2018 Kentucky Derby Selections

Having watched every start of every horse in this year’s Kentucky Derby field, you’re still just as likely to come up with the winner as me. Nevertheless, these are my selections:

Bolt d’Oro – Justify – Hofburg – Vino Rosso

Bolt d’Oro appears the most likely to beat the immensely talented Justify, consistently fast  on figures, and poised to peak third off the layoff. He may be Sham but we’re hoping the Derby is the 2nd chapter in a budding rivalry between Bolt d’Oro and the magnificent Justify. Justify’s talent is undeniable and if he is able to score a win in the Derby, the Preakness may be a walkover before a date with destiny at Belmont. Both going in the right direction, Hofburg and Vino Rosso will be coming late and are major contenders if the early pace is a torrid one.

Best of luck.

-Brian

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Mendelssohn’s Kentucky Derby Outlook

Mendelssohn

By Scat Daddy, out of Leslie’s Lady (Tricky Creek).

1st career start: 7/15/17, 7 furlongs on turf, Maiden, Curragh (IRE)

Broke slow, trailed near rear. Struggled, did no running whatsoever.

2nd career start: 8/13/17, 1 mile on turf, Maiden, Curragh (IRE)

Broke fine, easily made the front, rated on lead, shook up some prior to quarter pole, opened up, ridden out, drifting out some in final strides. An easy score, stretching out.

3rd career start: 9/16/17, 7 furlongs on turf, G2 Howcroft Champagne Stakes, Doncaster (GB)

Out fine, just off early leaders, began to fall out of it near the quarter pole, completely done in final furlong. A poor effort stepping up in class.

4th career start: 10/14/17, 7 furlongs on turf, G1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes, Newmarket (GB)

*added blinkers*

Broke fine, held up some early when U S Navy Flag cleared over him on the rail to set the pace, in close quarters in behind, battled to maintain pace at quarter, stayed on to come into a clear 2nd when following U S Navy Flag home in final furlong. At 50:1 Mendelssohn was never going to beat the winner here, but he had a beneficial trip to run 2nd, drafting in behind. He obviously improved very much with the hood.

5th career start: 11/3/17, 1 mile on turf, G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Del Mar

Mendelssohn is #1

Broke nicely, speed from inside post, content to settle in tight pocket, held up there, edged out just a path at the top of the stretch to find room to confront pacesetter, easily by that one, opened up, finished nicely to the wire. Beautifully tactical here, Mendelssohn’s early speed and apt ability led to this one getting an absolute dream trip, ever present for the rider throughout. A peak performance.

6th career start: 3/9/18, 1 mile on polytrack, Patton Stakes, Dundalk (IRE)

Broke sharp from inside post, took back to rate behind loose on the lead pacesetter, in pocket on the turn, came through fantastic opening to cut the corner into the stretch, battled with two outside foes, gradually by late, finished up fine. Lucky to find room coming into the stretch, Mendelssohn was best here, but he was made to work to get past Threeandfourpence in his first start on the poly, off the layoff.

7th career start: 3/31/18, 1 and 3/16 miles, G2 UAE Derby, Meydan (UAE)

Mendelssohn is #4

Broke fine while asked out of the gate, took some doing but eventually took the advantage and cleared over to the inside into 1st turn, pressed mildly on backstretch, began to get away early on far turn without asking, opened up, kept on to wire in smashing style. Getting the best of it up front, one could have confused Mendelssohn with Secretariat in this race, laying the hammer to this overmatch field.

 

With a champion’s pedigree, handled by the world’s greatest connections in Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore, Mendelssohn is the creme de la creme of thoroughbred racing. He is a classy, professional, fluid runner with tactical speed, who may be the most intriguing Kentucky Derby entrant in recent memory.

At second choice, Mendelssohn is a bit of a difficult read. His only dirt race, last out in the UAE Derby, was a well known intense, bias aided score versus a much inferior field compared to what he faces in the KY Derby. Visually impressive as it was, this victory was completely dressed up. In earning a 106 beyer, Mendelssohn’s UAE victory, even with every possible factor going his way, was slower than the 107 Justify garnered in the Santa Anita Derby.

A forward type, Mendelssohn will have a much tougher pace scenario in the KY Derby than he’s ever encountered. He will be put to the test early to obtain early position against much quicker rivals. If he is forced to take dirt, he may be doomed, as Mendelssohn has yet to have this experience.

Facing the prospect of a daunting pace scenario, the opposite of what he received at Meydan, combined with the steep rise in class Mendelssohn will be facing in the Derby, he feels like an awful bet as second choice. Should Mendelssohn handle these tests and throw down with Justify in the stretch under the twinspires, it would result in one of the most entertaining Derbies of all time. However, we just don’t see it, and Mendelssohn will be a hard pass for us on our tickets.

