The most exciting 2 minutes in sports is almost upon us! The 144th running of the Derby is on Sunday and there is a talented field this year who are looking to buck a few trends (most notably the curse of Apollo whereby it’s been 135 years since a horse who did not race at age 2 won the Kentucky Derby, furthermore only 8 have placed or showed). Get your Mint Juleps and big hats out and enjoy some racing!
Race Details (144th running of the Kentucky Derby)
Venue: Churchill Downs
Length: 1.25 Miles
Undercard Race: 12:30pm
Race Start: 6:30pm
Winners Purse: $2MM
HistoryAs America’s longest run sporting event, the Kentucky Derby has been at the same venue since 1875.
First winner: Aristides
Record: 1.5904 (Secretariat in 1973)
Attendance: 10,000 back in 1875 it now draws over 150,000 attendees.
Low point – in 1892 only 3 racers entered the field.
Drink of the Derby: Mint Julep
Pole Spot with recent success – No. 5 (5 winners in the last 21 years and 10 over the last 143 years) – Audible sits there this year. Also keep in mind 6 of the last 8 winners have been in pole spot 13-19, in a nut shell, closer to the rail pinches you out (especially below 5) – 32 years since a horse in the No. 1 spot won.
Only three fillies have ever won (female horses)
Since 2000, 10 Kentucky Derby winners have been from new Trainer, while 8 have been from seasoned winners.
This one doesn’t really mean anything but ‘S’ is the most successful starting initial for Derby Winners (looking at you Solomini)
Obscure FactsThe first Kentucky Derby was started by Meriwether Lewis Clark, grandson of William Clark (from Lewis & Clark)
The race used to be 1.5 miles until it was changed in 1896 to 1.25 miles
An estimated 120,000 Mint Juleps are consumed during race day
The derby has never been cancelled continuing throw inclement weather, wars and depressions.
60,000 horse names are submitted to the Jockey Club each year and around 30% are rejected.
Less then one tenth of 1% of thoroughbreds make it race in the Kentucky Derby
Horse: Firenze Fire (Odds: 50-1)
Jockey: Lopez, Paco Trainer: Servis, Jason
Synopsis: With a win last October at Champagne Stakes things looked promising but 2018 has shown a steady downward decline with each race.
Horse: Free Drop Billy (Odds: *30-1)
Jockey: Albarado, Robby (1x preakness winner) Trainer: Romans, Dale (1x preakness winner)
Synopsis: 2 wins across 8 starts, his very first race was at Churchill Downs last year.
Horse: Promises Fulfilled (Odds: *30-1)
Jockey: Lanerie, Corey Trainer: Romans, Dale (1x preakness winner)
Synopsis: With 3 wins across 5 starts, Promises Fulfilled had a strong win at the Fountain of Youth 2 months ago. Among the faster horses he is light on experience compared to the other horses.
Horse: Flameaway (Odds: *30-1)
Jockey: Lezcano, Jose Trainer: Casse, Mark
Synopsis: On the converse side form Promises Fulfilled, Flameaway has 9 races to his name going 5-2-0. His Jockey and Trainer do not have a track record of American Classic success though.
Horse: Audible (Odds: *8-1)
Jockey: Castellano, Javier (1x Preakness winner) Trainer: Pletcher, Todd (2x Kentucky Derby winner, 3x Belmont Stakes winner)
Synopsis: Backed by Amazon (true story) after they discovered the horses name through an “Audible” SEO search, Audible is fresh off a dominant Florida derby win by 3 lengths. Todd Pletchers best of his 4 entries.
Horse: Good Magic (Odds: *12-1)
Jockey: Ortiz, Jose (1x Belmont Stakes winner) Trainer: Brown, Chad (1x Preakness winner)
Synopsis: Fresh off a win at Breeders Cup Juvenile and placing at Champagne Stakes, Good Magic seems to win by a number of lengths when he does win.
Horse: Justify (Odds: *3-1)
Jockey: Smith, Mike (1x Kentucky Derby winner; 1x Preakness winner; 2x Belmont Stakes winner) Trainer: Baffert, Bob (4x Kentucky Derby Winner)
Synopsis: The odds on favorite, Justify is looking to be win despite never racing as a 2 year old since Apollo (in 1882) “the curse of Apollo”. Justify is 3 for 3 on race to win ratio (that’s 100%!)
Horse: Lone Sailor (Odds: *50-1)
Jockey: Graham, James Trainer: Amoss, Thomas
Synopsis: Trending up, Lone Sailor has back to back 2nd place finishes coming into Churchill Downs (Twinspires and Allowance Optional Claiming), Lone Sailor typically comes in strong down the final stretch.
Horse: Hofburg (Odds: *20-1)
Jockey: Ortiz Jr., Irad (1x Belmont Stakes winner) Trainer: Mott, Bill (1x Belmont Stakes winner)
Synopsis: Just three career starts for Hofburg, he finished the Florida Derby 3 lengths behind Audible. Hofburg is among the less seasoned horses on the track.
Horse: My Boy Jack (Odds: *20-1)
Jockey: Desormeaux, Kent (3x Kentucky Derby winner; 3x Preakness winner; 1x Belmont Stakes winner) Trainer: Desormeaux, J. Keith (1x Preakness winner)
Synopsis: Among the more experienced horses with 10 starts, he won last month at the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes. Being ridden by one of the most accomplished Jockey Kent (brother of the trainer).
