The 2018 Kentucky Derby is set to kick off the year's Triple Crown season with 20 horses vying for the roses in an intriguing, unpredictable field.
The best horses in the field have some history to combat. Justify—the favorite—is looking to break "The Curse of Apollo" and become the first horse since 1882 to not race as a two-year-old and win the Derby. His chief rival is Mendelssohn, who is looking to become the first European horse to take home the prize.
Challenging the two favorites will be a field of colts facing longer odds. Here's a look at the post positions and odds from OddsShark, along with the predicted order of finish for the entire field.
1. Firenze Fire 66-1
2. Free Drop Billy 35-1
3. Promises Fulfilled 50-1
4. Flameaway 45-1
5. Audible 13-2
6. Good Magic 8-1
7. Justify 7-2
8. Lone Sailor 50-1
9. Hofburg 15-1
10. My Boy Jack 18-1
11. Bolt d'Oro 17-2
12. Enticed 25-1
13. Bravazo 60-1
14. Mendelssohn 7-2
15. Instilled Regard 60-1
16. Magnum Moon 15-2
17. Solomini 22-1
18. Vino Rosso 12-1
19. Noble Indy 30-1
20. Combatant 66-1
Predicted Order of Finish
- Good Magic
- Bolt d'Oro
- Vino Rosso
- Magnum Moon
- Noble Indy
- My Boy Jack
- Free Drop Billy
- Lone Sailor
- Promises Fulfilled
- Instilled Regard
- Firenze Fire
Simply put, this is a fun field. Justify is as interesting a favorite as there has been in years. The track record is there. He's 3-for-3 this year with impressive wins in Santa Anita, but he hasn't ventured out of California yet.
That's on top of also battling "The Curse of Apollo." His performances in Santa Anita say he can do it, but it's a lot of history and mystery to overcome.
Do race and travel experience carry weight? Justify is about to give us an answer.
Then there's Mendelssohn. The second-favorite horse in the field is equally a mystery. The European colt won the UAE Derby in dominant fashion, but as Chris Fallica of ESPN notes, the competition there wasn't stellar:
When the two favorites have questions surrounding them the way Justify and Mendelssohn do, it opens the door for upsets. Although the last five Derby winners have been the favorite, this could be the year that streak gets broken.
The chasing pack is led by the likes of Audible, Magnum Moon, Good Magic and Bolt d'Oro.
While Magnum Moon will also face the Apollo curse as an unraced two-year-old, the other three are experienced and have each won graded stakes races leading into Saturday's action.
Bolt d'Oro has already proved he can run with Derby favorite Justify. The two competed in the Santa Anita Derby, where Justify edged out the Bob Baffert-trained colt. Bolt d'Oro earned Baffert's respect in the process, though.
"Those two beat the rest of that field by a wide margin, so they're serious horses. You just need racing luck [to win like that]. You've got to have the racing luck." Baffert said, per David Hill of The Ringer. "Justify and Bolt are the two best horses, and you have to give credit to Bolt. He doesn't quit. He's right there every time."
Making this race even more intriguing is the potential for rain to affect track conditions. According to the National Weather Service in Louisville, there is an 80 percent chance for precipitation on Saturday and a 50 percent chance for it coming in the evening.
That bodes well for the unpredictability of the race. According to Neil Greenburg of the Washington Post, Solomini, Instilled Regard, Vino Rosso, Bolt d'Oro and Bravazo have all posted the highest Tomlinson Wet Track Figures, which indicates they could do well on a messy track.
Real Dynasty Picks also highlighted that the pedigree of Good Magic, Solomini and Vino Rosso could mean those horses are too :
It's going to take a special colt to break away from this pack. Regardless of who you're backing, it looks like it's going to come down to the wire.