Bolt d’Oro’s Kentucky Derby Outlook

Bolt d’Oro

Trip notes of Bolt d’ora’s first two starts are found in the comments.

3rd career start: 9/30/17, 1 and 1/16 miles, G1 Frontrunner, Santa Anita

Bolt d’Oro is #4

Bobbled some out of the gate, went up to sit off longshot pacesetter, kept that one company on backstretch before going by him easily at the quarter pole, opened up rounding into the stretch, well clear, finished up going away with a big margin. Stretching out to two turns, Bolt d’Oro was sensational here, working himself into a perfect trip.

4th career start: 11/4/17, 1 and 1/16 miles, G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Del Mar

Bolt d’Oro is #11

Broke a bit slow from outside which led to him going 5/6W near the back of the pack on the 1st turn, midpack on backstretch, advanced steadily on far turn, gaining while impossibly wide into the stretch, advancing on Solomini in 2nd in final 16th but unable to catch that one. Breaking a bit dull from the outside doomed Bolt d’Oro here, but he ran much better than his running line suggests, covering 78 more feet than the winner according to Trakus. We were pleased that he continued on to the wire despite being so readily beaten in midstretch.

5th career start: 3/10/18, 1 and 1/16 miles, G2 San Felipe, Santa Anita

Bolt d’Oro is #1

Bobbled a bit out of the gate, settled in pocket on 1st turn, just in behind off trio of leaders on backstretch, angled out 3w to confront leader McKinzie midway on far turn, quickly took narrow margin with a rush, bumped while taking turn into the stretch, lost margin, dueled, looked to have his chance to go by but couldn’t, held off. A strong performance off the layoff in his 3yo debut, Bolt d’Oro may have opened things up just a bit more while moving nicely into the stretch when he got bumped, which led to him getting put up.

6th career start: 4/7/18, 1 and ⅛ miles, G1 Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita

Bolt d’Oro is #3

Broke fine, brushed to no consequence, content to rate off Justify into the 1st turn, lost ground on that one onto backstretch, gained to get within range into the far turn, all out to attempt a bid but held at bay through the turn, cornered tightly with Justify shifting to inside, very mild advance in midstretch before being completely held off in final strides. Unable to get to Justify at every step, Bolt d’Oro was somewhat up against it here. Nobody went with Justify up front, which left him with plenty to contain Bolt d’Oro; all in all, a fine Derby prep.

 

A wonderful colt from his debut on, that has put Mick Ruis on the map after he burst onto the scene with an expensive stable over the past couple of years, Bolt d’Oro is every bit accomplished and talented to be a Kentucky Derby winner. In some editions, Bolt d’Oro would go favored in this event.

Never out of the trifecta in six career starts, five of which were against some of the division’s best in graded stakes, Bolt d’Oro has consistently shown that he is in this group’s upper elechlon. His lone finish out of the exacta in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was still a game effort, despite being somewhat dull and tasked with an impossible trip. Not the greatest from out of the gate, Bolt d’Oro owns good tactical speed that will help him acquire a prime position in the Derby, but he is probably best suited from sitting somewhat off the pace due to his apt finishing ability.

Battle tested with foundation and class, Bolt d’Oro has a much better chance to topple Justify today than he did last out in the Santa Anita Derby, when that rival kept him at a safe distance throughout. Now, Bolt d’Oro may be primed to run back to his win in last year’s Frontrunner, and perhaps improve off that effort, 3rd off the layoff. An expected fast pace also works in Bolt d’Oro’s favor, which should result in Justify having been softened up on the front end, opposed to the Santa Anita Derby where he thrived through a controlled tempo.

Talent often supersedes class and experience on the racetrack, which was certainly the case in the Santa Anita Derby when Justify, in just his third start, off of a paid workout versus nothing, dusted Bolt d’Oro, who was proven over time and was off a tough battle versus McKinzie who presumably would be one of this group’s top contenders had he stayed healthy. The race that often skews this notion and swings the pendulum in favor of the experienced most is the Kentucky Derby. This makes Bolt d’Oro a logical, formidable foil to Justify, looking to turn the upset in what may be a budding rivalry.

With Justify looking like such a standout, towering over this group from a talent perspective, Bolt d’Oro is this group’s best shot at upsetting the unseasoned upstart. At nearly double the odds of Justify, there are too many factors now appearing to go Bolt d’Oro’s way, making him the best overlay in this field, as the 2nd likeliest winner.

Justify’s Kentucky Derby Outlook

Justify

By Scat Daddy, out of Stage Magic (Ghostzapper) who was G3 stakes placed at a mile. Half to The Lieutenant.

