The post position draw is in the books with the Bob Baffert-trained Justify installed as the +300 morning line favorite and breaking from post seven, so let’s look at the Kentucky Derby favorites and a few sleepers that may be worth a bet on Saturday afternoon.
kentucky derby Favorites
Justify: The +300 morning line favorite can still be had at +350 at [custom:bovada-link], and the Baffert trainee is looking to stay undefeated but has to buck history. No Derby winner since Apollo in 1882 has won the Run for the Roses without at least one start as a juvenile. Only two Derby winners in the last century have won the race off just three career starts. The colt may be just that good to overcome those obstacles but backing him means settling for a light price.
Mendelssohn: The likely second choice in the betting (+500 on the morning line), he too is looking to end a trend of no horse exiting the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai and coming over to Louisville and winning. In fact, of the 13 that have tried, the best finish was a fifth by Master of Hounds in 2011. His UAE Derby victory was visually impressive, drawing off to win by 18 ¼ lengths, but the racing surface at Meydan was kind to inside speed throughout the entire Dubai Carnival.
Magnum Moon: Perhaps the best of the Todd Pletcher quartet, the Arkansas Derby (G1) winner is undefeated in four starts, all this year, meaning he too is looking to end the Apollo Curse. He does have the experience edge over Justify, who made all three of his starts at Santa Anita. Magnum Moon has performed well at Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Oaklawn Park. The colt is currently at +700 in early Derby betting at [custom:bovada-link].
Favorites have won the Kentucky Derby five years in a row, and this year’s field is one of the deepest we have seen in years. How about a couple of sleepers that can be in the mix?
kentucky derby Sleepers
Good Magic: Currently +900 at [custom:bovada-link], this guy won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) last fall as a maiden, but horseplayers jumped off his bandwagon after a disappointing third in the Fountain of Youth (G2) in his three-year-old debut. He bounced back with a victory in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, a race that has not been a productive Derby prep in recent years. However, it is just a matter of time before trainer Chad Brown saddles a Derby winner and double-digit odds on this colt looks like value.
Bolt d’Oro: The Mick Ruis trainee is one of two in the field that has earned three Beyer Speed Figures of 100+ and while he was no match for Justify last out, the race did not set up well for him that day. Ruis is not well known among the general betting public, and with Baffert, Pletcher, Brown and Lukas having runners in the field, could this talented colt get overlooked?
Hofburg: With just three starts under his belt and a runner-up finish in the Florida Derby (G1) last out, I did not think Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott would move forward to the Kentucky Derby with such an inexperienced runner. The trainer tends to be conservative and has not started many runners in the Derby, 0-for-7 with his starters with an eighth-place finish by Favorite Trick in 1998 his best finish. However, this colt has made an impression this week at Churchill Downs and could come running late to pick up a share at a generous price.
Check out [custom:bovada-link] for the latest Derby odds as well as prop betting and matchups for the Kentucky Derby.
Handicapper Michael Dempsey will be covering the Triple Crown for OddsShark and his full card reports with selections, analysis, fair odds line and wagering recommendations for major tracks can be found daily at turfnsport.com.