Expert Predictions on Who Will Win the Kentucky Derby


The 2018 Kentucky Derby is set to get underway at 6:50 PM ET on Saturday, May 5th at Churchill Downs. This is a Grade 1 stakes race for three-year-old thoroughbreds, and it’s held annually in Louisville, Kentucky. This is a 1 1/4-mile race that is known in the United States as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports” as well as the “Run for the Roses”.

It is the first leg of the Triple Crown, which is followed by the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. The Kentucky Derby has been run every year since 1875, making this the 144th running. The attendance at the event ranks first in North America and surpasses that of all the other stakes races, including the Breeders’ Cup.

Because of it’s popularity, the Kentucky Derby draws millions of fans and bettors around the world. I’m going to take a look at the wagering side of it and go through and give my predictions for this year’s race. I provide my Trifecta below, which is picking the 1-2-3 (win, place, show) finishers in the correct order. If you Box these horses together, they can finish 1-2-3 in any order, but it costs more.

**Note – I have picked three of the past six Kentucky Derby Winners with American Pharaoh (5/2) in 2015, Orb (7/2) in 2013, and I’ll Have Another (12/1) in 2012 with my ‘Win’ selections.  Last year, I picked winner Always Dreaming to place (noting I may regret not picking him to win).

2018 Kentucky Derby Betting: Win, Place, Show, Exacta, and Trifecta Picks

Win: No. 11 Bolt d’Oro (8/1)

Price, performance and pedigree lead me to believe that Bolt d’Oro will be your 2018 Kentucky Derby winner.  He has four wins in six starts, including a pair of Grade 1 victories.  He placed a game second to Derby favorite Justify in the Santa Anita Derby.

Bolt d’Oro’s sire, Medaglia d’Oro, delivered seven Grade 1 winners in 2017.  His broodmare sire, A.P. Indy, won the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes in 1992.  He has one of the top Beyer Speed Figures (103) in the field.

Bolt d’Oro finished the final three-eighths of a mile in the Santa Anita Derby in less than 38 seconds, showing that he has plenty left in the tank for the 1 1/4 mile Derby.  If he gets in a duel with Justify again, I like his chances down the stretch.

Place: No. 6 Good Magic (12/1)

Good Magic was a champion 2-year old that has steadily improved with each start.  I expect him to take another step forward in the Derby Saturday.  After a disappointing seasonal debut, he came back with an impressive win in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes.

Good Magic has the perfect running style for the Derby.  He is a stalker that likes to sit just off the pace, and that is the style that usually wins this race.  He’ll be able to follow Justify out of the 7th post and stalk him.

Underrated trainer Chad Brown has been oozing with confidence over this horse.  Brown won the Preakness with Cloud Computing last year, and Practical Joke came in a solid fifth in the Kentucky Derby.  Brown is a Top 5 trainer nationally, has won 10 Breeders’ Cup races, and an Eclipse award as top trainer.

The son of Curlin, Good Magic has a great pedigree.  Curlin finished a disappointing 3rd in the Derby, but went on to win the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup to become one of the all-time greats.  He’s already sired a Belmont and Preakness winner, and Exaggerator was second in the Derby.  Good Magic’s damsire, Hard Spun, finished one spot ahead of Curlin in the Derby and two spots behind him in the Preakness.  The bloodline couldn’t be much better for this horse.

Show:  No. 7 Justify (3/1)

History and inexperience are the only reasons I am not picking Justify to win.  No horse that failed to race as a 2-year old has won the Kentucky Derby since Apollo in 1882.  That’s an 0-for-61 stretch, and something that cannot be overlooked.

But what also can’t be overlooked is how Justify has won all three of his races as a 3-year-old in impressive fashion.  He has won the three by a combined 19 lengths.  He finished strong in the Santa Anita Derby to hold off favorite Bolt d’Oro, which I believe to be the best horse in the field.

Another reason to like Justify’s chances is the post draw.  He drew the No. 7 post, and based on the racing styles of the horses closest to him, he’s going to have an easy path to where he wants to get to.  Justify is a stalker that prefers to be toward the front and then make his move around the final turn.  He’ll be able to move in right behind likely pacesetters Promises Fulfilled and Flameaway, who start from the 3rd and 4th posts, respectively.

Exacta Pick: 6, 7, 11 Exacta Box

Trifecta Pick: 5, 6, 7, 11 Trifecta Box

Note: I’m throwing in No. 5 Audible in my Trifecta Box as I believe he’s the 4th-best horse in the field and the most likely to hit the board if one of my top three picks falter.  Feel free to use these four horses in a Superfecta Box as well.

If you are new to the Kentucky Derby, then you might want to check out my betting guide for beginners.  This year’s complete odds are listed below.

Updated Odds to Win the Kentucky Derby (2018)

Horse Jockey Trainer Career Earnings Odds Change Kentucky Derby
Justify Mike Smith Bob Baffert $666,000 +220 -20 19.96%
Mendelssohn Ryan Moore Aidan O’Brien $1,961,137 +380 145 13.31%
Magnum Moon Luis Saez Todd Pletcher $1,177,800 +430 295 12.05%
Bolt D’oro Victor Espinoza Mick Ruiz $1,016,000 +600 -25 9.12%
Audible Javier Castellano Todd Pletcher $882,920 +650 None 8.52%
Good Magic Jose Ortiz Chad Brown $1,855,000 +800 25 7.10%
Vino Rosso John Velazquez Todd Pletcher $620,500 +1200 -250 4.91%
Hofburg Joze Ortiz Bill Mott $227,950 +1700 1800 3.55%
My Boy Jack Ken Desmormeaux Keith Desormeaux $645,145 +1700 1300 3.55%
Enticed Junior Alvarado Kiaran McLaughlin $595,680 +2800 200 2.20%
Flameaway Jose Lezcano Mark Casse $704,834 +2800 1700 2.20%
Solomini Flavien Prat Bob Baffert $752,000 +3000 None 2.06%
Free Drop Billy Irad Ortiz Dale Romans $625,220 +3500 3000 1.77%
Noble Indy John Velazquez Todd Pletcher $691,600 +4000 -1000 1.56%
Instilled Regard Joel Rosario Jerry Hollendorfer $294,000 +4400 2100 1.42%
Promises Fulfilled Robby Albarado Dale Romans $337,280 +5000 3500 1.25%
Lone Sailor James Graham Tom Amoss $334,237 +5000 1000 1.25%
Combatant Ricardo Santana Steve Asmussen $388,550 +5500 1000 1.14%
Bravazo Gary Stevens D. Wayne Lukas $436,528 +5500 1000 1.14%
Blended Citizen Kyle Frey Doug O’Neill $196,854 +6500 New 0.97%
Firenze Fire Manuel Franco Jason Servis $669,100 +6500 2500 0.97%

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