1st career start: 2/18/18, 7 furlongs, Maiden Special Weight, Santa Anita Park

Broke just a tad bit slow, easily recovered to race on the lead in between on backstretch, on even terms with inside foe into the turn, took over early on turn, gradually opened up while in hand rounding into the stretch, finished perfectly to the wire. As easy a debut score as one could imagine, when beating just four others.

2nd career start: 3/11, 1 mile, optional claimer 75k/non-winners of one, muddy track, Santa Anita Park

*shed blinkers*

Broke just a tad bit slow from the outside post, settled outside in line of three that was the 2nd tier on 1st turn, moved decisively to inhale the pacesetter early on the far turn, opened up, never out of a gallop in the stretch, finishing up very well once again. Justify made a mockery of this field that featured just four others, three of which are allowance types that run in the 80s on the beyer scale.

3rd: 4/7, 1 and 1/8 miles, G1 Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita Park

Justify is #6

Bobbled slightly out of the gate to no consequence, easily made the early lead, opened up some onto backstretch when used for speed just a bit, yielded some of his advantage to Bolt d’Oro at the half-mile pole, very mildly kept to task around the turn by that one, 4w into the stretch, took some time to change leads while angling in, kept on to wire, finished up nicely. For the first time, Justify was asked for run and appeared a mere mortal. Passing the class test, beating a battled tested Bolt d’Oro, Justify set a very solid tempo while loose on the lead and never even quite allowed Bolt d’Oro into the race at any stage. Justify was able to improve here in part because even though he bobbled, he was forward immediately out of the gate and had no problem taking the early lead.

 

The 3:1 morning line favorite that has ascended the ranks of this division having beaten a total of sixteen rivals in just three starts, two of which were versus vastly inferior competition, Justify is every bit of the superlatives thrown his way this week. The prettiest of movers, who is well bred, fast, with fantastic tactical speed, and immensely talented, (did you get all that?) Justify is a potential superstar. Trained by Bob Baffert, who handled phenoms American Pharoah and Arrogate within the last few years, Justify has the best dirt connections in the game to boot.

The only critique possible on what he’s done on the track thus far is that Justify broke just a tad slow from the gate in both of his first two starts. Justify’s early position may be completely hampered by this habit if it continues in Kentucky.

Despite having the most natural ability in this field, perhaps by a significant margin, Justify does have some concerns to overcome in the KY Derby. Lightly raced with just three starts that have come in the span of the last 76 days, Justify’s ascent has been one of a Boeing lifting off at a 90-degree angle. How long can he quickly keep climbing the class ranks so drastically?

Although an impeccably bred sort that looks like he should handle this distance with no issue, Justify will once again be stretching out another furlong, for the fourth time in as many starts. Such circumstances do not usually result in peak performances. Shipping out of California for the first time, facing more horses than he has encountered in his entire career combined, Justify will also be subjected to a tougher pace situation than his win in the Santa Anita Derby, while stepping up in class.

When assessing Justify’s Derby chances, one must acknowledge the level of ease that Justify won his first two starts, but ultimately throw those wins out. Justify’s ability, next to inferior foes, makes him look like the greatest horse of all time. In those races, Justify was a Rembrandt next to a bunch of graffiti scribble, but in the Derby, Justify may be hanging in an appropriate museum, next to other accomplished works, thus blending in much less noticeably.

In the Santa Anita Derby, when dictating a controlled tempo while loose on the lead, Justify was able to keep his main rival Bolt d’Oro at bay throughout. In the Derby, he will likely sit off the speedy Promises Fulfilled. With the huge field size and target on his back, Justify may likely find this scenario much more stressful. If the pace is quick as we expect, stretching out to a mile and a quarter, there is also the added possibility that Justify will have to hold off some accomplished closers in the stretch, who will have sat beneficial trips. Without having truly been battle-tested yet, Justify would have every right to wilt at this juncture.

Racing is best when the game produces standouts. In turn, we will be glad to see Justify run a Big Brown-esque Derby and crush the field. We have far too many reservations to want to take a short price on him though in a Kentucky Derby that is going to bring Justify to the precipice. By far the horse to beat, Justify is the reason to watch the Derby, but we will be attempting to beat him in the top spot on our tickets.

Audible’s Kentucky Derby Outlook

Audible

By Into Mischief, out of Blue Devil Bel (Gilded Time)

Trip notes of Audible’s 2yo races are found in the comments.

4th career start: 2/3/18, 1 and 1/16 miles, G2 Holy Bull, Gulfstream

Audible is #4

Broke well, just off pacesetter on 1st turn, eased back just a bit to race off early 1-2 runners, shown the whip early on backstretch run, moved effortlessly up to leaders prior to turn, went by pacesetter early on turn when taken on by Free Drop Billy to the immediate outside, dueled, on even terms rounding into the stretch before substantially disposing him, opened up, ridden out. A huge improvement from his New York form, stepping up in class in what was a much the best effort, making the first move and still dusting Free Drop Billy off into the stretch.

