As I noted last year in our first installment of the Kentucky Derby Gambling Guide, any respectable website for men that is based out of Kentucky needs an analysis of the Kentucky Derby. So, my man Ness from the Regular Guy Bourbon Review is back with his breakdown of the 144th Kentucky Derby. Enjoy!
Hey guys, Ness here. Every year since 2012 I’ve created a breakdown of the Derby horses to guide my bets. The 2018 Derby has one of the most talented fields in a while. There are lots of good horses, which means payouts should be significant this year. Here’s my run down of every horse and how I may or may not be using them in my bets. For a reminder of my betting strategy, take a look at the 2017 version of the Kentucky Derby Gambling Guide.
- Firenze Fire – Jason Servis, Paco Lopez, 50-1. The post position is so hard overcome in the Derby. You have 19 horses to your outside charging down at you, and since the 1 starts on a bit of the last turn, if he goes straight he will run into the rail so he has to start super fast or veer out. That being said, Looking at Lee was in the 1 last year and finished 2nd. I don’t think this horse is as good though and I am tossing him out of the horses I’ll include.
- Free Drop Billy – Dale Romans, Robby Albarado, 30-1. This horse just doesn’t have the speed figures many others in the field have. He hasn’t won in 2018 with three starts, and I just don’t see him being a factor on Derby Day.
- Promises Fulfilled – Dale Romans, Corey Lanerie, 30-1. I think this horse will be quick out of the gate and run to the lead. I think he will set the pace for most of the race. If he can hang on, he could be a long shot to win. However, at Churchill I like horses that come off the pace and close strong. I think there are a handful of horses that will do just that, so I’m not including Promises Fulfilled in my bets.
- Flameaway – Mark Casse, Jose Lezcano, 30-1. I’m a little perplexed here. I don’t put him in a top tier as I don’t think he can win…but I’m not sure to include him in my exactas. I do think he’ll have a good price. He may get caught up with Promises Fulfilled trying to get the early lead, which will wear him out, so likely won’t include in my bets.
- Audible – Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano, 8-1. He’s a Todd Pletcher horse, and is the first one of the contenders. He won the Holy Bull and the Florida Derby, and can run off the lead or close if needed. When on the lead, he pulls away from the other horses coming home. I love all of that, and I have him in my top 4-5 horses. In the Derby, with so many horses, you have to narrow it down somehow. I like to base all my bets around three horses that could win. Audible doesn’t check two of my boxes. I’m not a big Pletcher guy for the Derby. Also, this horse has only run a 99 Beyer. I like to see them run 100 or better before the Derby. I know that’s close, but in a race with this much talent you have to draw the line somewhere. Could burn me, but will only include him in my exotic bets to finish in the top three.
- Good Magic – Chad Brown, Jose Ortiz, 12-1. Another great horse; sired by Curlin and winner of the Breeders Cup Juvenile last November where he ran 100 Beyer. He also won at Keeneland in the Bluegrass Stakes a few weeks ago. He’s another one that could win, but I’m not including in my top picks. He doesn’t really have the late kick I like. I’ll include him in exotics to finish 2nd or 3rd. He is my oldest son’s top pick, for what it’s worth.
- Justify – Bob Baffert, Mike Smith, 3-1. Plainly said, I feel this is his race to lose. Best looking. Most talented. Ideal post for his style of race with pace inside of him. Won the Santa Anita Derby with a 107 Beyer. Think he can get out quick and then stalk Promises Fulfilled the majority of the way . . . and as long as he kicks, no one will catch him. The ONLY thing against him is pure superstition. They call it “The Curse of Apollo”. Justify wasn’t raced as a two-year-old. Apollo was the last horse to win the Derby not to race as a two-year-old . . . back in 1882. I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious. Baffert had a similar situation with Arrogate in 2016. He hadn’t raced as a two–year-old and he held him out of the Derby; then Arrogate went on to win Horse of the Year. My thought is that if Baffert thought Justify wasn’t ready to be his best, he would hold him out. Have him on all your tickets to win.
- Lone Sailor – Tom Amoss, James Graham, 50-1. His speed figures aren’t up to par with most of the rest of the field. He has a good last pace which means he could come up for a piece of the trifecta at the end. I’m not going to include him in my bets though.
- Hofburg, Bill Mott, Irad Ortiz Jr., 20-1. He finished 2nd to Audible in the Florida Derby and has improved speed figures each race. A “wise guy’s pick” as of late. While he has the breeding for this distance, he’s not a true contender for me. I may or may not include in my bets. Likely will though for the exotics.
