the Dubai desert? If so, that may put pressure on horses such as Justify and Magnum Moon to contest the pace earlier than their connections may prefer. Moore has one previous appearance in the Derby, riding Lines of Battle to a seventh-place finish in 2013. Aidan O’Brien’s best Derby finish in five tries came with fifth-place Master of Hounds in 2011. Coolmore-affiliated Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier, and Derrick Smith have been regular presences in Kentucky Derbys over the past 20-plus years in various ownership entities. Tabor and Smith’s Lion Heart finished second to Smarty Jones in 2004, and Tabor enjoyed his first major success in 1995 as the sole owner of Derby winner Thunder Gulch.

15. Instilled Regard (50-1)

Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Trainer: Jerry Hollendorfer
Owner: OXO Equine
Career record: 7 starts – 2 wins – 2 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $294,000
Earnings per start: $42,000
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106
Kentucky Derby points: 29
Pedigree: Arch – Enhancing, by Forestry
Color: Dark bay or brown
Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This California-based colt will need to step up his game considerably to be a factor in the Kentucky Derby. He emerged last year with an eye-catching maiden win at Santa Anita Park in his third career start and then strung together back-to-back strong stakes performances in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity (where he was placed second after Solomini was disqualified) and in the Lecomte Stakes. His 3 ¼-length score in the Lecomte after being shipped to Fair Grounds placed him among the leading Kentucky Derby contenders for a few weeks, but he subsequently turned in a disappointing fourth-place showing in the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford and then finished fourth again in the Santa Anita Derby while posing no threat to the top three horses. Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has been to the Derby with six horses, and his best finish came last year when Battle of Midway held on for third. This will be the first Kentucky Derby for Lawrence Best’s OXO Equine, and also the first for up-and-coming young California jockey Drayden Van Dyke.

16. Magnum Moon (8-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owners: Robert and Lawana Low
Career record: 4 starts – 4 wins – 0 seconds – 0 thirds
Career earnings: $1,177,800
Earnings per start: $294,450
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 109
Kentucky Derby points: 150
Pedigree: Malibu Moon – Dazzling Song, by Unbridled’s Song
Color: Bay
Running style: Press the pace/pacesetter

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Along with Justify, this colt will put the “curse of Apollo” to the sternest test this year since Curlin started in the 2007 Kentucky Derby (with apologies to 2012 Derby runner-up Bodemeister). He broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 13 by 4 ½ furlongs in a six-furlong race, and has not been challenged in three subsequent starts, stretching out in distance each time. He drew away from talented horses Quip and Solomini with ease in the Arkansas Derby, winning by four lengths despite drifting to the center of the track in midstretch while continuing to run strongly through the finish line. This son of Malibu Moon (who is the sire of 2013 Derby winner Orb) may have more maturing to do before reaching his full potential, but his best race on May 5 still could be enough to place him in the Derby winner’s circle. Todd Pletcher, who is currently tied with D. Wayne Lukas with the most Kentucky Derby starters at 48, brings a loaded arsenal to Churchill Downs, giving him a great chance to score a Derby repeat after winning last year with Always Dreaming. That was his second Derby win after Super Saver broke through in 2010. Magnum Moon will be Luis Saez’s sixth Derby starter, and the second for owners Lawana and Robert Low. Their colt Steppenwolfer finished third in Barbaro’s 2006 Kentucky Derby.

17. Solomini (30-1)

Jockey: Flavien Prat
Trainer: Bob Baffert
Owners: Zayat Stables, Susan Magnier, Michael B. Tabor and Derrick Smith
Career record: 6 starts – 1 first – 3 seconds – 2 thirds
Career earnings: $752,000
Earnings per start: $125,333
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 107
Kentucky Derby points: 54
Pedigree: Curlin – Surf Song, by Storm Cat
Color: Chestnut
Running style: Stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This well-bred colt co-owned by Zayat Stables enters the Kentucky Derby after finishing third behind Magnum Moon and Quip in the Arkansas Derby, a race in which he unfortunately continued to show immaturity and erratic racing action. In that race, he failed to switch leads in the stretch and could not overtake pace-pressing Quip, who held second by a neck. He’s gone up against several of the best horses in his age group since last fall — and in six career starts, he’s finished no worse than third, one of those coming when disqualified from first in the Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity for bumping in deep stretch. But it’s a major concern as to how he’ll fare when racing in heavy traffic against 19 other horses in the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Flavien Prat made his Kentucky Derby debut a successful one last year when riding Battle of Midway to a third-place finish. Bob Baffert and Zayat Stables wrote a chapter of horse racing history in 2015 when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown for the first time in 37 years and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic. See Justify’s profile for Baffert’s other Derby highlights. Zayat Stables also owned 2009 and 2011 Derby runner-ups Pioneerof the Nile and Nehro, and co-owned 2012 runner-up Bodemeister. Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith were profiled in Mendelssohn’s capsule.

18. Vino Rosso (12-1)

Jockey: John Velazquez
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owners: Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable
Career record: 5 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $620,500
Earnings per start: $124,100
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106
Kentucky Derby points: 107
Pedigree: Curlin – Mythical Bride, by Street Cry
Color: Chestnut
Running style: Stalker/closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt’s reputation is on the rise among Derby handicappers in the weeks leading up to May 5. After two modest efforts in stakes races at Tampa Bay Downs – third in the Sam F. Davis Stakes; fourth in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby – he responded to a change in scenery with aplomb, edging clear from Enticed (after bumping that foe) and winning the Wood Memorial Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets by three lengths. The 1 1/8-mile Wood Memorial was the son of Curlin’s best race to date, which offers encouragement for his chances stretching out to 1 ¼ miles in the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher’s Derby record is discussed in Magnum Moon’s profile. Hall of Famer John Velazquez won the 2011 Derby aboard Animal Kingdom and last year’s run for the roses with Always Dreaming. He also finished second in 2001 on Invisible Ink from 19 total starts. Mike Repole’s Derby record is discussed in Noble Indy’s profile. Vincent Viola’s St. Elias Stable was among the owners of last year’s Derby winner Always Dreaming.