5th career start: 3/31, 1 and ⅛ miles, G1 Florida Derby, Gulfstream

Audible is #8

Out well, bit of early speed behind vicious pace duel up front, smartly took back around 1st turn and first half of backstretch run, paired with Hofburg in the rear of the field before beginning ascent into the far turn, maintained in 2nd tier 3w before moving up to the lead with momentum into the stretch, opened up, ridden out. Running back to his score last out in the Holy Bull, Audible’s versatility was on display here, coming from off the pace, securing a very solid trip off of the lead that cooked everybody involved with it. Audible had things his own way here, due to himself.

 

Despite being a NY-bred with one of the more modest pedigrees you’ll find in a race like this, Audible commanded $500k last March after an impressive run in a 2yo in training sale. Audible has proven a wise investment, already shown a positive return, coming into this KY Derby a perfect 2 for 2 as a 3yo with wins in the Holy Bull and Florida Derby. In each of those scores, Audible was a much the best, going-away winner.  

As a 2yo in New York, Audible was a fine prospect, one that had us thinking about his chances in this year’s Albany Stakes at Saratoga, restricted to NY-bred 3yos. At Gulfstream, where trainer Todd Pletcher does his best work, Audible has transformed into a formidable Derby contender. He has buried his competition, although the toughest rivals he’s faced in South Florida have been Free Drop Billy and Hofburg — who was making his third lifetime start. Both are longshots in the Derby field. Additionally, although well-deserved due to his versatility, Audible got a fantastic setup last out in the Florida Derby when racing in the back of the pack, closing into a wicked pace that was totally unsustainable. Considering he got such ideal conditions in the Florida Derby, the speed figures he produced in that win are a bit disappointing, especially the 99 beyer, considering how much a fast pace can boost a final-time fig.

Tactical, but still a versatile runner who has a closer’s turn of foot, Audible is another KY Derby starter that stands to sit in a very favorable spot off of whatever kind of pace. The class test he will get in the Derby concerns us, as it seems very likely that he is a slight cut below this group’s best.

Appearing poised to relish the mile and a quarter, Audible will run to his top ability on Saturday. Like Magnum Moon, another one of Pletcher’s Derby contenders, Audible has done nothing wrong as a 3yo. Not having improved from his Holy Bull effort to the Florida Derby, separated by nearly two months, bullies our belief that he may not quite be in the same tier as some of the other favorites. Both of his wins are very likely a tad bit too slow to win this year’s run for the roses, and without foreseeing improvement, Audible is one we like to hit the board, but not the most likely winner and a bit of an underlay at 8:1

Good Magic’s Kentucky Derby Outlook

Good Magic

By Curlin, out of Glinda the Good (Hard Spun)

Trip notes for Good Magic’s first career start in comments. 

2nd career start: 10/7/17, 1 mile, G1 Champagne, Belmont

Good Magic is #6

Broke fine, in behind just off large group battling for the lead on backstretch, 2w on the turn behind leading trio, angled out rounding into the stretch, forged to the lead past the 3/16ths pole, immediately taken on by Firenze Fire to the outside, couldn’t go with that one but battled on, kept close quarters to the wire. A strong effort from Good Magic, stretching out, likely best as he raced close to the wicked early pace that ultimately collapsed, whereas the winner came from well off of it.

3rd career start: 11/4/17, 1 and 1/16 miles, G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Del Mar

Good Magic is #6

Forward out of the gate, settled inside off the rail in 2nd tier, paired with The Tabulator on the backstretch, very briefly waited in behind on the far turn before quickly coming through to confront leader Solomini into the stretch, easily past that one, opened up, finished strong. A very impressive, much the best score from Good Magic who appeared to have the potential of a superstar at this juncture.

4th career start: 3/3/18, 1 and 1/16 miles, G2 Fountain of Youth, Gulfstream

Good Magic is #6

Broke sharp, rated out 3w, in solid position when advancing mildly into the far turn, couldn’t get within a half length of Strike Power in 2nd before losing ground into the stretch, in trouble, kept on evenly to the wire. A flat performance for the 2yo champ off the layoff, unable to mount any meaningful rally.

5th career start: 4/7/18, 1 and ⅛ miles, G2 Blue Grass, Keeneland

Good Magic is #11

3/4W on 1st turn after breaking fine, outside somewhat midpack on backstretch, advanced into 2nd tier into the far turn, crept up to leader Flameaway midturn, gradually by that one from there into the stretch, made the lead and slogged along while maintaining safe margin, flipped back to left lead at 16th pole, clear. An easy, much the best win for Good Magic 2nd time off the layoff, but his finish in the stretch left a lot to be desired. An ordinary score.