- My Boy Jack – Keith Desormeaux, Kent Desormeaux, 30-1. YOU’RE MY BOY BLUE . . . errrr JACK. This is my long shot pick. Best closer in the race. Won’t include him in my bigger bets, but at 30-1 I’ll put a $10 win bet on him. Has killer closing speed and most of the good horses to his inside. Kent and Keith Desormeaux know what they are doing and will put together a good plan for him. Again, don’t think he will win, but if he closes hard and finishes 2nd or 3rd, it will make the exacta and trifecta payouts well worth your time. Include in exotics.
- Bolt d’Oro – Mick Ruis, Victor Espinoza, 8-1. Here is another one of my top picks. He finished 2nd to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby and has had several >100 Beyers. I don’t like that his jockey switched to Audible, but talent-wise I feel that he’s got what it takes. Hard to exclude from my tickets in the top spot. More of a defensive bet than anything. Has been training at Santa Anita, which has been slow, so I’m hoping he finds his stride at Churchill Downs. Include in all tickets.
- Enticed – Kiaran McLaughlin, Junior Alvarado, 30-1. This is another horse I’m not really sure about. He hits the board a lot. Not great closing speed, but not awful either. You have to throw out some horses at some point. I prefer others, so I won’t include him in my bets.
- Bravazo – D. Wayne Lukas, Luis Contreras, 50-1. It’s hard to throw out a Lucas horse, but I don’t see a lot of reasons to include him. He was looking good in 2018 with 2 wins, but his last race out was #poopemoji. He seems to like the track at Churchill, but I think he may have issues trying to get position between Bolt d’Oro and the next horse I’m about to discuss . . .
- Mendelssohn – Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore, 5-1. Impressive horse. Won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November, but has only raced in Europe since. His last race was the UAE Derby, which he won by 18.5 LENGTHS!!!! Now, was that against weak competition? Well, the horse that got second is running in the Oaks Friday (Rayya), so see how she does to get some type of feel. The last race was a 106 Beyer. He could get 1st or 10th . . . but I can’t not include him in my winning tier. Now, he had to travel from Europe here and you never know how a horse does with that. But he did perform well at the Breeders’ Cup after traveling. I hope he will be fine and is my second favorite horse if he runs his race.
- Instilled Regard – Jerry Hollendorfer, Drayden Van Dyke, 50-1. He’s another horse that’s just kind of “meh.” Has decent Beyers (90s) and great closing speed, but really hasn’t done much with it. If you’re looking for a horse to boost your exotics, add him in, but I don’t think he can win.
- Magnum Moon – Todd Pletcher, Luis Saez, 6-1. I lump this horse in with everything I said about Audible. Pletcher horse. High 98 Beyer, but not 100. I think he’s too far outside to capitalize on his style, so will only include in my exotics like Audible. Could win and would be a decent price, I’m just going with others.
- Solomini – Bob Baffert, Flavien Prat, 30-1. Another Baffert horse, sired by Curlin. Very consistent. You probably have to include him in your exotics because he’s at a great price. Just don’t bet him to win; only has one win lifetime. I’ll include him in exactas and trifectas.
- Vino Rosso – Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez, 12-1. He won the Wood Memorial with a 98 Beyer. Stalking style. Think he could get a piece of the board and I’ll likely include him in my exotics, depending on the odds. If he’s below 10-1, I’ll likely throw him out and include a longer shot like Instilled Regard or Combatant.
- Noble Indy – Todd Pletcher, Florent Geroux, 30-1. Another Pletcher horse. Good horse, and is improving every race. Has three wins in four starts. I just don’t like the 19 hole unless the horse is super talented, which I don’t think this horse is. More like Nope-le Indy for me.
- Combatant – Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana Jr., 50-1. It’s so hard to do anything all the way in the 20 hole. Big Brown won from here, but he was an amazing talent. He has really nice, deep closing speed though. I’m likely to include in exacta and trifectas if Vino Rosso drops too low.
So that’s my breakdown. While I’m still waiting on the odds to determine my exact bets, you can see that I’m high on Justify, Bolt d’Oro, and Mendelssohn as my top-tier, winning-level horses, and I’ll match them with the others I mentioned for exacts and trifectas. Good luck everyone, and may the odds be ever in your favor! As always, place your bets before the second Mint Julep. Trust me on this. Ness, out.