Derby day is fast approaching and there are very few days in sports that compare to the first Saturday in May. Whether it is the big hats worn by the beautiful women or the mint juleps being sipped elegantly, the Kentucky Derby is an event like no other. This year is the 144th running of the race and will be held at the historic Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Derby also is the first leg of the Triple Crown and for 20 promising horses, this is the first leg on their journey to become legendary. Although there are no American Pharaoh type horses running in this year’s race, there are a bunch of really fast horses who could make a run at the Triple Crown. Throughout this article you will meet 8 horses who you will definitely have to keep an eye on come post time. 4 of these horses will be horses that have a legitimate shot to win the Derby and the other 4 will be the dark horses of the race and will be horses who have the potential to shock some people. The winner of the Derby will then be chosen and additionally, that horse will be stacked up against the greats and we will see if it has any chance of winning the crown. We will first start with analyzing the weather forecast for Saturday and will implicate how it will effect the horses and the race or if it even will at all.
Ideally, the Derby is best run with blue skies and temperatures in the mid 60s. Unfortunately, that is very rarely that case and this year will be different. The week coming into the Kentucky Derby is going to be very hot and humid and is even expected to hit temperatures in the low 90s. This can make the dirt at Churchill Downs very dry and it is essential that the grounds crew take proper care of the grounds. The weather is supposed to cool down around Friday with some light showers and by Saturday the Downs will be in the mid 70’s. The only thing that could be troublesome on Saturday is that meteorologists in the Kentucky area are calling for some light showers later on in the day and this could lead to a wet muddy race. How is this problematic you may ask? Well one, a muddy track slows down the horses significantly, and in some cases also causes injuries to the horses. The jockeys also have a hard time seeing because the mud and water will clog up their googles in a very quick amount of time and they will be forced to wear multiple googles at a time. Putting this in perspective though, these are very small problems for a very minor issue. They are not calling for a monsoon or a thunder storm that would delay the start of the race. Overall, the weather might make a small impact on the running of the race, but it will not determine the outcome in the slightest bit and it should not effect the way that you bet on these horses.
The Dark Horse
1. Free Drop Billy (30-1)
Free Drop Billy is by no mean’s the favorite coming into the Kentucky Derby. He is not the prettiest horse and is not going to have many bets in his favor. That being said, keep an eye on this horse because he might do better then you think. This horse isn’t necessarily fast enough or as explosive as the other horses in the field to win the Derby, but I do think FDB will stay in the middle of the pack during the majority of the race. The horse is owned by Dale Romans who is taking a shot at winning the derby for the 9th time. When you have an experienced owner such as Romans, you are due to have some sort of success at the Downs but with that, it usually takes a special horse to win it. Who know’s maybe we will be talking about this horse on Sunday as the horse who completed the biggest upset in Kentucky Derby history!
2. Enticed (30-1)
If you are a betting man or women, this might be the most enticing pick of the entire field. This horse is not only gorgeous, but has these long powerful strides that can be dangerous come down the stretch. Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, Enticed has become one of the more explosive horses in the world and is a sleeper coming into the Derby. I think if Enticed can manage to get to the outside on the final stretch at Churchill Downs, it has a good chance of winning this thing. The only problem is, getting that outside position is going to be extremely difficult and to be done, will require a tremendous amount of skill. And yes, I know what you are thinking, that pun in the beginning of this paragraph was the stupidest thing ever. Hi haters.
3. Audible (8-1)
Now, to call Audible a “Dark horse” coming into the derby is a bit of a stretch, but for some reason, this horse is not a popular pick at all despite having pretty good odds. That being said, if you are not into horse racing and are just looking to pick a horse to bet, Audible is the sexy choice by the common eye. It is backed by Amazon who teamed up with the owner of this horse, and is named after the popular audio book company that is owned by Amazon, Audible. Although this horse has the most press coming into the race and is the easiest horse to talk about, nobody is really talking about the horse’s capabilities. Audible is a very fast horse that on occasion can become unstoppable. The horse is trained by one of the best trainers in the world, Todd A. Pletcher who is no stranger to the horse racing game. The one weakness to this horses game is that it tends to be stuck in the pack instead of separating itself from the field and if you do that in the Kentucky Derby, you will get eaten alive. Amazon is known for having some of the fastest shipping in the world, let’s see how a horse named after them will do when the lights are the brightest.