 

In his first ten years as a listed trainer, no other handler has ascended the ranks in recent memory quicker and in more star-studded fashion than Chad Brown. The reigning two-time Eclipse award winner has a myriad of stakes victories on his resume, and last year, Chad added his first triple crown race with Cloud Computing in the Preakness. It’s only a matter of time before he prevails a Kentucky Derby champion, but he hasn’t had a great prospect since 2013 with Normandy Invasion. Good Magic has been Brown’s Derby horse since last summer when he was much regarded, which led to starts in the Champagne and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile while still a maiden. Good Magic appeared to prove Brown correct when he whistled in the Breeders’ Cup, in a much the best, visually impressive effort.

In his two starts at 3, Good Magic has yet to run back to his Breeders’ Cup score and does not resemble the brilliant, potential superstar that his victory hinted towards. Good Magic is an agile, tactical, extremely well bred colt, who is versatile and can succeed from just about any kind of early position. One cannot overstate the ability to trip out in the KY Derby, and Good Magic seemed perfectly poised to do just that.

It’s readily apparent that Good Magic will have to produce a career best effort to win on Saturday, even faster than his Breeders’ Cup win (which featured horses that either didn’t pan out or horses that did not run their best race), but as the starts add up, that victory appears more and more like an outlier. Good Magic is clearly talented, having run a likely best effort in last year’s Champagne and scoring an easy win last out in the Blue Grass. However, if you classify his Breeders’ Cup win as an outlier, and take it out of the equation, his past performances read much differently.

In our opinion, Good Magic is good enough to put everything together for a day and run a race of the stature of his Breeders’ Cup effort, but he’s clearly not consistent enough to be expected to produce such a creation on any given day. Third off the layoff, Good Magic may be likely to run a career best effort. He is also quite likely to turn out as this group’s most accomplished winner when their careers are said and done, but he’s quite difficult to trust on Saturday off of that Blue Grass win where he beat little and finished monotonously through the stretch. At 12:1, we suppose Good Magic is a good price in this edition of the KY Derby, but in our estimation, he is just a slight cut below the best this group has to offer, both in terms of class and figs. He may not want to be a horse that knocks you out of inter-race bets, but we’re inclined to pass on Good Magic for the top spot.

Vino Rosso’s Kentucky Derby Outlook

Vino Rosso

By Curlin, out of Mythical Bride (Street Cry)

Trip notes of Vino Rosso’s first two starts are found in the comments.

3rd career start: 02/10/18, 1 and 1/16th miles, G3 Sam F. Davis, Tampa Bay Downs

Brushed inside foe out of the gate, in between in 2nd tier off pacesetter Flameaway, ridden to maintain on backstretch, lost ground while all-out midway on far turn, angled out into the stretch, kept on, languishing some in midstretch, got on track late cutting into the 1-2 finisher’s margin at wire. We were pleased that Vino Rosso ran within a couple lengths of the leaders at the wire, and finished up nicely in the final strides after running uninterested for about 95% of this journey when stepping up in class.

4th career start: 03/10/18, 1 and 1/16th miles, G2 Tampa Bay Derby, Tampa Bay Downs

Out fine, in pocket behind leaders on 1st turn, maintained position until asked to keep pace early on far turn, evaporated, ugly stride turning into the stretch well beaten, evenly to the wire. Not sure what it is about that far turn at Tampa, but this marked the second time in a row that Vino Rosso was unable to handle it, this time turning in a very poor performance.

5th career start: 04/07/18, 1 and 1/8th miles, G2 Wood Memorial, Aqueduct

Vino Rosso is #9

Broke tad slow from outside post, 3w 1st turn somewhat near rear, advanced a bit onto backstretch, continued gradual gain into the far turn, outside up into Enticed/Restoring group at the 3/8s pole who were essentially on the lead, making big gains on the runaway pacesetter, quick move to take a narrow advantage prior to the quarter pole, commenced in duel with Enticed to his inside rounding into the stretch, herded that one over, bumped slightly prior to the 8th pole, by at the 16th pole, finished up. Vino Rosso benefitted from coming off the pace here while Enticed was closer to those vicious fractions early, but this was still an impressive score putting in a sustained run throughout the turn and stretch to pull away nicely late.

 

Todd Pletcher’s brillant ability to craft young talent into Kentucky Derby starters has been astonishing for many years and was once again on display when getting Vino Rosso into this year’s field while seemingly peaking at prime time. A long-legged, talented son of Curlin by Mythical Bridge (who is a half to Commissioner who just missed in the mile and a half Belmont Stakes) Vino Rosso’s pedigree and body scream ‘classic distance’.

Vino Rosso was able to mature in two painless starts as a 2yo before testing graded stakes company in a couple starts at Tampa. Over a tricky surface that he may have not cared for, Vino Rosso was able to work out some kinks, while showing some brief promise in those stakes before shipping north back to Aqueduct in the Wood Memorial. There, he improved immensely, outdueling the local favorite Enticed who was coming off an easy win in the Gotham.

