Kentucky Derby 2018: Highlighting Early Contenders Ahead of Triple Crown Race

David McCracken@crackemcFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2018

Justify, ridden by Mike Smith, gallops past Bolt d'Oro, left, with jockey Javier Castellano, during the Santa Anita Derby horse race at Santa Anita on Saturday, April 7, 2018, in Arcadia, Calif. Justify won the race, and Bolt d'Oro came in second. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Each year, a new crop of horses come into focus ahead of the Kentucky Derby, and this year is no different.

In 2017, a colt named Always Dreaming stole the show with an impressive performance down the final legs of the race at Churchill Downs to secure the victory.

While Always Dreaming's performance didn't lead to a Triple Crown victory, it was still an impressive showing. And while it's not guaranteed that any horse will go on to clinch the Triple Crown this year, this year's Kentucky Derby field should be regarded as one of the most competitive. 


2018 Kentucky Derby

When: Saturday, May 5

Post time: 6:50 p.m. ET 


Stream: NBC Sports


Kentucky Derby Contenders (odds courtesy of OddsShark

Justify +300

Mendelssohn +400

Audible +650

Magnum Moon +800

Bolt d’Oro +900

Good Magic +1100

Vino Rosso +1600

Hofburg +1800

Noble Indy +2000

Solomini +2200

My Boy Jack +2500

Enticed +2500

Promises Fulfilled +3300

Free Drop Billy +3300

Flameaway +3300

Restoring Hope +4000

Firenze Fire +4000

Lone Sailor +4000

Quip +4000

Combatant +4000

Reride +5000

Snapper Sinclair +5000

Bravazo +5000

Dream Baby Dream +6600



Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

If there's one horse to bet the house on, Justify is the colt you're looking for. However, before placing that bet, it's important to understand the stakes you're up against.

More specifically, it's important to understand what the "Apollo Curse" is.

The Apollo Curse dates back to 1882, when a horse named Apollo, a two-year-old colt, won the Kentucky Derby.

Since then. No horse that young has won the Run of the Roses, but Justify is likely the horse to buck that trend.

With trainer Bob Baffert in his corner—a five-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer including a Triple Crown victory in 2015 with American Pharoah—the sky's the limit for Justify coming into Churchill Downs with the best odds of the 20-horse field. 



Martin Dokoupil/Associated Press

Mendelssohn has won his last three starts, including an impressive victory at the UAE Derby where the three-year-old colt won by an incredible 18 lengths back on March 31st.

Here's a look at Mendelssohn's impressive win:

Owned by Derrick Smith, John Magnier and Michael Tabor, Mendelssohn is coming from a team with experience. Among other successful runners in the Derby, the trio saw Lion Heart claim second place at Churchill Downs in 2004.

Coming in at plus-400 odds, Mendelssohn's odds rank second in the field only behind Justify, and he will look to make the Kentucky Derby his second-biggest win of the young horse racing season. 


Magnum Moon

HOT SPRINGS, AR - APRIL 14: Magnum Moon #6, with jockey Luis Saez, heads to the winner's circle after winning the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park on April 14, 2018 in Hot Springs, Arkansas. (Photo by Justin Manning/Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images)
Eclipse Sportswire/Getty Images

Surprisingly, Magnum Moon has the fourth-best odds to enter the winner's circle come May 5th—a low number for such a talented colt.

The son of Malibu Moon, Magnum Moon is unbeaten in four starts and is coming off a major victory at the Arkansas Derby on April 14 under trainer Todd Pletcher. 

With the exception of Justify's performance during his practice runs at the track at Churchill Downs over the past couple of days, there might not be a horse competing in this year's derby in better form than Magnum Moon.

He just might be worth placing a bet on at plus-800. 


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