Well over 100,000 people will gather at Churchill Downs on Saturday to watch The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports. With a 6:46 PM ET post time, 20 Thoroughbreds will storm from the starting gates, with jockeys eager to claim a slice of the $2 million purse. The last five years have seen the morning-line favourite win. Will Justify continue the recent trend, or will this be the year we see an upset? 


Kentucky Derby Betting Favourites

At press time, Justify and Mendelssohn share the top spot on the 2018 Kentucky Derby odds board at 7/2. But in the lead up to the Kentucky Derby, it’s Jusitify who’s spent the majority of the time as the favourite. Despite his limited experience, Justify has proven that he has the speed of a top contender. He has recorded three lightning fast performances this year, beginning on February 18, when he debuted at Santa Anita on a fast track, breaking his maiden by 9 ½ lengths. That performance earned him a Beyer Figure of 104. To prove that it wasn’t a fluke, Justify won an allowance on March 11 by 6 ½ lengths – this time on a muddy track. People were intrigued by Justify early on, but it wasn’t until he competed at the Santa Anita Derby that he carved a place for himself at the Kentucky Derby.

Bolt D’Oro, the early Kentucky Derby favourite, entered the Santa Anita Derby as well. But it was Justify who led the pack right from the start. Bolt d’Oro dueled him in the later stages, but failed to surpass Justify’s incredible speed, which translated into a Beyer Figure of 107. Justify certainly has the speed needed to win the Kentucky Derby, but will he be able to maintain it throughout the 1 ¼ length distance?

Justify’s top competition will come from Mendelssohn. Both horses share a sire in Scat Daddy, but Mendelssohn has the bonus of having Leslie’s Lady as a dam; she is mother to Hall of Fame mare Beholder. Commanding a staggering $3 million as a yearling, Mendelssohn has lived up to expectation after a lacklustre start.

Born in America and trained in Europe, Mendelssohn returned to America to compete in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last November. For the majority of the race, he stalked the frontrunners and then surged ahead in the stretch for a one length victory, beating the morning-line favourite. A turf horse up until then, Mendelssohn made the change to dirt racing in his most recent outing: The Grade 2 UAE Derby, which he dominated, winning by 18 ½ lengths. The Kentucky Derby will be his second dirt race. After experiencing a setback in his trip to Churchill Downs, Mendelssohn finally got to feel the track under his hoofs Thursday morning.


Value Odds to Win the Kentucky Derby

If you look beyond the chalk, there are a lot of great value picks who could easily win the race outright, and one of them is Audible. Entering the Kentucky Derby on four back to back wins, Audible provides great value at 13/2. Justify has only every raced on one track and competed in only one prep race, whereas Audible’s experience comes from three different tracks and two Kentucky Derby prep races: The Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes and the Grade 1 Florida Derby. He has been a consistent winner in all four of his starts since breaking his maiden on second attempt last November. Trainer Todd Pletcher must have been pleased when Audible drew post No. 5, which is the post that has produced the most Kentucky Derby wins at Churchill Downs since 1930.

Fourth on the Kentucky Derby odds board is Magnum Moon, another Todd Pletcher trainee. Undefeated in four starts, Magnum Moon won two very important Kentucky Derby prep races: The Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby. The Arkansas Derby gave Magnum Moon an opportunity to run at a longer distance (1 ⅛ miles) against a higher level of competition. He won the race by four lengths, recording a 98 Beyer Figure in the process.

Chad Brown’s entry, Good Magic, is expected to generate a lot of betting action in the exotics, but if the conditions are right, he could very well win. With four grade 1 and 2 races under his belt already and all his starts coming from different race courses, Good Magic is as battle tested as three-year-olds come. His biggest accomplishment is winning the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by 4 ¼ lengths, beating Bolt D’Oro and Solomini in the process. He’ll be breaking from post No. 6.

There was a lot of hype surrounding Bolt D’Oro in his second year of racing, and many expert handicappers are still including him in their picks. The Mick Ruis-trainee didn’t waste time making his way to the top, competing in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity one month after breaking his maiden. Three weeks later, he won the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes.

Things went a little south for Bolt D’Oro with the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, where he finished third. Then he won the San Felipe Stakes after McKinzie was disqualified for bumping. In his most recent outing, the Santa Anita Derby, he duelled Justify, but couldn’t overcome him. Nonetheless, Bolt D’Oro is an incredibly fast contender who has weathered less than ideal conditions, making him a valuable pick for Saturday.   


Long Shot Odds to Win the Kentucky Derby

Hofburg is a popular long shot pick because of his performance at the Grade 1 Florida Derby. Audible may have won that race, but Hofburg made an impressive run for the lead in the stretch after spending most of the race second-last. His closing style will have a better chance at a longer distance, and if the distance proves too challenging for the frontrunners, Hofburg could strike at the perfect time. With 15/1 odds, he’s worth a shot.

For a full list of 2018 Kentucky Derby betting odds, see the racebook section of Bodog. Early bets can be made in the futures section of the racebook, and pari-mutuel betting will be available on Derby Day. Good luck with your selections and may the best horse win. 

*Odds as of May 4, 2018