In the Wood, Vino Rosso finally focused throughout, unlike his prior two starts where he faded badly on the far turn, only running in spots. Somewhat tactical, but trending in the direction as one to come from midpack, Vino Rosso is noticeably coming into his own, beginning to fulfill the promise he showed in both his maiden victory and 3rd place finish in the Sam F. Davis, where he finished gamely after taking a nap mid-race. If his on-track performance isn’t enough to rely on, Vino Rosso is sent out by top connections who are looking to become back-to-back winners of the Derby on the heels of Always Dreaming’s decisive win last year.

In the Derby, Vino Rosso’s concerns are clear. He will be stepping up in class versus the division’s best and will have to improve. The finest horse Vino Rosso has beaten in stakes company yet is Enticed, who is an outsider in this group. Stretching out to the mile and a quarter won’t be an issue, but Vino Rosso drew a poor outside post of 18. Not the quickest out of the gate, this post will likely dictate that Vino Rosso will be hard sent early and sit very wide throughout, or take back towards the rear of the field, a position that’s too far from the early pace for him to be at his best. The latter is more likely which may present a tough task.

Reminding us some of last year’s Belmont Stakes winner, Tapwrit, who also finished nicely in the final strides of the Sam F. Davis and wanted to run all day, Vino Rosso may be primed to run a similar 6th place Derby finish than that one did last year. Vino Rosso is likely more talented than Tapwrit though, which makes him a big player on Saturday. At 12:1 he is a square price, making him a must use on our tickets.

Enticed’s Kentucky Derby Outlook

Enticed

By Medaglia d’Oro, out of It’s Tricky (Mineshaft)

Trip notes for Enticed’s first race can be found in the comments. 

2nd career start: 10/07/17, 1 mile, G1 Champagne, Belmont Park

Enticed is #4

Advanced into scrum for lead early, just off Aveenu Malcainu setting the pace to his immediate outside, took back into pocket down the backstretch, lost a bit of ground into the turn, mild advance in among horses near the top of the stretch, took on by Kowboy Karma to his immediate outside, dueled for 3rd, held that one off at wire. Stretching out to the mile, this was a positive performance by Enticed who didn’t get the best trip; too close to a fast pace that ultimately collapsed late.

3rd career start: 11/25/17, 1 and 1/16th miles, G2 Kentucky Jockey Club,  Churchill Downs

Enticed is #6

Bumped going into the 1st turn to no consequence, rushed up a bit into a close 3rd in between horses in 2nd tier, waited off dueling group on the lead midway on the far turn, swung to the outside 4w into the stretch, gradually up to take narrow advantage in midstretch, dueled with the oncoming Tiz Mischief to his inside late, held him off. First time around two turns, Enticed was workmanlike in victory here, enjoying a very nice trip with the pacesetter failing to the handle the turns and being softened up some before Enticed made his outside move in the stretch. Enticed had an opportunity to win for fun here, but instead, he just stayed on in the stretch without any particular burst.

4th career start: 02/03/18, 1 and 1/16th miles, G2 Holy Bull, Gulfstream Park

Enticed is #1

Ridden from out of the inside post, near pocket on 1st turn, gradually shuffled back just a bit on first half of backstretch run, crept up into the pocket while in tight into the far turn, angled out in between horses rounding into the stretch while losing lots of ground quickly, evenly. A poor 3yo return for Enticed in what was a tentative effort throughout, where he did very little running.

5th career start: 3/10/18, 1 mile, G3 Gotham, Aqueduct

Enticed is #9

Outside in midpack from far outside post, gradual advance around the turn 4w, into 2nd rounding into the stretch significantly behind the longshot leader Old Time Revival, wore that one down to easily go by him at the 16th pole, wrapped up in final strides. This was a dream trip for Enticed who got a fast pace in front of him set by a bunch of inferior foes up top. Enticed may have looked visually impressive in running down Old Time Revival in the stretch, but that 35:1 longshot was cooked from contributing so much to the fast early pace, and tired notably late. Enticed was served this race on a platter.

6th career start: 4/7/18, 1 and ⅛ miles, G2 Wood Memorial, Aqueduct

Enticed is #5

Sharp out of the gate, just off Old Time Revival early before allowing that one to go on with it who then opened up a wide margin on the backstretch, pressed by Restoring Hope on the outside while they cut into the leader’s advantage on the far turn, lost narrow advantage to Vino Rosso on the outside midturn, commenced duel at the quarter pole rounding into the stretch, herded in by Vino Rosso, bumped slightly a couple times prior to the 8th pole, dropped out just prior to 16th pole, 2nd. An improved effort from his Gotham win when much more tactical here, which ended up hurting his chances with the early pace being so wicked. Enticed is not a horse that wants to sit and pounce, and was taken out of his element when asked to make the first move on the far turn. However, Enticed had his chance here and was beaten soundly at the wire.

