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Who is going to win  the 2018 Kentucky Derby? That is the question on everyone’s lips this week. As we get ready for, from what all appearances looks to be one of the deepest and most talented editions of the Run for the Roses in recent memory, let’s try to answer that question by looking at how each of the 20 horses can win, and their relative chances to do just that …

 

1) Firenze Fire (50-1) – Considering the disadvantageous post, his lack of ability to beat good horses of late, and the unlikelihood of him wanting ten furlongs, it would take a minor miracle for this one to make it to the winner’s circle. My Fair Odds = 100-1

 

2) Free Drop Billy (30-1) – Will be looking for a hot pace and a ground saving trip to do his best running late. Not out of the realm of possibility to make some noise in the stretch, but will need a career best to truly compete for this. My Fair Odds = 30-1

 

3) Promises Fulfilled (30-1) – If he goes right to the lead, and all the others leave him alone early on a moderate pace, he could get brave at the top of the lane, but even with the best scenario, I just can’t see him sticking around in the final furlong. My Fair Odds = 75-1

 

4) Flameaway (30-1) – I don’t believe the consistent son of Scat Daddy wants to be on the lead Saturday, but on the other hand, he should not be far off it either. If he can get a dream trip, saving ground, and finding a hole at the right time, his natural ability to battle can at least give him a fighter’s chance. My Fair Odds = 25-1

 

5) Audible  (8-1) – Look for him to relax in the middle of the pack early before turning on his strong turn of foot on the far turn. If he straightens for home on the lead, he could win, but I really do worry about his ability to be at his best at 1 1/4 miles. My Fair Odds = 10-1

 

6Good Magic  (12-1) – Much like Audible, a good middle of the pack position early should give him a real chance to move into contention on the far turn. He seems to be thriving right now, and unlike Audible, I believe the distance will not be an issue. My Fair Odds = 6-1

 

7) Justify  (3-1) – The favorite will need to show early speed and hope not to be crunched by the speed to his outside. If he can find a comfortable stalking position on the first turn, he becomes a big threat to punch to the lead and prove best at the top of the lane. His inexperience is a real concern in a race like this, though. My Fair Odds = 6-1

 

8) Lone Sailor (50-1) – Much like a few longshots from Louisiana to hit the board in recent years, this one will look to find a traffic free trip from the back of the pack. Only clear sailing will give him a chance to hit the board, although he does seem to like Churchill. My Fair Odds = 30-1

 

9) Hofburg (20-1) – Another who has looked outstanding over the Churchill Downs main track in the last week, he also, will look to make up a lot of ground on the far turn. He appears to be a ten-furlong horse, so don’t be surprised if he is picking up horses late. My Fair Odds = 15-1

 

10 My Boy Jack (30-1) – You know this one will be rallying from way back and passing tired horses late. With a good trip, and a fast early pace, his chances to hit the board are much better. The Desormeaux brothers teamed up for second two years ago. My Fair Odds = 20-1

 

11) Bolt d’Oro  (8-1) – Another like Audible and Good Magic, who will look to sit mid-pack early before making his move on the far turn. He is a classy horse with a real chance to win, but needs a decent gate break to find a good spot in the early stages. My Fair Odds = 6-1 

 

12) Enticed (30-1) – He has not proven to me that he can handle the very best, but on the other hand, he has done enough to at least consider. An ideal trip for him would be very similar to the one just described for Bolt d’Oro. My Fair Odds = 30-1

 

13) Bravazo (50-1) – Looks like his one chance is to go right out and be part of the early pace, and then see how far he can go. Sorry to say for his legendary connections, but I do not like his chances to stick around down the stretch. My Fair Odds = 50-1

 

14) Mendelssohn (5-1) – Like a few others in here, he could turn out to be a real monster. His first race on dirt emphasized his talent. I think the break will be important for the European-based star, though. If he falls back too much early, I think his chances diminish. A good close stalking trip is his chance to shine. My Fair Odds = 8-1

 

15) Instilled Regard (50-1) – Another long shot who should be able to get the distance. He doesn’t have much speed early, so his best chance is with a brisk pace, and to pick up the pieces from wilting speed. Not a likely winner, though. My Fair Odds = 30-1

 

16) Magnum Moon (6-1) – Like Justify, this Pletcher runner is unbeaten, and largely untested. If he is 100% mentally, of which there are questions after the Arkansas Derby, he could stalk and pounce effectively, which seems to be the way all three top favorites want to run.  My Fair Odds = 8-1

 

17) Solomini (30-1) – Changing leads in the stretch may well be job one for this one. If he does that, who knows? He does have good tactical speed, talent, and the ability to battle down the lane. From mid-pack early, he is in at least with a chance.. My Fair Odds = 25-1

 

18) Vino Rosso (12-1) – I believed he would come from well off the pace in the Derby, and the draw only makes that more likely. Like with Animal Kingdom a few years ago, if Johhny V can work out a good trip from an outside post, he should come rolling down the stretch. My Fair Odds = 6-1

 

19) Noble Indy (30-1) – Another from the loaded Pletcher barn, look for the Louisiana Derby winner to be asked right out of the gate to get good position into the first turn. I’ll Have Another did it from the 19-hole, but I do not think this one is another I’ll Have Another.  My Fair Odds = 30-1

 

20) Combatant (50-1) – He will need a fast pace, and to save ground from the far outside as quickly as possible. If both of those things happen, he could make some noise on the far turn, but still, I believe others will be moving better in the final stages. My Fair Odds = 30-1

 

Photo of Good Magic courtesy of Coady Photography