2018 Kentucky Derby Betting Favorites Preview

  • The six horses most likely to win the Kentucky Derby
  • Scat Daddy, Curlin, Todd Pletcher and Bob Baffert are all well represented
  • Will the Curse of Apollo be broken?

With the Road to the Kentucky Derby in the books, all that’s left is the Run for the Roses on May 5th. Here’s a quick summary of the favorites to win, plus some betting advice.

We’ve got these odds from Bovada, who were among the first to offer futures on the Kentucky Derby.

Justify: +400

Maybe you’re wary of betting on a horse who did not race as a two-year-old. You’d be forgiven, considering that the last such horse to win the Derby was Apollo back in 1882. That’s a discouraging stat, but (hopefully) more superstition than sabermetric.

There are a lot of reasons to like Justify. He was a highly-touted yearling with exceptional dirt-track pedigree that sold for an incredible $500,000. He sat out his 2-year-old season because he was a little too big. He’s trained by Bob Baffert, who has won four Kentucky Derbies and a Triple Crown with American Pharoah. If there’s a trainer who can bring a wildly talented favorite to success at the Derby, it’s Baffert.

Betting Tip:Β A truly fantastic horse, at stunningly expensive odds. This line has to shift longer as the race gets closer, so hold off for now.

Mendelssohn: +450

Also coming off three straight wins, and also sired by Scat Daddy, and also anΒ extremelyΒ expensive yearling, Mendelssohn is Justify with two-year-old racing experience and some international flavor.

Mendelssohn’s last three starts are all win, but come thousands of miles apart. In Del Mar, he won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and finished his two-year old campaign. He then started his 2018 season in Ireland, at Dundalk, and won the Patton Stakes. He then traveled to the UAE, where he won the UAE Derby and 4.4 million Dirham. Two things are very clear: Mendelssohn is fast, and has absolutely no trouble travelling.

Even with all his success, Mendelssohn has still not yet won back his yearling fee of $3 million. Absolutely stunning stuff.

Betting advice:Β Scat Daddy produced a crop of incredible dirt track racers, and in turn produced artificially short lines for all his progeny. Pass on these odds.

Audible +550

Audible has won four straight, but wasn’t a hugely expensive yearling like the other two favorites, fetching just $175,000 at the Saratoga yearling sale in 2016. That doesn’t mean Audible is lacking in pedigree, however, as the Florida Derby champion was sired by Into Mischief, 2017’s champion sire. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Audible has all the makings of a Kentucky Derby favorite, although there are some concerns.

Specifically, none of Into Mischief’s many stakes-winning horses have won at any distance longer than 9 furlongs. Usually that wouldn’t be a problem, but with this many winners, it’s starting to look like a trend.

Betting Tip: If you think Audible can make it the distance, these odds are a little long for such a great horse.

Magnum Moon: +800

The second Todd Pletcher horse on this list, Magnum Moon is the outright leader in Road to the Kentucky Derby points. Magnum Moon is also taking on the Curse of Apollo, as the second horse on the odds sheet to not have raced as a two-year-old. Helpfully, Magnum Moon is undefeated through four starts, and looks exceptionally fast, if a little green. His eyes, focus, and even stride were clearly wandering down the stretch of the 9-furlong Arkansas Derby. Magnum Moon won anyway, and comfortably, but it’s hard to put your money behind a horse that’s so… unprofessional.

Betting tip:Β Set aside your aesthetic concerns, Magnum Moon is a great horse at great odds.

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Bolt D’Oro: +1000

Here to represent the Medaglia d’Oro line is Bolt d’Oro, who won the San Felipe Stakes over McKinzie in controversional fashion to earn a gate at the Kentucky Derby. Bolt doesn’t have a ton of huge wins to his name, and thus isn’t the obvious favorite, but there are those in the horse racing world that love this horse, love his sire, and expect great things from him at the Kentucky Derby.

Betting Tip:Β Something of a hipster pick, and losing to a bump doesn’t bode well against a field of 20 horses at the Kentucky Derby. Pass.

Good Magic: +1200

Previously the favorite, Good Magic appears to have fallen down the odds sheet somewhat. The Eclipse Award winner turned in a not terrible but still disappointing result at the Fountain of Youth Stakes, causing bettors to look elsewhere. With this many undefeated and highly touted horses in the field, just one bad result can have your odds plummeting.

Good Magic appears to have rebounded, winning the Blue Grass Stakes in exciting fashion, and might thus be good value. Good Magic has impeccable pedigree and a great record, with just a well-timed stumble to start the year.

Betting Tip:Β Likely the best value on the sheet, Good Magic is a terrific horse with just enough of a stumble to keep too much dumb money away.


Geoff Johnson

MTS co-founder Geoff Johnson is a lifelong Mets fan, something he can't do anything about. He has a great track record when it comes to wagering on baseball – largely because he's more than willing to bet against the Mets. His career profits are impressive, but not quite as good as his handsome friend Frank Lorenzo. He wishes he hadn't let Frank write his profile.

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