An impeccably bred Medaglia d’Oro colt, out of a multiple G1 winning filly in It’s Tricky, Enticed is living up to his lofty expectations, already a two-time graded stakes winner, displaying talent and class from day one. With top connections, including trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, Enticed certainly has the feel of a Kentucky Derby winner. Enticed is a professional stayer with some tactical speed, although likely best from midpack; one that seems headed in the right direction.

For a 30:1 longshot on the morning line, Enticed has acquainted himself better then one would think with some of this field’s biggest names, having dueled with Vino Rosso last out in the Wood, running a similar race to that of Good Magic in last year’s Champagne, and giving Free Drop Billy a beating in the Gotham. In the Holy Bull, where Enticed did not run his race, he was 9:5 to beat Audible. His most eye-catching result in his past performances is another story.

Enticed’s fastest race on the beyer scale is his victory in the Gotham, which outlined in our trip notes, was absolutely served up to him on a platter versus vastly inferior foes, and an off-form Free Drop Billy. A repeat of that effort in the KY Derby will leave Enticed trounced. Improved last out in the Wood, Enticed was as sharp as he’s ever demonstrated, but was still no match for Vino Rosso late in the stretch, who he will meet again on Saturday. He is too slow on paper and although bred for the distance, Enticed’s efforts in the Gotham and Wood Memorial may suggest that he is best at a mile or 8.5 furlongs.

There are plenty of reasons to believe that Enticed is headed in the right direction. The pedigree. The top class connections. His impressive 2yo form. All of which, combined with his improvement last out in the Wood, leads us to believe that Enticed may end up as one of the Travers favorites a bit down the line. As for the KY Derby, Enticed will likely sit a beneficial trip from a pace perspective, and be finishing some to the wire. He may be too slow at this stage to be a win candidate, but don’t let us talk you off of him. Enticed is the most intriguing longshot of this grouping in our opinion. With a win under his belt already at Churchill in last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club, Enticed is again a must-use for us under the twinspires, especially on the bottom of exotics.

Bravazo’s Kentucky Derby Outlook

Bravazo

By Awesome Again, out of Tiz o’ Gold (Cee’s Tizzy).

Trip notes of Bravazo’s first five races can be found in the comments.

 

6th career start: 1/13/18, 1 mile, Optional Claimer/non-winners of one, Oaklawn

Brushed in between coming out of the gate and forced to take back, midpack, outside into far turn where he began his ascent into 2nd behind a fast pace set by Ezmosh alone up front, to that one with all the momentum coming into the stretch, initially held off, kept on in duel, just up at wire. Although this race came back fast according to the speed figures, Bravazo had things his own way here and looked like he’d go on to win by a few rounding into the stretch, making this narrow margin of victory somewhat disappointing.

7th career start: 2/17/18, 1 and 1/16 miles, G2 Risen Star, Fair Grounds

Forward from out of the gate, moved up to flank inside pacesetter Snapper Sinclair on the 1st turn, pressed that one intently, on even terms early on the far turn, lost a bit of ground rounding into the stretch on left lead in duel, switched leads midstretch, just up in final strides. Nearly a repeat of his stretch duel with Ezmosh last out where Bravazo looked like he’d be held off despite having the outside advantage, but he was able to once again outstay his competition who was a 41:1 longshot. Somehow, with this race being a match race up front, Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair had things their way but still did not run a fast speed figure.

8th career start: 3/24/18, 1 and ⅛ miles, G2 Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds

Ridden out of the gate from the inside post, outrun by Noble Indy to his outside, shifted out 3w into the 1st turn somewhat erratically, settled just off leaders on backstretch, struggled to get going early on the far turn before seemingly taking a bad step, briefly held up by his rider before stopping and getting out rounding into the stretch, drifted in while completely empty in the stretch, nothing left. An obviously poor, over the top effort from Bravazo when clearly in poor form.

 

One of five horses listed with 50:1 morning line odds in this edition of the Kentucky Derby, Bravazo is the lone member of that group to win a major Derby prep, which came in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February. In what was a weak field, at 41:1 and 21:1, Snapper Sinclair and Bravazo, respectively, hooked up on the front end of that affair and never looked back in what was a match race from the first turn to the wire. This result was an obvious fluke — Snapper Sinclair was a well beaten 5th next out in the Louisiana Derby — due to a confluence of many unknown factors that worked against the horses attempting to come from behind, and benefited the two dueling longshots. In any event, with whatever advantages bestowed upon him, Bravazo was still only able to produce a 93 beyer speed figure in victory, a peak that is far too slow for him to draw any consideration in this Derby field.