4. My Boy Jack (30-1)
The fact that My Boy Jack is coming into the Kentucky Derby at 30-1 odds to win is an absolute farce. This horse is the biggest sleeper in the field and should be a horse you want to bet on and in a lucrative way. I might even go to the extent of saying that this is my favorite horse in the entire field. My Boy Jack is coming off of two wins already this year and is the hottest horse coming into the Derby. He is not the fastest horse, but he is a grinder and manages to get the job done, race after race. My Boy Jack is trained by Keith Desormeaux and is ridden by the trainers brother Kent who is a veteran of the game. If you are watching at home, MBJ will not be in the lead the entire race. He will be hidden in the middle, saving his stamina for the final turn. You will start to see him pick up the pace when the horses race to the finish lane and if this colt hits his stride late…. WATCH OUT!
1. Bolt d’Oro (8-1)
Perhaps the coolest name in the field enters the Kentucky Derby with 8-1 odds and is considered as one of the favorites. These high praises are well deserved because this horse can absolutely fly. This horse is one that will EXPLODE out of the gate and will be in the front of the pack for the majority of the race. The big question however is will he tire out near the end and lose the lead that he has already established. BDO is also one of the most expensive horses in the world as it was purchased by Mick Ruis for the steep price of 78 million dollars. With a horse that is so expensive and is praised as much as d’ORO is, the expectations are going to be through the roof and it will be interesting to see whether or not this beauty will deliver.
2. Magnum Moon (6-1)
Magnum Moon is one of the most explosive race horses I have seen in a long time. It came to no surprise when he came in with the 3rd best odds to win the Derby. MM is as Kentucky as they get and will be ready for his moment on Saturday. He was born in Kentucky and has been running through race tracks all over the state since the day he was born. He is trained by Todd Pletcher who has four horses running in the Derby including previously talked about Audible. Moon is ridden by a very talented jockey in Luis Saez who will not be afraid of this moment and will be one of the most confident jockeys coming into the weekend. The only downside about Magnum Moon is that because he is so explosive out of the gates and through the early parts of the race, he tends to slow down a tad, letting other horses in the race and perhaps losing the lead that the colt has built. With odds at 6-1, you are considered a favorite, and favorites either exceed expectations or fall under the pressure and disappoint. It will be fun to see what type of horse Magnum Moon becomes on Saturday.
3. Mendelssohn (5-1)
Oh baby, this horse gets me fired up. Mendelssohn is not only fast, but is also diligent, explosive and is the ultimate definition of a 5 tool horse. This colt is so talented that he won a race earlier this year by 18 strides. In comparison, that would be like if a hockey team won a game 10-0. A dominating performance like that, no matter what the stage of the race it was, is impressive and will get people talking. Mendelssohn is trained by Aidan O’Brien who has done a great job teaching the horse how to close out a race and this horse is coming into the Downs as the most dominant closer in the game. If this horse can go to the final stretch with a lead, this race will be over before the sun goes down and the rest of the field will be left in the dust.
4. Justify (3-1)
Meet Justify, your odds on favorite to win the 2018 Kentucky Derby. At 3-1 odds, some would say that Justify is almost a shoe in to take this one home but many experts along with myself just do not see it. Although this horse is very talented and deserves to be the favorite, I have a strong hunch that the horse will be the biggest disappointment in the history of the Kentucky Derby. I think that this horse will find himself in the middle of the pack early and due to inability to get an outside position, Justify will finish this race in the bottom half of the pack. It is hard to win this race and even harder to win it when you are coming in as the favorite, this colt will crack under the pressure.
My Boy Jack is going to shock the Kentucky Derby world on Saturday and you heard it here first. Something about this horses grittiness and fight is the reason why I think he is capable of pulling off this historic upset. This race is going to be between two horses and for one main reason, closing. To win the Kentucky Derby you need to have one of two things. You either need to have tremendous closing speed which My Boy Jack and Mendelssohn both have or you need to be special and by special I mean the ability to win the triple crown special. No horse in this field has the ability to win the triple crown. Due to this, the race is going to come down to the final stretch and if you like close finishes, this is the race for you. My Boy Jack will win this race by maybe a length or two and he will be your 2018 Kentucky Derby Champion. I hope you all enjoyed my preview and I hope you all have a very happy and exciting Derby Day!