Horse: Bolt d’Oro (Odds: *8-1)
Jockey: Espinoza, Victor (3x Kentucky Derby winner; 3x Preakness winner; 1x Belmont Stakes winner; 1x Triple Crown winner) Trainer: Ruis, Mick
Synopsis: Currently the third in line of favorites, he comes in with 2 wins and 4 straight top 3 finishes. He comes in with notable Jockey Victor Espinoza who won the triple crown riding American Pharoah in 2015.
Horse: Enticed (Odds: *30-1)
Jockey: Alvarado, Junior Trainer: McLaughlin, Kiaran (1x Belmont Stakes winner)
Synopsis: A very strong pedigree, Enticed is 3-1-1 in six starts (strategically picked races by Kiaran), this horse is always contending down the stretch.
Horse: Bravazo (Odds: *50-1)
Jockey: Contreras, Luis Trainer: Lukas, D. Wayne (4x Kentucky Derby winner, 6x Preakness winner, 4x Belmont Stakes winner)
Synopsis: Some history at Churchill Downs (3 races including a win by 4 lengths) and one of the most accomplished trainers battles against two finishes outside the top 5 in the last 3 races.
Horse: Mendelssohn (Odds: *5-1)
Jockey: Moore, Ryan Trainer: O’Brien, Aidan
Synopsis: No foreign born horse has won the Kentucky Derby (‘merica!) and Mendelssohn who is insanely fast, was born in Ireland. Mendelssohn won the UAE Derby by 18 lenghts a month ago. Very accomplished horse and Jockey across seas with limited exposure in America.
Horse: Instilled Regard (Odds: *50-1)
Jockey: Van Dyke, Drayden Trainer: Hollendorfer, Jerry
Synopsis: Instilled Regard is the ‘meh’ of the group. A handful of 4th place finishes, a Jockey and Trainer who are not overtly accomplished and a classic ‘good but not great’ pedigree.
Horse: Magnum Moon (Odds: *6-1)
Jockey: Saez, Luis Trainer: Pletcher, Todd (2x Kentucky Derby winner; 3x Belmont Stakes winner)
Synopsis: Todd Pletcher won the Kentucky Derby last year but he also trained 4 horses in this field. Magnum is off 4 consecutive wins coming to Kentucky Derby. Magnum also falls under the curse of Apollo not racing as a 2 year old.
Horse: Solomini (Odds: *30-1)
Jockey: Prat, Flavien Trainer: Baffert, Bob (4x Kentucky Derby winner; 6x Preakness winner; 2x Belmont Stakes winner; 1x Triple Crown winner)
Synopsis: Perhaps the most accomplished current trainer works with Solomini who has just 1 win across 6 starts but seems to always place. He seems to be improving with each race though.
Horse: Vino Rosso (Odds: *12-1)
Jockey: Velazquez, John (2x Kentucky Derby winner; 2x Belmont Stakes winner) Trainer: Pletcher, Todd (2x Kentucky Derby winner; 3x Belmont Stakes winner)
Synopsis: Fresh off a win at Wood Memorial, Vino is 3-0-1 across five starts. Vino battled Enticed at the Old Time Revival and probably the 2nd best of Todd Pletchers horses.
Horse: Noble Indy (Odds: *30-1)
Jockey: Geroux, Florent Trainer: Pletcher, Todd (2x Kentucky Derby winner; 3x Belmont Stakes winner)
Synopsis: 3 wins across 4 starts, Noble Indy has a fresh jockey with Florent after John Velazquez rode him through the last few wins.
Horse: Combatant (Odds: *50-1)
Jockey: Santana Jr., Ricardo Trainer: Asmussen, Steve (2x Preakness winner; 1x Belmont winner)
Synopsis: Combine worst odds with worst starting position (20) and I am not feeling good about Combatant’s chances in spite of trainer Steve Asmussen’s successes.
Horse: **Blended Citizen (Odds: *50-1)
Jockey: Frey, Kyle Trainer: O’Neill, Doug (2x Kentucky Derby winner; 1x Preakness winner)
Synopsis: Lucky or unlucky #21, Blended will fill in should any of the top 20 withdraw prior to the race.
Fake Team Picks:
Winner: Audible (Audible has the pole position, the trainer, superior points, recent major success and of course the backing of Amazon)
Place: Mendelssohn (I don’t trust Mendelssohn to win – despite being the strongest horse in my opinion, but I think we are looking at a top 3 as the learning curve of coming to the states voids the win)
Show: Magnum Moon (The high odds Dark Horse, enough isn’t being said about Magnum who has won 4 staight)
Superfecta: Audible, Mendelssohn, Magnum Moon, Enticed
Winner: Lone Sailer, Big Believer beause they say “If you want to go far, go in a group. If you want to go fast, go alone.”
Winner: My Boy Jack, The come from behind horse has the mos texperience in the Derby Field and is managed by the Desormeau brothers. Purchased for just $20k, I think drawing the 10 slot could make for a dream ride for the underdog.
Superfecta: My Boy Jack, Justify, Bolt D’Oro & Good Magic
Controversy: Congress is currently in the middle of a debate over a drug that the horses use to help prevent bleeding in the lungs that comes out during the exhaustion of the race. This drug not only helps stop the bleeding from occuring but can help the horse drop as much as 25lbs prior to the race providing not only an advantage but health dangers as well.
Who Do You Pick? Leave your picks for Winner, Place, Show and Superfecta below in the comments!