If the knocks on his Risen Star aren’t apparent enough, Bravazo wasn’t able to duplicate that form last out when he was awful, off form, 8th in the Louisiana Derby six weeks ago. If Bravazo was trained by any other major trainer in the country other than D. Wayne Lukas, he would currently be turned out on a farm getting a break.  

Bravazo is a decent horse, an allowance to grade three type, who did some nice things as a 2yo and got faster at 3. Unfortunately, in his current form, Bravazo does not belong in this KY Derby field. We hope that he is not ruined by this journey.

Magnum Moon’s Kentucky Derby Outlook

Magnum Moon

By Malibu Moon, out of Dazzling Song (Unbridled’s Song)

1st career start: 01/13/18, 6 furlongs, Maiden Special Weight, Gulfstream Park

Magnum Moon is #8

Away well, kept inside pacesetter to task, blew by that one midway on the turn, briefly kept to task by outside foe rounding into the stretch, disposed of him at the top of the stretch, opened up, finished up well. A very professional, much the best victory.

2nd career start: 02/15/18, 1 mile and 40 yds, Optional Claimer, Tampa Bay Downs

Wide into 1st turn, dropped back in behind leaders early on turn, just off in behind top trio on backstretch, in hand on far turn before angling outside into the stretch, easily by in midstretch under hand ride, ridden out. Stretching out to two turns, this was nothing more than a learning experience for Magnum Moon, who took dirt and won extremely easily versus inferior foes.

3rd career start: 03/17/18, 1 and 1/16th miles, G2 Rebel, Oaklawn Park

Magnum Moon is #4

Brushed a couple strides out of the gate to no consequence, a close 3rd while 3 deep on 1st turn, just off inside 1-2 runners on backstretch, confronted pacesetter Title Ready midturn, took advantage rounding into the stretch at the 1/4 pole, opened up, drifted out late, ridden out. Stepping up in class, Magnum Moon was sharp in victory here, but had things his way when his main rival Solomini showed up with a dull effort. Magnum Moon was also able to stalk a very suitable pace up front against lesser competition.

4th career start: 04/14/18, 1 and ⅛ miles, G1 Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park

Magnum Moon is #6

Was a neck behind Quip to that one’s inside out of the gate, went up to take narrow advantage while clearing over to the rail into the 1st turn, pressed by that one with both runners under a hold through average fractions, pressed intently into the far turn, on near even terms through the turn before rightly disposing him into the stretch, quickly drifted out while opening up, ridden out, ran through the wire. Due to the favorable pace scenario, this was essentially a match race between Magnum Moon and Quip up front with Magnum Moon crushing him. He had things in his favor but Magnum Moon did what was asked of him, making it hard to knock this effort.

 

Reportedly high on Magnum Moon from the onset, but not wanting to press on with the Malibu Moon colt after sending him to a few workouts at Saratoga in June of last year, Todd Pletcher was up against the 8-ball in getting Magnum Moon to the KY Derby, debuting him in mid-January. From there on, Magnum Moon has proven Pletcher correct, and has completed every task with flying colors, standing undefeated in four starts.

Magnum Moon, like just about every other Todd Pletcher beginner, is a tactical, professional actor. Despite a lumbering stride, Magnum Moon possesses satisfactory gate speed, making him a dangerous colt when stalking the pace, which is his preferred trip. Magnum Moon boasts a strong, classic, pedigree that will not be a deterrent at classic distances. He indisputably still has plenty of potential.

Both of Magnum Moon’s sizable victories in the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby can be described as workmanlike. Criticising much-the-best wins coming in graded stakes company in one’s third and fourth start is difficult, but Magnum Moon did have things his own way in each of these races due to beneficial pace scenarios. Furthermore, Magnum Moon did not beat a single major KY Derby contender in either of his Oaklawn wins. Simply put, he was solid, not spectacular.

If duplicated on Saturday, both of his efforts in the Rebel and the Arkansas Derby will get Magnum Moon beat. He will have to improve some; a bit of a concern since Magnum Moon has been fast from his debut and hasn’t raised his speed figures much, if at all, since his first start. What’s more, Magnum Moon is going to face a much more daunting early pace situation than he’s been accustomed to while stretching out another furlong. This in his fifth career start in five months.

Magnum Moon has demonstrated immaturity, drifting out at Oaklawn in both of his last two starts, which may indicate that he has plenty of improving to do. This is probably so. It wouldn’t surprise us in the least if Magnum Moon were crowned KY Derby champion due to his proficient ability and hidden promise. At 6:1 on the morning line, we find too many holes in this notion to back him at the windows, but there is a strong possibility that the curse of Apollo is broken this year, not with the favorite Justify, but with the plunky Pletcher, Magnum Moon.