19. Noble Indy (30-1)

Jockey: Florent Geroux
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Owners: WinStar Farm and Repole Stable
Career record: 4 starts – 3 wins – 0 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $691,600
Earnings per start: $172,900
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 106
Kentucky Derby points: 110
Pedigree: Take Charge Indy – Noble Maz, by Storm Boot
Color: Bay
Running style: Press the pace/stalker

Notable achievements and interesting facts: Among Todd Pletcher’s four Kentucky Derby contenders, this colt has the least buzz heading toward May 5. This is despite having won three of four career starts and showing a lot of courage to win the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 24. He won his first two starts at Gulfstream Park at seven-eighths of a mile and 1 1/16 miles before shipping to Fair Grounds and running well to finish third behind the two pacesetters Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair in the Risen Star Stakes Presented by Lamarque Ford in February. That set up his valiant effort in the Louisiana Derby, where he was briefly headed in midstretch by Lone Sailor before responding and winning by a neck. In his four prior starts, he’s run best when involved in the early pace. He's hindered by drawing an outside post in the Derby, so it will be interesting to see where he’s positioned in what projects to be a crowded group of horses just behind likely pacesetter Promises Fulfilled and, possibly, Mendelssohn. Pletcher’s Derby record is discussed in Magnum Moon’s profile. Geroux will be riding in his third Kentucky Derby; he piloted Gun Runner, 2017’s Horse of the Year, to a third-place finish in 2016. Co-owner WinStar Farm won the 2010 Kentucky Derby with Pletcher-trained Super Saver, their Bluegrass Cat finished second to Barbaro in 2006, and Revolutionary finished third in 2013. WinStar also bred 2003 dual classic winner Funny Cide and they’ve also been part-owner of several Derby starters in years past, finishing third last year with Battle of Midway, whom they owned in partnership with Don Alberto Stable. Noble Indy is one of two contenders this year owned by Mike Repole in partnership; he sent three horses to the classic as sole owner in previous years.

20. Combatant (50-1)

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Owners: Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing
Career record: 7 starts – 1 win – 3 seconds – 1 third
Career earnings: $388,550
Earnings per start: $55,507
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 103
Kentucky Derby points: 32
Pedigree: Scat Daddy – Border Dispute, by Boundary
Color: Bay
Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This Steve Asmussen-trained colt made he Derby field after Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby winner Quip was taken out of consideration and pointed to the Preakness Stakes. He gives a consistent effort and has never finished worse than fourth in seven career starts – but he’s only won once, taking a one-turn mile maiden race at Churchill Downs last fall. He competed in all four Kentucky Derby preps held at Oaklawn Park, finishing second in the Smarty Jones Stakes and Southwest Stakes, third in the Rebel Stakes, and then fourth in a three-horse photo for second in the Arkansas Derby. Truthfully, he hasn’t shown much acceleration in his starts in Arkansas and is more of a methodical closer that should be considered for trifectas and superfectas rather than an electrifying one who could score an upset if the Derby pace is too fast. Hall of Famer Asmussen has had success at the Derby but has yet to win the race; his best finishes came with runners-up Nehro in 2011 and Lookin At Lee last year and with third-place Curlin and Gun Runner in 2007 and 2016, respectively. Co-owner Willis Horton campaigned 2013 eighth-place Derby finisher and eventual champion 3-year-old Will Take Charge. Winchell Thoroughbreds has been represented in several Derbys, either as sole owner or with partners, with Gun Runner its best performer. This will be Ricardo Santana's fourth Derby appearance, and third in a row.


21. Blended Citizen (also-eligible) (50-1)

Jockey: Kyle Frey
Trainer: Doug O’Neill
Owners: Greg Hall and SAYJAY Racing
Career record: 9 starts – 2 wins – 0 seconds – 2 thirds
Career earnings: $196,584
Earnings per start: $21,873
Top Equibase Speed Figure: 112
Kentucky Derby points: 22
Pedigree: Proud Citizen – Langara Lass, by Langfuhr
Color: Bay
Running style: Closer

Notable achievements and interesting facts: This colt has run consistently well in each start since breaking his maiden last November, but his best form has come on turf and synthetic surfaces. His maiden win was on turf, and then he finished fourth on turf and third on a synthetic main track at Golden Gate Fields before winning the Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park in March on another synthetic main track. In his next start, he returned to dirt for the first time since last October and made up some ground in the stretch to finish fifth in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. If he draws into the Kentucky Derby, he’ll probably be the longest shot in the field breaking from the far outside, and could offer some (limited) appeal as a late-closing bomb filler for the bottom of superfecta tickets. Why, do you ask? He is a son of 2002 Derby runner-up Proud Citizen, and a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to last year’s Derby runner-up Lookin At Lee. Jockey Kyle Frey has never had a Kentucky Derby mount. Trainer Doug O’Neill, on the other hand, has visited the Derby winner’s circle at Churchill Downs twice in recent years, with I’ll Have Another in 2012 and Nyquist in 2016.
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